When you become successful, you almost inevitably face a challenge … a limitation.
There are only so many hours in the day … and only so much of you to go around.
So how do you fit everything into your schedule without compromising your performance … and risking eventual physical and mental breakdown?
It’s an important question because too many people, especially the overachievers among us, think we can continue to push the limits of our endurance and not suffer any serious consequences.
But so often, here’s what happens.
Perform … perform … perform … perform … breakdown.
Healthcare professionals see it all the time. Hard-driver types come in to see them with all kinds of auto-immune diseases and other chronic ailments resulting from constant exposure to high-stress situations, lack of sleep, lack of down time, eating bad food on the go, and other bad practices.
They pushed too hard. They didn’t take care of themselves. The balance in their lives wasn’t there.
So, what’s the answer? How do you help as many people as you can help without compromising the quality of your work or endangering your health?
There are basically five things you can do.
- Be more careful about jamming too much into one day and scheduling meetings, calls, and such too close together.
Often, it isn’t the absolute volume of work that’s a problem. It’s how you schedule it.
What would happen if you spread your existing load out more in time? Probably nothing all that bad. We often create urgency when things could actually wait. Remember, the turtle won the race.
- Hire somebody to do the things someone else can do, so you’re freed up to concentrate on doing the things only you can do. Sounds nice, and it usually isn’t as easy or as perfect a solution as it sounds.
- Work with an associate to handle your overflow. Great idea on paper, but, again, not always as easy as it sounds.
- Simply take on less.
- Be more selective and take on only those clients who are a more perfect fit and easier to work with. A long day that’s really hard is different from a long day that isn’t as stressful or challenging, because you’re really enjoying the work.
None of these represents a perfect solution in most cases. I get that. But you have to have a plan, or else you’ll probably just keep loading in too much until something snaps.
So let me tell you why I’m writing about this now, and see if you can relate.
On a recent hour and a half trip to the airport, I got one new executive coaching client and a new project with an existing client. Yea. Bring it on. AND, all new work at this point adds to a calendar that’s already really full.
I also received about 30 emails during that 1 ½ hour trip with people needing a response fairly quickly and some folks needing to schedule a call within the next day or two to discuss urgent matters.
The challenge? I was headed out of town on business. My next two days were already booked tight. I was slated to start early in the morning and not finish with meetings until 6 pm each night … and then there were the dinner meetings. How the heck was I supposed to fit in ANYTHING extra?
I managed to work things out, maybe not ideally, but the good news is it all became so clear.
This lack of “white space” on my calendar is doing two bad things. It’s stressing me and challenging my ability to consistently deliver. And how are new and exciting opportunities supposed to show up if I’m not leaving any opening for them?
Starting now, I’m back to building in more breathing room between meetings, conference calls, appointments, etc. I’m also giving myself more time to meet deadlines.
And you know what, I’ve been letting my self-care … including my scared gym time … slide as I’ve sought to accommodate the load.
No more. That gets built in to the schedule FIRST.
Because “success” without the room to enjoy what you’re doing, breathe, and stay healthy is not success.