A CEO client is over-extended, has too many priorities to juggle, and is simultaneously hyper-stressed and hyper-exhausted. Actually this describes many of my clients. Does this sound like you too?
Friends, this is no way to go through life. As someone who has dodged two cancer bullets while building two businesses and raising two sons, I have a very healthy respect for mortality, along with the insight that tomorrow is not promised to anyone.
During our call this week, my client shared her anxiety about getting everything accomplished, and that she has made no time to exercise or decompress in several days. She is on a non-stop treadmill.
Priority 1: Self-Care
She presented many business challenges, but I cut to the chase, and addressed the most dangerous threat to her business welfare: her own self care. It is highly likely the treadmill won't stop. This is the precise reason she must make her own care a priority.
Leadership is a tough gig. If you want to show up 100% every day for your employees and your customers, self-care is non-negotiable.
Every day, without fail, your personal well-being must be on your calendar. As is often the case with entrepreneurs and type-A leaders, you may believe that if you can't give 120% to an endeavor, then it is not worth doing it all. This thinking is flawed.
Any amount of self-care matters.
If you typically do a 60-minute morning workout, but on some mornings your only option is to skip it or to do a shorter workout, then opt for the shorter workout. You do this to safeguard your sacred self-time, to maintain a consistent habit, and to protect your health.
Skipping one workout in a disciplined routine matters. When you skip, you interrupt the habit. Skipping once leads to a likelihood you will skip again. Every decision to show up or to not show up matters. This is a mindset you can't compromise.
If you can't make it to a gym, you can create your own home routine. There are dozens of fitness apps to lead you through floor-work workouts, and countless running and walking apps. There is virtually no excuse today to skip a daily workout.
If you prefer meditation and yoga over exercise to alleviate stress, again there is no excuse to skip. There are meditation apps to lead you through yoga poses and breathing exercises that take less than 15 minutes. Surely you can find 15 minutes to care for yourself during an overwhelming day.
Your self-care and self-appreciation is one of the most important aspects of your success. There is no room for long-term self-sacrifice or self-deprecation in leadership.
If you don't take care of you, who will?
Priority 2: Time Management
In addition to adapting a slightly inflexible and highly protective perspective regarding self-care, leaders have to be equally vigilant regarding time management habits.
In my work with my clients, I ask them to complete a worksheet that prioritizes obligations according to these topics:
- Competing priority
- Deadline for completion
- Amount of time required
- Level of effort for time/money (low, medium, high)
- Additional stakeholders required
- Expected outcome/return on investment
Mapping these criteria out in a way that enables you to compare priorities takes the task list to a new level. You will likely arrive a different conclusions regarding the order of your priorities.
In addition, I ask my clients to make an effort to single-task. Multi-tasking compromises the quality of the work, slows down productivity, and increases stress.
There are several other time management strategies that you can apply, including:
- Saying No to optional activities.
- Bundling meetings that are in the same general location.
- Limiting calls to 15 minutes, and meetings to 30 minutes. All scheduled calls and meetings should have a structured agenda with clearly stated objectives and expected outcomes.
- Removing non-essential meetings and tasks from your calendar by either canceling them or delegating them.
- Delegating all administrative tasks.
- Managing the flow of emails/texts by activating the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone/computer.
- Turning off all social media notifications, which are completely useless, thoroughly disruptive, and not tied to your productivity in any way.
We've become a reactive, knee-jerk society where we instinctively respond to every text, email, call, and any noise our devices makes. To regain control over our valuable time, we must put a stake in the ground and reclaim it.
We own our time. We own our energy.
We own the current state of our physical and emotional well-being.
If you are turning over this ownership to anyone else, isn't it time you stopped?