“I don’t even have time to think any more.”

Owning a business is all-consuming. Even when you’re not “on the job,” you’re worrying about all the issues that came up today and the fires you’ll have to put out tomorrow.

But I hope that you want your company to thrive for years and decades to come. You’ll have to pace yourself. Otherwise you’ll become its primary limiting factor. Here are some great ways to sustain yourself for the long term:

Realize that there’s an infinite amount of work to be done. There will always be more demands on your time and attention than you can handle, so you’ll have to become good at setting limits and sticking to them. Some things will be delayed or ignored, so have them be the ones that don’t matter as much. Learn how to say no.

Watch out for your health. If you’re not getting enough sleep and your body is holding you back, you’re not going to be as effective. Your employees and business will suffer as a result.

Honor your down-time. Whether that’s spending a couple of hours each night with the family, taking a vacation or doing work around the house on Sunday, these periods are vital to your mental rejuvenation. Each person’s needs are different, so look closely at what works for you and honor this time – despite the fact that there’s an infinite amount of work to be done.

Figure out how to focus. If you’re going to reserve down-time, then it’s critical to have your on-the-job time be truly productive. I often see leaders thrashing around, attempting to make tiny steps of progress on dozens of tasks. It’s much better to spend 30 minutes bringing something to completion than to make one minute of progress and realize that you have 29 more of those before getting to a result. Especially when you keep re-working that first minute because you never gained momentum.

Learn how to delegate. Even for business owners with dozens or hundreds of employees, I often find an emotional attachment: “It’s important to have it done right, so I need to do it myself!” This isn’t sustainable, and is a recipe for burnout. Start investing in your people to learn those important tasks, giving them the support and guidance they need. There’s great joy in knowing you can rely on your team to do things well when you’re away.

Celebrate the positive. There are hundreds of issues that you need to address, but how are you going to maintain your energy if you don’t recognize the progress you’re making? Great leaders know how to highlight the positive, to inspire themselves and their teams to even greater results. Don’t be known only as your company’s harshest critic.

Create a culture of balance. Of course you reward employees who give you their best work, who deliver the most value for the business. But if they only see your work-hard side, they may burn out. It’s better to show people that rest is necessary and an appropriate amount of playfulness is OK. The best companies find unique ways to help people regenerate their energy so they’ll consistently deliver their best.

Spend time on the big picture. As a business coach, one of my primary roles is to give my client uninterrupted time to get away from the details. We all have a tendency to get drawn into the small issues, because that’s where we seem to make the most tangible progress. But every leader needs to spend time at least once a month to reflect about whether the business is making progress on its long-term goals and vision.

You’re striving for a mental state where you’re consistently effective because you can focus on the truly important issues, keep true to the vision, and build a team who are each giving you their best. It’s your role to do this when you’re the leader.

It makes working a lot more fun too.

Carl Dierschow is a Small Fish Business Coach based in Fort Collins. His website is www.smallfish.us.

Copyright © 2013 Northern Colorado Business Report by Biz West Media.
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