Until a few years ago I worked non-stop—sometimes seven days a week—and often well into the night. I’d do this constantly with no breaks, no interruptions, and certainly no real time to think. Inevitably, my bursts of energy got shorter and shorter until burnout became my default.
After trial and error, I discovered the most powerful coping method was to switch my approach and work in intensive three-months blocks. Now, at the end of every quarter, I take a week out of the office to recharge, measure what I’ve done, and plan what’s next.
This has not only helped me to execute faster and better, but it has helped keep me highly motivated for the past three years and counting.
During the early years, I would look at our financial forecasts almost every day. When times were tough, this would become my most depressing obsession. I constantly compared what the business had achieved against our forecasts and continuously adjusted and re-adjusted accordingly.
Then, one day, I delegated it—and the results have been stunning. By removing the financials from my head and instead focusing on what our customers want and what our team thinks we should do, we’ve gone through huge profitable growth.
Failure to delegate
The bigger lesson here is that the art of delegation pays dividends. Before you started working at WeWork did you find yourself ordering stationery, toilet paper, kitchen supplies, cleaning the coffee machine, or taking out the trash? Perhaps you still book travel for your team, issue invoices, or chase late payers. We’ve all done it, many of us still do, and wondered how much time we waste each year.
There are multiple options here. Most business owners can’t justify the cost of a personal assistant and, in a serviced office, are unlikely to need an office manager. However, for the tasks that can be done remotely, like comparing and booking travel, answering phones when you’re not around, or updating your company blog and team page, outsource it to a virtual assistant.
Make it clear to all your employees that office management is a shared responsibility (no matter how skilled they are) and assign responsibilities fairly.
Head down, steam emerging from ears
Business owners are doers by definition. There’s no such thing as a typical day but, in the space of 10 hours, you might have struck a new deal with a potential partner, held an interview with a new recruit, placated a disgruntled customer, fixed a technical issue with your developers, and had a private chat with an employee about an HR issue.
Wearing all those hats, plus prioritizing family and friends, can make it seem like finding time to focus on the future of your business is impossible. But while proof of concept must come first, failing to plan ahead will hold you back. Schedule time in your calendar to step away from operations, and think hard about the long term goals. Do this offsite to avoid temptation!