As an entrepreneur running your own business, how much time should you spend out of the office? It's a question I talk to people about a lot.
For me, managing my schedule and not being in the office 24/7 is important for both my sanity and my company's ability to keep moving forward. I have to be there for my team when they need me. I also need to I'm put time and energy into the things that matter most in my life--and the things that are going to make a positive difference for the organization.
Running a company is a marathon, not a sprint. When you dedicate 100 percent of your weekdays to being in the office or in front of the screen, crossing things off your ever-growing to-do list, you'll quickly deplete yourself. You'll also miss out on the things that help you grow as a person and entrepreneur.
Balance is a top priority for me. And the way I've achieved it is by dedicating three months of every year to "non-business business."
The importance of taking time away
You have to manage your schedule -- and that includes building in time away from the office. It boils down to energy: To be a strong leader, you have to allocate time and energy toward the things that matter most in your life and what helps move your business forward.
Seventy-five percent of my time is dedicated to everything that comes with being a CEO. When I step into the office, I'm making tough decisions, brainstorming with partners, and constantly looking at our metrics and assessing trends to be sure we're on target. I'm focused on recruiting, interviewing and hiring, and mentoring and managing my team. And I'm also building our thought leadership library, which spans articles, blogs and videos.
The other 25 percent of my time -- equivalent to three months of the year -- goes to the family, personal development and strategy with my team.
Here's how I break it down to make this "three months out of the office plan" work:
One month per year is allocated just to family vacations. This can include long weekend trips, quick getaways with my wife, and visits back home to see my parents. It's time away from day-to-day responsibilities, exploring some other city or just connecting with the people who matter most.
It's all too easy to work and work and work. Burnout is a real thing, and as a business owner, you have a responsibility to rest and recharge.
To ease the stress that comes with time away from the office, plan ahead. Delegate key priorities among your team for the days you'll be away and identify what information you need to be reported to you while you're out.
It's easy to put personal development and network-building activities on the backburner. While that may save you time in the near term, it cuts off key lifelines to personal development.
I spend roughly 1/12th of the year out of the office attending mastermind meetings. I'm in two mastermind groups that meet for half days once per month, which equates to 10 to 12 days over the course of the year. The remainder of this month is spent at retreats, educational events, seminars, workshops, and conferences.
This may sound like a lot, and it is. Without this crucial education, there's no way I could innovate as quickly.
When's the last time you invested in your own growth? What are you losing by denying yourself this time? Taking a couple days a month for your own personal development is an investment in your business, too. Much of what you learn can be shared with your team and implemented to streamline a process or get you over a hurdle.
Finally, put your day-to-day duties on pause for 30 days per year to focus on strategic planning. When I was a solo consultant, I booked spa days at a local resort strictly to plan with no distractions. Now, I get away with my team on annual and quarterly bases to disconnect from the work and work on the plan.
You need space and separation to get a clearer look. So do your employees. Planning sessions shouldn't happen in your conference room.
It's extremely easy to slip into the busy trap and miss these opportunities all together. Plan for your time off and guard it as you'd guard meetings with your top customers. Then, when you're in the office, make sure you're removing the roles and responsibilities from your plate that take you away from the important, highest-value tasks.