How the Top CEOs Have Lives (And You Can, Too)

Define your own work-life balance by following these tips from top CEOs

You’ve put in the hours and your business is under control–but maybe your kids or your spouse or your friends say they never get to see you. Let’s face it–most CEOs are good at working hard. What’s more challenging for a lot of entrepreneurs is work-life balance. Fitting your schedule around the traditional 8/8/8 approach (eight hours at work, eight hours of sleep, and eight hours pursuing leisure) is often unrealistic for CEOs. For instance, most CEOs working in the services-based industry find work-life balance is especially hard because their very livelihood depends on their responsiveness to clients and client satisfaction.

For these reasons, it’s important for CEOs and executives to define their own work-life balance. What works for you may not work for another, so rather than trying to conform to a preconceived notion, individuals must define the concept for themselves. For example, some CEOs may be content working 50-hour weeks in the office (or even more), while other CEOs may prefer working 40-hour weeks in the office and working remotely from home another 10 hours so they can have more time with family.

Work-life balance often requires some creativity.  Many successful CEOs find ways to squeeze personal time into everyday activities. For example, Hotwire’s president, Henrik Kjellberg, was reported in Fast Company as biking 16 miles to and from home and work. Finding an hour or two (or just a few minutes) for yourself throughout the day can improve your passion, energy, creativity, and productivity.

Defining your work-life balance and getting creative isn’t easy since it involves discipline with the ability to say no. But don’t just take our word for it. Here are some tips from top CEOs—because, if they can have a life, you can, too.

Don’t work on airplanes

Squeeze in personal time whenever, wherever you can so you will be more rested and relaxed for that next big meeting. Evernote’s CEO, Phil Libin, gave up working in the air to squeeze in personal rest and relaxation on. He takes time to sleep, read, play games, and watch movies and as a result, performs better after those long work flights.

Read before bed

Get a good night’s sleep because it’s essential to performing at your best. CEOs and executives in high-power, stressful jobs often have trouble sleeping. Jordan Schau, Co-Founder of Pure Cycles, turns off all electronics one to two hours before bed and reads instead. She says reading a book helps her resist the urge to check emails and messages.

Weekend digital detox

Unplug from digital devices to boost energy and passion and prevent burnout. Gina Bianchini, founder and CEO of Mightybell, unplugs every Saturday and feels it reboots her brain and soul. Disconnecting from iPhones and work computers will increase your productivity, creativity, and perspective. Unplugging is not easy, especially when your response is expected immediately. However, telling your team you plan to disconnect during a certain time will manage their expectations for hearing back from you.

Walk during phone call

Make dreaded work activities more enjoyable. Megan Smyth, CEO and co-founder of FitReserve, walks during phone calls. She says it gets her out the office and clears her head so she’s ready to take on more difficult tasks throughout the day.

Focus on 2-3 things a day

Focus on only a few top tasks a day in order to be more productive. Tim Eisenhauer, president of San Diego software provider Axero Solutions, says he can’t multitask because it creates too much chaos. Being able to devote yourself completely to one task is more productive than trying to do too many things at once. It will leave tasks unfinished with no solutions.


Meditate daily to help you focus, improve relationships, and enhance creativity. Charly Kleissner, co-founder of the 100% IMPACT Network, credits meditation with helping him come up with new ideas and ventures. Yeah, we know it’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché because it works.

Don’t do it all yourself

Partner with consultants with deep expertise in their fields so you can delegate tasks and activities you’re less knowledgeable about and would take you more time to complete effectively. You can’t do it all. Hire consultants to help and support you so you can remain focused on what’s important—your business.

For example, renewing a commercial real estate lease can be complicated and frustrating. It takes you away from your business operations and cuts into your precious free time. Trusted advisors like Verity can help you get more done, more efficiently.

Contact one of Verity Commercial’s trusted real estate advisors to see how we can bring our expertise to your next lease renewal or lease agreement.


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