Managers, Balance Your Lives

by Denny Strigl

In Chapter 3 of Managers, Can You Hear Me Now? I presented my thoughts on the number of hours managers work in any given day.  Many managers I’ve worked with have gotten hung up on the long hours they put into their jobs, believing longer is better. They feel an odd sense of accomplishment if they are the last car out of the parking lot.  However, the number of hours a manager works is not the main issue.  Rather, I’ve always believed what is important is the work managers get done throughout the day.  If managers operate with an “I’m here, I’ve got time, I’m in no rush” attitude, they are making a mistake.  When managing others, to use an old phase, “Time is of the essence.”  Wasting any amount of time distracts from achieving results.

Whenever managers bragged about the hours they worked, I suggested that if they were better at managing their time, they might be able to complete their work between 8 AM and 5 PM.

What about working at home during the evening and over the weekends?  As I say in my book, yes, there will be times when it is necessary to put in a few extra hours–but only for extraordinary projects or deadlines, which are the exception, not the rule.  Of course, there will be times when something has to be done at home to prepare for the next day, but I think too many managers arrive home, have dinner and then retire into their dens or studies every night and pound away at the keyboard, sending e-mails, or glued to their to their electronic devices even if they are spending time with their families and friends.  You may find this surprising coming from the former CEO of Verizon Wireless, but I have found some of the biggest distractions in life are emailing and texting.  I have known too many people who have destroyed relationships because they were addicted to their electronic devices.

So here’s the bottom line: When you are at work, focus on work; minimize distractions and be as productive as you can be. When you are not at work, focus on your family, friends and leisure activities; recharge your batteries and come to work the next day re-energized.

Until the last several years of my working career my life revolved around my work.  What I have come to know is the importance of balancing your work life with your personal life.  I strongly believe it is important for managers to take time to enjoy their family and friends, and to nurture their personal relationships.  If managers don’t focus on bringing balance into their lives, they will suffer either personally or professionally, and often both.

Once again, my advice to managers is this: when you are at work, be at work and try to use every minute of your day productively.  When you are not at work, truly be away from work and allow yourself time to be with your family and friends.

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