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6 Tips for CEOs to Master Work-Life Balance

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For many CEOs, workdays mostly consist of managing an almost endless stream of emergencies. It can be difficult for them to find time for strategizing, generating ideas, and developing long-term goals because they’re constantly putting out fires. These dueling responsibilities can easily lead to burnout and sacrifices in the executive’s personal life to make more time for work.

Companies entrust CEOs with a wide range of responsibilities. Because of this, top execs typically carry an extremely heavy workload and often don’t get a chance to rest and recharge.

If you’re a busy CEO of a company of any size, use these six tips to stop sleeping in your office and find a healthy work-life balance:

1. Recharge Whenever Possible

You might not have the luxury of a whole day or weekend off—few CEOs do. But that doesn’t mean that you should give up on recharging altogether. Find small opportunities to reset whenever you can. Spend an evening with your family or take a long lunch to give yourself a chance to rest and reflect.

It’s also a good idea to take more time to recharge when the workload slows down. There will naturally be slower and busier weeks, and as the CEO you need to ride that wave and recharge whenever there’s a lull. Look for those opportunities and seize them—it’s all too easy to fill valuable time with busy work.

2. Delegate

As a CEO, you have many responsibilities, but how many of those do you actually need to be taking on yourself? After all, you’re not an expert in every aspect of day-to-day company operations. That’s just impossible. Give some of those responsibilities to employees who are more qualified to perform those tasks. 

CEOs can create more value for their companies by focusing on what they do best and delegating the rest. Putting your energy toward mission, values, strategy, vision, and growth will not only help the company succeed, but will also create more time for a healthy work-life balance.

3. Acknowledge Your Personal Needs

CEOs are people too, and even those who run huge companies understand the importance of balance and personal time. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s tip is to “find your rhythm,” which is different for everyone. For some people, being home in the evenings is important. For others, it’s finding time to exercise or get enough sleep. 

What’s important is to acknowledge your own personal need to help avoid burnout. If you start feeling resentful, you won’t improve your work-life balance and you’ll probably start to encounter trouble at work. Figuring out your rhythm and personal priorities is key.

4. Prioritize Your Downtime

As a CEO, your to-do list is never-ending. You’ll never get to the end of it, so you need to schedule downtime into your schedule knowing that you’ll never be truly finished. You may choose to take the weekends off, the evenings, or a completely different schedule depending on the needs of the business, but regardless of when you make time for downtime, it’s important to be present during your time off. Use your downtime purposefully, whether you choose to use it to build connections with friends and loved ones, care for yourself, relax, or just go for a walk. It’s your time to recharge your batteries and it’s important to prioritize those needs.

5. Establish Boundaries

Work will fill the time it’s given, so if you don’t create clear boundaries, it’s easy to let your life become your work. One way to establish boundaries is to put a natural limit on certain activities. GM CEO Mary Barra uses this tactic by scheduling meetings near the end of the workday. The meeting has to stop at a specific time because she has to leave for her child’s sporting event. These clear boundaries can prevent work from creeping into your personal life and force you to take time for yourself. It also sends a strong and important message to your team: it’s okay to have a life.

6. Take Technology Breaks

When you take your downtime, really take it. No answering emails or taking calls when you’re off the clock. One of the best ways to really recharge is to take breaks from technology. Leaving your phone and laptop behind while you walk your dog, play with your kids, read a book, or hit the gym is a great way to really be present or reflect and de-stress. Take breaks from the screen as often as you can!

Don’t Let Life Pass You By

It’s so important to live your life, even when it feels like you can’t take any time away from the office. Studies show that 51% of professionals miss important family events because of work-life imbalance. You don’t want to look back on your life someday and feel regret. Take a day off from time to time. The company will survive and may even be better off because you’ll be rested and ready for anything.

Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of Fortune 500 companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis.

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