Just the other day I was working with a highly competent, high achieving executive, whose penchant for overscheduling and overcommitting was running him into the ground. He was the classic multi-tasking perfectionist – trying to jam 25 hours into a 24 hour day, scheduling meetings unrealistically close to one another; obsessively packing in so many meetings, activities, conversations, and training sessions into a single day that he was constantly running behind schedule.
In some ways, he was living the classic entrepreneurial lifestyle – but in other ways, he was deeply worried and concerned about his health, well being, and ability to be a good parent for his children. We spoke for an hour and I thought I’d share some of the tips we came up with for living a healthier lifestyle.
Tip 1: Work on how you “frame” the idea of a more relaxed schedule in the first place.Instead of feeling like a slacker for having a more reasonable, relaxed and humane daily schedule, think of a more reasonable schedule as a gift you’re giving yourself. Of course, easing up a bit may be detrimental to your business in the short term. But chances are that in the long term, it may decrease the likelihood of burnout or health concerns.
Tip 2: Find (and embrace) your conviction to change. To make a change like this, the effort has to be worth it. In the case of the entrepreneur I was working with, the source of conviction was his health. His father had died of a heart attack, and so he was afraid he might be heading for the same outcome. And also, there was also his family. He was truly dedicated to his family, but work obsession was taking its toll – on the time he spent with the family and on his ability to be “present,” even when he was in the room.
Tip 3: Think of 1-2 concrete changes to make and make them. It’s one thing to commit to a new style in your mind, but it’s another thing entirely to actually make the change. So, the concrete change we worked on was to have a 30 minute time buffer between all scheduled meetings. In other words, if there was a meeting from 10-11, the next meeting would begin at 11:30. We also made a second rule, which was that everyday he was going to schedule a meeting with himself. And this meeting time would be sacrosanct. In other words, he couldn’t just bump the meeting if something else came up. And during this meeting, he would do something to help his personal wellbeing, such as a bit of yoga, a meditation or a walk.
Being busy, stressed out, and overscheduled is a choice. No one forces you to make your life miserable. But it’s also something that’s not so easy to change. We’re actually still in week 1 of this particular experiment and I can’t wait to hear how it goes. Are you so over-extended and overbooked with activities, events, meetings, and responsibilities that you can’t seem to catch up?