Can’t catch a break? You may be working too hard

You’re working too hard.

I mean it. It’s bad for your health, a strain on your relationship, and the source of most of your anxiety.

You probably know all of this already. And you probably already recognize that disconnecting, unplugging, digital detoxing etc. will make you a better and more present friend, parent, partner, or spouse. But I promise it’ll make you a better entrepreneur as well.

Leading a hyper growth business, you’re trained to always be on, which, in this day and age, translates to being glued to screens: email, social media feeds, mobile apps, etc.  You’re super-responsive to customers, investors, and employees and want them to feel free to ping you 24/7.

You think all of this hyper-availability is helping you grow your business, while it’s actually slowing you down and wiping you out, not just keeping you out of the creative zone but just as importantly out of the money-making zone.

If you don’t believe me, just ask my dear friend Roger. A low-tech genius—even though he’s in his Forties, he started using email only a few years ago, and spends most of his time offline—Roger loves businesses like office furniture distribution and gutter cleaning, enterprises many other people would consider decidedly unglamorous. His main business today easily generates nine figures a year, without any VCs or minority shareholders breathing down his neck.

Roger works harder than anyone I know. But he is as intense about his time off as he is about his time at the office, insisting on carefully planned vacations, entertaining clients and friends, or just taking long hikes to clear his mind and think. He taught me many important lessons about the importance of time off. Here are a few:

  • Find Your Communications Groove.  Some people text. Others email. A few old freaks like me even talk on the phone every now and then, or—would you believe it?—like meeting in person. Whatever your communications mode of choice may be, it’s likely that it’s the one that causes you the least distress, comes most naturally to you, and makes the least demands on your time. Gently guide your colleagues to contact you via your preferred method, and you’ll see an immediate improvement.
  • Don’t Appear Too Eager:. Just like the overly anxious high school underclassman who is way too available for his or her suitor, in business, you can also be too eager and it’s similarly a turn off.  Much more important to come up with tangible and sometimes breakthrough solutions for your clients and users, than scoring brownie points by being the first to respond to an email chain.
  • The Office Isn’t the Only Place for Business. If you’re like me and most of my clients over the years, you’re not winning that big piece of business in a chatroom. You get it by flying out to the customer, pressing flesh, establishing chemistry, getting to know people, getting people to know you. Technology has changed much, but not the basics: we’re still people, and people still prefer to get to meet the people they work with in person. And when they do, it’s not really work. Which leads me to my next point:
  • Most of the Time You Should Be Having Fun. I once went to a chiropractor who even before the first adjustment begins by asking his patients to tell him the last time they had fun. For him, it’s the ultimate diagnostic tool of who’s uptight and who’s relaxed. Same in business, you want to be like that pro ball player, still retaining that child like sense of fun and mischievous smile. Learn how to schedule more and more of your business aspects so that they include stuff you actually like: coffee at that lovely little joint, lunch at your favorite sushi place, a ball game with a client, dinner somewhere new and exciting.

Many of the most successful people I know are successful in business because they actually do no work on vacation, take at least one day off a week, meditate to begin the day or randomly play hooky. They are focused, not frantic, and all of them instinctively know how to power down before they can power back up.

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