Business leaders are conditioned, either by nature or by culture, to major on productivity. There is relentless pressure to always be striving for greater results, higher income, better profit margin, and higher levels of achievement. Competition can be fierce in today’s business world; and if you are not moving ahead aggressively, you are falling behind spectacularly.
But there is also a movement surfacing that bucks the trend of the “hustle culture” that has become the norm across the last few decades. Having seen or experienced the effects of the hustle culture, thousands are voicing a collective “No!” to the idea of sacrificing their lives on the altar of work.
Who is right?
Turns out, it could be both.
When you are productive, it is normally because you are using your strengths, skills, and experience to create results that serve needs. This is rewarding in many ways and provides a sense of great satisfaction. To remove productivity from the equation would also remove its rewards.
But there is also merit to the argument that you can focus so much on productivity that you begin to disconnect from the other parts of life – your health and relationships, for example. And, so, we see articles where people are choosing not to work at all or to sleep an inordinate amount of time.
Either approach, taken to an extreme, is unhealthy in every area of life and business.
How can you create a better balance?
Today’s leaders are faced with diverse responsibilities. Throw in technology, and we have created an “always on” society, where no matter how much you accomplish, it is never enough. Answer a midnight email just to get it off your plate, and it fires off a conversation across several emails as the addressee responds to you because they are working, too.
Check your daily sales report before going to bed, and it robs you of a good night’s sleep.
And the ideas! They are endless. Your mind never rests because of all the possibilities.
This is all in addition to your actual responsibilities, which include not only your work, but family and social obligations. The expectations can be overwhelming. These days, just about everyone is sensing the overwhelm, and serious burnout is a real factor for many.
This is why it is important for you as the leader to set the example of balance, and to encourage it for your team as well. Yes, there will be times when the team pushes hard toward a goal; but there must also be recovery.
When will you be available for business calls and emails? When will you not be available?
What expectations do you have of your team? When are they expected to be available? What are their boundaries?
What do you consider an emergency, and what should wait until business hours?
These are boundaries you need to set personally and with your team. Respect their time and help them know how they can respect yours.
This is a major issue for business leaders, especially those who are entrepreneurs. You are where you are because you have great ideas. But the downside is, you can’t turn them off!
Making a habit to capture ideas as you think of them helps free up your executive function for higher focus. Having a time in the evening to write down all your ideas helps you to clear your mind and relax. Write them down and store them in one place. Each week, visit your idea deck to determine if you want to take action on an idea, save it for later, or discard it.
In a world where decision fatigue is a major factor, this lessens it considerably.
It has long been noted that having healthy relationships affects your physical health and longevity. They also affect every other area of your life, as they are connected. Having good relationships with family, friends, community, and business partners, peers, and teams enriches your life in many ways. Productivity is important; but guard against taking it to a level that is detrimental to relationships.
Craft a Plan
Planning is a major factor in creating more of a work-life balance, especially if you plan with your 3-5 key roles in mind. Create a plan and then review it. Is it feasible? Is it broad enough to be interesting, but tight enough to be effective? Have you addressed each role to the degree possible for the timeframe you are planning, or do you realize you have planned a full month, and your family is nowhere on the calendar?
Having a plan helps you define results and boundaries. It helps you to create a well-rounded life. And it helps you know when to shift focus.
Carve Out Focus
In a distracted world, it is more important than ever to carve out time for deep focused work. This would be a time for deep thinking, solving issues, generating ideas, completing a project, or creating a new product, program, or service. Know your best times of day for this type of work, and reserve it. Know your best environment for deep work. For some, it is a quiet office; for others, it may mean going for a long drive or a run in the park. For yet others, it may be getting together with a group of people to brainstorm ideas or talk through an idea.
Check Your Balance
Where are you currently most focused? Are you tightly focused on productivity to the exclusion of other important things and people in life; or do you find yourself idling away time a little too much? Take some time to bring the extreme back to center. Be productive AND rest. Drive toward results AND spend some time with family. Balance is not so much about equal time for each area of life; it is more about centering your life in such a way that you experience life in all its facets.
- Review your boundaries and discuss boundaries with your team.
- Designate a place to hold your ideas until it is time to review them. Practice writing them down.
- Think about your relationships. Which one needs some added attention this week?
- Create your plan for the week. Review it based on the criteria noted above.
- Determine your best focus times and methods.
- Assess your balance.
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Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after executive coach, mentor, consultant, and speaker worldwide. Deb is well versed in business operations and in the importance of asking key questions most business leaders won’t ask themselves. She brings deep experience in leadership development, strategy, high performance team building and effective communication. She has a passion for leading people to discover and maximize their strengths as well as those of fellow team members, while offering advanced strategies to achieve high performance. Deb is the perfect fit if you’re ready to take your leadership and impact to the next level!