Elon Musk revealed the true toll his work is having on his mental and physical health. He often works several days in a row without leaving the office, hasn't taken a vacation since 2001, and relies on Ambien to help him sleep.
Musk is not alone. Apple CEO to stay on top of his workload. Mark Cuban stayed up until 2 A.M. constantly and didn't take a vacation for seven years when he started his first business. Jeff Bezos worked 12 hour days, seven days a week, to start Amazon. The list goes on. Tim Cook wakes up at 3:45 A.M.
Does it have to be this way? Is working until til you drop even a good idea?
It's a mistake to look at these CEOs and model their behavior. Working a lot doesn't guarantee you'll get more done. In fact, it's the opposite. A recent Stanford University study showed that productivity at work drops by a full 66 percent by 60 hours of work in a given week.
So, instead of burning the midnight oil, here are three things you can do to actually increase the impact of your work week:
1. Make good decisions quickly.
A Harvard Business Review study found that CEOs who are decisive are 12 times as likely to be high-performing. The value you bring to your business is not tied to the number of hours you work. It's tied to your ability to make good decisions quickly. If you make good decisions slowly or make bad decisions quickly, you increase your risk of failure.
Learning how to make good decisions quickly is one of the highest value skills you can bring to the table. As a rule of thumb, once you have about 65-70 percent of the information you need to make a decision, make the decision.
2. Plan around life's rocks.
Your life's rocks are the big, important things. Like sleep, spending time with loved ones, exercise, and hobbies. Every New Year's, instead of setting New Year's resolutions, my family and I set annual goals. Then, we literally schedule time in our calendars to achieve these goals.
If I want to exercise four days per week, I create a recurring time for me to run. If I want to take a summer vacation, I hold the week in my calendar. And so on.
Figure out what's most important to you in your life, make time for these things first, and plan everything else, including work, around your rocks. Prioritizing your rocks will decrease your stress, increase your happiness, and as a result, leave you better equipped to deal with the ongoing demands of your work week.
3. Schedule downtime.
Running at full steam all the time is a big risk. On any given day, you might awake to an unforeseen change in your business. Maybe you'll lose your biggest client, or the economy will crash. Regardless of what comes to pass, your business will need you firing on all cylinders. If you run full steam ahead all the time, you won't have any reserves for high pressure days.
If you achieve Nos. 1 and 2 and still find yourself working crazy hours, set aside some down time in your week. I literally schedule quiet time in my calendar every single Friday.
Elon Musk is burned out. Time will tell what happens to him and to Tesla. Use this as a lesson to be intentional about your work week and take control of your work-life balance.
There are about 6,000,000 private companies in the US, and about 3,600 public ones. This means there are probably about about 20 million executives and senior leaders running these companies.
Whether you own one of these companies or work for one, do yourself and your team a favor. Don't work just for the sake of working. Instead, be intentional about the impact your work has and take control your time.