Leaders: Balance Your Work and Personal Life

By Jeff Wolf

Time to Read: 2 minutes

A proper work and personal life balance continues to be a key issue for most leaders today. With the pressure placed on leaders to execute and perform, what steps can they take to extract the most joy from their work?

Leaders are working longer hours, making work-life balance a critical issue that won’t go away soon. Certainly, technology has a huge impact on our lives. Immediate access and availability through smartphones, instant messaging, and email, put great pressure on leaders to respond quickly to both large and inconsequential problems.

When I coach executives, I find that many are tethered to their devices. As a result, they often tend to experience a loss of focus, lack of energy, and decline in decision-making ability, leading to job burnout, high stress, divorce, and even alcohol or drug dependency.

One effective way to combat work-life balance issues is through time management. When you efficiently manage your time, you have a more balanced life, higher productivity, less stress, and greater job satisfaction. I usually recommend several key steps:

  • Learn to say no. As leaders, we are always asked to take on more responsibilities, deadlines, and commitments. It’s human nature to try to please everyone and expect more from ourselves, but we can easily accept more work than we’re realistically capable of completing. Saying no in a professional way prevents you from overloading your schedule and accepting more than you can handle.
  • Determine when you’re at the peak of your day. People have peak and low periods during a workday. Find your peak, and tackle the most important issues during that time.
  • Create a not-to-do list composed of activities that need to be completed, but needn’t be personally handled by you. Decide who you can empower to complete these tasks and delegate.
  • Empower others. Surround yourself with great people and empower them with decision-making responsibilities.
  • Establish a no-contact time. Close your office door for 15 to 30 minutes each day. Let everyone know that you’re not to be disturbed. Don’t answer the phone or emails or reply to messages; instead, choose to work on issues that require your most immediate attention.
  • Maintain your energy and exercise regularly. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and eat balanced meals. Go for five-minute walks two to three times a day.
  • Implement periodic stand-up meetings. Much of what’s achieved in a one-hour meeting can be handled in 15-to-30 minute gatherings where everyone stands. This keeps people on track and focused on resolving key issues quickly.

Work-life balance involves more than time management. Leaders must recognize the need to slow down, enjoy life, and replenish their energy supply daily. Having a balanced life takes into account all your needs, including family, friends, work, play, private time, exercise, and spiritual time. It’s a matter of getting your priorities straight.

We often say we’re working long hours for our families, but if we ask our families they’ll say they would like to have us around more. Think about the impact you have on your family by working long hours. Then take a few minutes out of your busy day and try to figure out how to cut back and rearrange your priorities.

The key to achieving a balanced life is building it into your schedule like anything else and then making it a habit. Start by making an action plan: Look at your schedule two to three weeks in advance and block out time for things you enjoy doing and people you enjoy being with. It takes discipline to do this, and discipline is what leaders have.

Making a commitment to work-life balance makes leaders more productive and better prepared to handle the daily tasks, while providing the time to enjoy life.

Jeff Wolf is the author of the international best-seller Seven Disciplines of a Leader. 

A dynamic speaker and highly requested executive coach he was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness. 

 He may be reached at 858-638-8260 or jeff@wolfmotivation.com 

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