3. Lack of Sleep
I’ve written about sleep before, and I’ve become a sleep evangelist of sorts over the last decade. (Here’s why sleep is a leader’s secret weapon in my view.)
Frankly, my conversion was involuntary. I used to pride myself on how little sleep I got. Now, most days, I unapologetically nap during the day and generally get six to eight hours every night.
The truth is, before I started taking sleep seriously, I was awake, but I was a zombie. And despite being awake more hours, I wasn’t nearly as productive as I am today.
To say I’ve been 10x more productive since I started taking sleep seriously is probably not an exaggeration. I wanted to write a book all through my 30s. Never got a manuscript done.
I’ve written four books in the last eight years. Plus launched this blog, and a podcast, started speaking at conferences more often, and worked full-time on top of that.
I find when I cheat sleep now, it feels like my world comes crashing down. If I can call an audible and simply admit “Man, I’m tired” and get some rest, things come back into alignment surprisingly fast.
Not convinced being rested is a key component to great leadership? Gary Vaynerchuck and Arianna Huffington have a fascinating conversation about the necessity of sleep for leaders here.
A good night’s sleep is a secret leadership weapon too many leaders miss.
4. The Amount of Time Since Your Last Break
Leaders are often famous for taking little time off.
Like missing sleep, you make a mistake when you don’t make the time to recharge.
I’ve discovered over the years that if I am going to operate at my peak, I need a break or a diversion every six to eight weeks, if even for a day. An extra day off, a short trip or something that can refuel me (even if it’s somewhat work related) is often really restorative.
The longer it’s been since your last break, the longer it will take for you to feel truly great again. So take a break.
5. What’s Happening at Home
Too often leaders think they can separate what happens at work from what happens at home.
Leading poorly at home always impacts how you lead at work. Just like you carry the weight of leadership around with you wherever you go, you also carry the weight of a bad marriage or a fractured family with you wherever you go.
If you win at work but lose at home, you’ve lost.
6. Constant Connectivity
You can leave work, but thanks to your phone, work never leaves you.
I’m a connected guy, but even I found the constant buzzing of my phone to be too much.
Last year I turned off all notifications on my phone except for phone calls and text messages. And I’m selective about giving out my cell number.
I no longer feel my phone vibrate every time someone emails me, tweets me, likes a pic on Instagram or interacts on Facebook or Snapchat.
This isn’t just a tip for home; it helps at work too. It’s very hard to do any thinking if your phone is buzzing every minute, which for a season of my life it was.
Since your work no longer leaves you, you need to leave your work.
Another change I made last year: sleeping with my phone in another room, turned off. Yep, I know that’s radical. I use an old school alarm clock to wake me up. Most of the time, I’ve slept so well I wake up before the alarm. Imagine that.
Since—thanks to your phone—your work no longer leaves you, you need to leave your work.