The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “How do you create balance in your professional life? is by Mark Rogers, founder and CEO, BoardProspects.com.
Busy entrepreneurs and executives have a lot to juggle, and it can easily become overwhelming. Between writing business plans, hiring employees, managing teams, raising capital, engaging customers, and networking events, there’s a lot on a leader’s plate. While there are many helpful suggestions on ways to balance everything, here’s another piece of advice I’ve learned during my journey: You can’t do it all. And you shouldn’t.
Don’t get me wrong – on any given day I’m deep in the weeds of leading my board recruitment startup, BoardProspects.com, preparing for and attending meetings, traveling, mapping out business projections and plans,drafting financing proposals, managing vendors and teams, media interviews, and more. Oh, and I have a family who I try to see as much as I can, too. All of these things are important — if not urgent — for my startup’s success, but I am only one person, and so are you. Here’s my best advice for how to create balance and stay sane:
Admit that you can’t do it all
Many entrepreneurs and executives are excited about being successful and focus too heavily on too many things. You are only one person and there are only so many hours in a day, so prioritize 1-2 projects each day/month/quarter and give them your all.
Identify your strengths
Hire talented professionals to handle the areas where you aren’t as strong. Building a strong team will allow you to step back and create a well-oiled machine that doesn’t require 100% of your attention 100% of the time. Hire the right people and then trust your team do their jobs.
Helping your employees grow professionally is extremely important, but don’t forget about yourself, their leader. Attend networking events to learn from others, or join educational webinars and conferences. Another great way to learn from others and expand your professional network is to serve on a board. This fosters new relationships and gives you insight into the inner workings of a business, its strategies, and leadership insights that can help you make the right decisions for your own business. It also connects you to career-oriented, successful professionals to learn from.
Every now and then, slow down and take a deep breath. Feel proud of what you’ve created. Yes, there are a million items on your to-do list, but it’s important to take quiet moments to slow down and appreciate the work you’ve put in and what you’ve grown. Pressing pause often allows a sense of clarity that isn’t available when you’re stuck in the weeds, so savor it. It might give you a new idea, a fresh way of thinking, or allow you to recognize a solution to a problem you hadn’t thought of before.
Create a sense of community
Oftentimes it can be lonely leading a team or a business if you don’t have a co-founder or peer. Join an industry organization or business networking group in order to feel a sense of community. Read articles and business books by other business leaders to learn how they balance it all or approach different obstacles.
Read a newspaper every day
Not online – an actual newspaper. Many executives attempt to read newspapers online but inevitably become distracted when an email or text message appears on the screen. In my opinion, there is nothing more valuable in terms of your professional and personal growth than turning your attention from your PC or mobile device and taking the time to read a newspaper. It will give you a valuable perspective on important events and developments transpiring around you each day – events you should be aware about but aren’t because you are too caught up in trying to do it all.