Work-Life Balance: How to work a 40-hour week, stay in business, and still take a vacation

One of the most challenging parts of running a company is often remembering when NOT to work. I always have a list of things to work on that could keep me in the office late or end up coming home with me—and I know you do too.

As company leaders we make tough decisions every day. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance requires tough decisions too.

In fact, that’s the first step to a better work-life balance, deciding to make a change.

Decision.
Are you committed to finding a better balance to benefit you, your family, and yes, your company? Then it’s time to commit and make some choices. I schedule my downtime just as I schedule my workday. I have a set time that I leave the office, and I do my best to stick with it. I’ve made a conscious decision to limit my weekly hours spent working and then make tough choices to make sure it happens. And when I’m home, I set work aside and focus on spending time with my family or relaxing. It can be as simple as putting down the cell phone and closing the computer. Leaving work, but staying attached to it and distracted by it is not truly leaving work.

Delegation.
But how can you go home with so much left to do? The key is to delegate responsibilities, not tasks. Reducing your operational involvement is the best way to cut back your working hours without negatively affecting the productivity and success of your company. When you’re not there, who is in charge? Who do you trust to make the decisions that keep your company running? Every CEO needs someone they can trust who knows the business as well as they do. I made a conscious decision to trust my team, and the best way to learn that this works is to give it a try. Sure, it took some getting used to, but once I saw that the world didn’t fall apart when I let other people share the load, it became much easier to leave my work at the office and truly enjoy my time at home.

Reduce your operational involvement by delegating responsibilities, not tasks.

Discipline.
If you cannot take a vacation from your business, you don’t have a business – you have a job. If my business were in a position where it couldn’t run without me, then I would make changes until it could. I choose to take a vacation several times every year and I stick to that plan. Remember the key to maintaining a work-life balance is applying the same discipline in your life as you do in your work. If you say you’re going to go home at 6 p.m., do it. And if you say you’re going to take a vacation, take it. Having the discipline to say ‘No’ to the office and trust that it can run without you is the only way to achieve the work-life balance we all strive towards.

If you can’t leave your business, you don’t have a business – you have a job.

Lastly, I always remind myself that better work-life balance is not only better for me and my family, it’s better for my company too. It’s possible to lead a balanced life even if you’re running a company, just remember the three Ds: Decision, Delegation, & Discipline.

What about you? Have you found any great ways to cut back your hours and get more out of life? Any success stories about how more time away from the office actually improved your business? Please leave them in the comments below.

And, as always, thank you for sharing this post!

Thomas Michael

Thomas Michael is the CEO of the Michael Management Corporation, the leading provider of award-winning online SAP training. He enjoys living in Manhattan and just booked a trip to see the Oktoberfest in Germany this year.

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