As the CEO of a publicly-traded company, you can feel like you're a shark that needs to constantly keep moving to survive. You literally can't stop. There are always goals and challenges to pursue while tending to the interests of our shareholders--and that doesn't even count the endless onslaught of email! Yet, if you're not careful, you can quickly become overwhelmed, stressed out, and, well, burnt out. This dynamic doesn't apply just to CEOs either: just about anyone in a leadership position in a Fortune 500 company, or even a startup, faces similar challenges. Yes, it's crucial to take some vacation time away from our jobs every now and then to recharge. But I also believe there are a couple of key disciplines we need to embrace on a daily basis to avoid becoming toast and burning out.
1. Get Your Blood Pumping Early.
I have found that one of the best tools that helps me manage a busy and stressful schedule is making the time to exercise first thing every morning--including when I'm traveling. I typically start my day at 5:45 a.m. with a run. Research shows that moderate aerobic exercise can improve your mood for up to 12 hours! I also find that it gives me much more energy during the day, it clears my mind, and it allows quality time for thinking and reflecting--all which make for a great antidote for stress.
2. Track Your Time.
Do you ever walk out the door late on a Friday and wonder where in the heck your week went? Do you have a hard time even remembering what you accomplished in all that time? That used to be me. Then, I started tracking my time using an app called Toggl. It's been an eye-opening experience--I was amazed by how much time I was spending doing unproductive stuff. Now, by really understanding what I spend my time doing, I can focus and make the most of what I choose to use my time for.
3. Recharge At Lunch.
It used to be that taking an hour for lunch was like a God-given right. Not anymore. If you're like me, you might often find yourself multitasking by wolfing down a bite to eat while you try to send emails or catch up on some report reading. But what if you thought about that time differently by thinking of it as a midday chance to recharge --even if it was for 30 minutes or even 10? Depending on your energy level, you might even use your lunchtime as a chance to network, socialize, and help build your company's culture by inviting different people out to eat or take a walk outside with you on a beautiful day. I think you'd be amazed at how reinvesting that time on a daily basis can help you avoid feeling wiped out come the end of the week.
4. Postpone Your Tee Times.
While my work is a top priority, my family is my first priority. That's what work-life balance means for me. Now, admittedly, it's hard these days to completely shut down even at home. Instead, what I do is make sure that during family time, I put work aside. So, for instance, when I get home from work, I'm with my kids. We have dinner together and I help them with their homework (when I can!). But once they are off doing their own thing, I usually get back to work. That's when I get through the masses of email/reading that comes my way. When it comes to the weekend, I work only when the kids are still asleep or busy with something. The key is that I prioritize family time when I'm at home and I don't multitask when I'm with my kids! A lot of people will be on email at a baseball game. I worry kids see that and start to develop their own bad habits.