From my newsletter of December 2000

I’ve spent the last four days bedridden, recovering from oral surgery, unable to eat, and barely able to think. It’s been wonderful. It really underscores the value of time away from work. And life balance is possible without major surgery. You just have to know how…

Most importantly, you must decide that having a life is a priority. Many claim they value balance—they just have to work late this once… Make the decision and commit to it. Don’t wait for a brush with death to decide. My friend John needed a mid-30s heart attack to slow him down. For me, it was caring for a dying parent. Be good to yourself. Decide on your own to have a life!

Time is precious; no amount of money can buy back time. Set firm boundaries on the time you spend at work and home. Within those boundaries, only take on as much as you can do in that time. If you decide you will work eight hours each day, turn down work that will require a ten hours a day.

Use the 80/20 rule: you get 80% of your results from 20% of your time. Track how you spend your time, identify the tasks that produce the most results, and orient your work around those high-leverage activities. Use the extra productivity to pay someone else to do the low leverage activities.

Respect your boundaries. When you’re playing, really play. When you’re at work, really work. Your unconscious mind will know if you’re cheating—if you truly honor your commitment to yourself, you’ll be surprised how much more you’ll get done in both places.

If you find yourself having business thoughts during free time, buy an 89-cent notepad & pen and carry it with you. Jot down those thoughts when they happen, and go back to playing. When you get to work, start by reviewing your notepad for critical ideas.

Read a (fun!) book, go on a trip with your family, or see a movie for pleasure at least once a month.

Assignment: identify one high-leverage activity you do that produces lots of results. Identify one low-leverage activity that takes time but doesn’t do much for you. Arrange to have the low-leverage activity taken care of some other way, and use the time you save to do more of the high leverage activity.

Get a Life While You Still Have the Chance (it…

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