Ten ways to stop work from taking over your life

Working incessantly to achieve career success is frequently prioritised above mental health and personal obligations. While balancing work and life might not be easy early in one's career, figuring it out is necessary to lifelong satisfaction.

Here are 10 ways that CEOs and other leaders find work-life balance, keep sharp, stay happy, and don't burn out.

1. Put family time in your diary

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson

"When you're facing an avalanche of appointments, book time to spend with your family – put it in your work diary. You will also need to prepare your colleagues for those times when an emergency will come up at home and you'll need to drop everything to deal with it, because this is almost certain to happen.

"But rather than thinking of these two aspects of your life as antagonistic, why not combine them? As I've often said, I don't divide work and play: It's all living."

Via Entrepreneur.com

2. Listen to your body

BUMI CEO Jennifer Walzer


"As hard as it is, I know that when I'm feeling sick or run down, I need to try to rest for a day. If something persists, hurts, looks weird, or just doesn't feel right, get it checked out. I know that sounds obvious, but so often we let things go. Now, I think about my friend who has skin cancer.

"My fiance, Brad, and I have started getting up together at 5:30 in the morning to go on our 'workout dates'. I've started running and even participated in a few road races in Central Park. The difference in my energy level and the way that I feel has been incredible. Now, I'm only slightly tired from getting up early to run."

Via The New York Times

3. Don't work on aeroplanes

Evernote CEO Phil Libin

"My best life hack is actually the opposite of a shortcut and certainly doesn't save any time. It's pretty awesome, though, and makes me much happier and more productive in the long run: I don't work on aeroplanes.

"I sleep, I play Minecraft, I read (non-work stuff), I watch movies, I daydream. I don't work. It's great. Makes me look forward to that 13-hour flight to Japan! I work at every other time, though. Sure, I lose some productivity on aeroplanes, but getting rid of all the pre-flight dread more than makes up for it."

Via lifehacker.com

4. Put buffers in your schedule

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner

"If you were to see my calendar, you'd probably notice a host of time slots greyed out but with no indication of what's going on. The grey sections reflect 'buffers', or time periods I've purposely kept clear of meetings.

"In aggregate, I schedule between 90 minutes and two hours of these buffers every day (broken down into 30- to 90-minute blocks). It's a system I developed over the last several years in response to a schedule that was becoming so jammed with back-to-back meetings that I had little time left to process what was going on around me or just think.

"There is no faster way to feel as though your day is not your own, and that you are no longer in control, than scheduling meetings back to back from the minute you arrive at the office until the moment you leave. I've felt the effects of this and seen it with colleagues. Not only is it not fun to feel this way, it's not sustainable."

Via LinkedIn

5. Don't have bad meetings

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban

"Meetings are a waste of time unless you are closing a deal. There are so many ways to communicate in real time or asynchronously that any meeting you actually sit for should have a duration and set outcome before you agree to go."

Via Inc.com

6. Exercise during the work day

Google director of project management Mike Cassidy

"With the exception of one or two days a year, I work out every single day. Fitting a workout into the work day reduces stress, keeps you healthy, and is great for getting 'alone time' to work out business and personal problems. When someone asks for a non work-related meeting, see if they are up for doing the meeting while running or biking together. Work out at lunchtime and then eat at your desk."

Via Inc.com

7. Learn to say no

ANN Inc. CEO Kay Krill

"One of my favourite mentors said to me that you have to learn to jettison the people and things out of your life that just don't matter and put 100 per cent of your energy into things that do have meaning to you. That was very liberating for me. I used to go to all these places because I couldn't say no. Now I pick and choose, and I say no very easily, because I know what's important to me. I only wish that I learned how to do that earlier in my life."

Via Bloomberg Businessweek

8. Work less, think more

HubSpot CEO Bryan Halligan

"I find that people work, work, work and don't think, think, think, and that the percentage of time people work versus think is off. I've tried to shift that, and I try to think a lot and try to increase the amount of time I spend thinking about things versus on the phone or in a meeting or emailing people. So I see people working a lot and I say 'what's your time spent thinking versus working?"'

Via Business Insider

9. Unplug for a few weeks a year

eBay president and CEO John Donahoe

"In today's 24/7 work culture, I believe the notion that business leaders need to be connected warriors every day of the year is mistaken. I am very connected 50 weeks of the year, but I try to completely disconnect for two weeks.

"I admit that the process of cutting off from email and the internet is frequently stressful in the beginning, but it quickly becomes a very liberating experience. Without a constant barrage of work issues to respond to, I find that my mind calms down and my intuition begins to come alive. I am able to see things through a more creative lens and new ideas often emerge from my 'time off'."

Via LinkedIn

10. Know when to move on

Businessman Donald Trump

"Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that's more productive.

"I've learned that there's a big difference between perseverance and stubbornness. Stubbornness involves me forcing things to work, while perseverance requires me to work consistently with what's already working. Some of the best decisions I've made involved saying 'no' to a potential partnership or pulling the plug on a product that wasn't working."

Via Entrepreneur


This article Ten ways to stop work from taking over your life was originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald.