We push ourselves to the far edges of what we can handle. Why? Is it part of our DNA? Or is it a foundational psychological flaw that rationalizes our desire to pack as much as we can into every day with the thinking that each extra minute will get us closer to that elusive magical state?
Ever hear the story about Einstein and Salvador Dali and their mid-day naps? Both believed that a well-timed nap cleansed the mind and opened themselves up to new ideas and creativity. I think of it as a palate cleanser.
I don't care how you do it but I want you to find a tool to use daily that gives you time to NOT think about the business. Think of this as a mental nap.
Here are 11 simple and obvious signs that you need to find that tool:
Miss an important meeting. I forgot to show up for a relatively important meeting today. Sure we have all done it. I am sure that Dina and the startup founders in Chapel Hill will forgive me. It's why I have a strong opinion about the role of the meeting organizer. But having important meetings front of mind is critical and too many mental distractions push this to the back of my brain.
Can't remember key metrics. I have written on many occasions the need to make data-driven decisions. The cousin of this idea is that there no more then 3 key metrics that you and your team operate by every day. Knowing these metrics would be key. Not knowing them is bad.
Make rash decisions. Oh the heck with it you say. Let's hire that guy we met at that conference last week as the new CFO.
Flip flop on small decisions. We all occasionally change our minds on key decisions. That is to be expected. But to flip flop on the style of office chair or the format of the office party are bad signs.
Text messages at 2AM to team members. Nobody should be working at 2AM on any consistent basis. It's just not healthy. And your team health will suffer as you signal to the staff an expectation that they should be on 24Ã--7. They need mental naps as well.
Can't sleep. My favorite is when you wake up in the middle of the night with your mind racing. Could be after 1 or 4 hours of sleep--it does not matter but you are done for the night. Up you go to watch TV or do some email.
Weird dreams. Your dreams are a window into what's important in your head. Do you have dreams about the world ending, your teeth falling out, or the one where you realize on the last day of the semester that you had a college course you did not know about.
You exhibit core personality changes. If you are a collaborator--your start operating solo, or you start yelling at your staff, or retreat into your office when you used to make the rounds with your employees.
Are you uninspired and lack drive. It's a marathon. No it's a sprint. Turns out it is both. As the leader you strive to get the most tasks accomplished. But some days you just can't get out of your own way. Your paralyzed.
Your task list has 23 #1 Priorities. Want to perform a test on yourself? Write down on a sheet of paper the most important projects confronting you today that you need to complete. Be fair and write down everything you're thinking about. How many are on the list? I would guess more than 10 items you feel are critical to your success. Max should be 3.
You start sleeping in another room. Most times you start this as a courtesy to your live-in partner. The real truth is it gives you permission and opportunity to squeeze in more work. Either way it is a signal about your priorities
Kids forget your name. I am only mostly kidding. Detachment from your family or friends for extended period of time indicates too strong a commitment to the job or business. Balance baby.
See any of these in yourself? Get ahead of this and find ways to detach every day and your business will be in better hands.