Is CEO Work-Life Balance Possible?

Obtaining the title of CEO is an incredible achievement in any person’s career. However, it can often come with additional stress and decreased time for personal activities. Finding the right work-life balance as a CEO is something many people search for.

Do CEOs have a work-life balance, or is CEO work-life balance a myth? We are here to reassure you that a work-life balance for executives is wholly possible. Below, we’ll explain how you can manage your work and personal life as a C-suite executive.

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What Is Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance is an essential part of a healthy work environment. Having an adequate balance between work and your personal life can help reduce stress and the possibility of burnout. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and work-life balance can mean something different for everyone. The approaches to achieving work-life balance and the wealth of knowledge about it are always changing.

That is why flexibility is key. Having a more flexible work environment is one of the best ways to meet your work-life balance needs. Contrary to what many people may think, work-life balance is about more than the hours spent working.

Common Misconceptions About Work-Life Balance

Many misconceptions about work-life balance only add more unnecessary pressure. By believing these myths, you could take longer to reach your work-life balance goals and experience even more stress. Here are five of the most common misconceptions about work-life balance:

1. Compartmentalizing Your Life Is Necessary

Many believe that to have a healthy work-life balance, they need to split their time equally between work and home every day. However, this is not always possible for everyone. Unexpected things arise both at work and at home. As a result, you might need to spend more hours than usual at work or stay home that day, depending on the situation. Your focus should be on spending the required amount of time on whatever your current priority is.

2. Achieving Balance Should Be Your Ultimate Goal

Balance doesn’t always exist — there will be times when your work life affects your personal life and vice versa. Sometimes you may not completely switch off from work at the end of the day, especially as a CEO. You might continue thinking about that important proposal even after you’ve left the office.

Instead, a more achievable goal should be integration. Rather than trying to keep these parts separate, consider viewing them as interconnected components. When you’re happy in your personal life, you’re more likely to be energized and focused at work. And if you feel fulfilled at work, you’re more likely to be content in your personal life.

3. Starting Your Day Earlier Results in More Productivity

Does the early bird always catch the worm? There is a misconception that the earlier you get up in the morning, the more work you complete. This can be true for some people if they are naturally more productive in the morning. However, it can also mean you add more hours to your day — which may be necessary at certain times. But, it’s not healthy if this becomes the norm every single day.

Over time, rising at very early hours could lead to more stress, lost sleep and eventual burnout. Additionally, some people are more productive at night, and forcing yourself to get up earlier might not always be the answer. The aim should be to work according to your productivity peaks, whenever those times are.

4. Having It All Is Easily Achievable

This point is probably one of the biggest misconceptions about work-life balance. Even with the best possible time management and schedule, you will often still have to allot less time for something in your life. As a CEO, there will be occasions when you sacrifice time with family or friends for work commitments. Accepting this early on can prevent you from creating unrealistic expectations for yourself, and you will feel less discouraged if your time management plan doesn’t always flow as expected.

5. Scheduling Everything Makes Things Easier

Yes, scheduling the most important appointments, events and tasks are helpful. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to schedule every second of every day. This practice is often unrealistic and can end up causing more stress. Allow yourself some freedom and flexibility to enjoy spontaneous leisure activities or last-minute coffee dates with friends.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking you need to schedule every second of every day. This practice is often unrealistic and can cause more stress.

Why Is Work-Life Balance Difficult for CEOs?

When you work as a CEO, there is often the assumption that you must know everything about running a business. This assumption can come from others, but more often than not, it’s a thought we have about ourselves and our own roles. This self-imposed expectation makes it difficult for some CEOs to have a healthy work-life balance.

It’s become normal for many CEOs or executives to work for around 10 hours a day, which also includes holidays and weekends. This leaves little to no time for a well-developed personal life. Over weekends, you may feel the need to fit in all your other personal responsibilities or duties, which prevents you from truly relaxing. This phenomenon leads to a vicious cycle of stress. Even though dealing with uncertainty is often part of the role, it should never cost you your health or sanity.

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How to Manage Your Work and Personal Life as a CEO

Finding a healthy balance between your work and personal life is incredibly important to your well-being. Here are five helpful tips for achieving a good work-life balance:

1. Create Your Own Definition of Work-Life Balance

People often have a very specific idea of what a healthy work-life balance should look like, which would typically include the notion of an equal split of time between your work and personal life. That concept might look like eight hours spent at work, eight hours spent at home or on your own hobbies and eight hours spent sleeping.

But every person’s priorities are different, meaning this may not be your goal. Instead of adopting a preconceived idea of work-life balance, it’s crucial for CEOs to define it for themselves.

2. Prioritize Time for Yourself

As much as you are aware that new tasks or issues will continue popping up, you shouldn’t allow these to consume your life. At times, these tasks might require more of your time than usual. But as a CEO, you also need to practice refusing to compromise prior personal tasks. Learning how to say “no” in these instances and honoring your commitment to yourself is vital for a healthy work-life balance.

3. Learn Soft Skills

Spend time learning soft skills such as effective planning and organizing. These abilities can make having a healthy work-life balance much easier. When you can plan and organize your responsibilities properly, you can prioritize the most important things that require your focus. A skill like public speaking, for example, allows you to better communicate and connect with your team and set expectations for time management.

4. Establish a Network

Having other CEOs to lean on for support when things might seem uncertain or stressful is invaluable. Talking with peers can be useful for troubleshooting issues and discovering new solutions. Additionally, you can reap many benefits from networking and collaborating with a similar group of people.

5. Participate in Activities That Improve Your Performance

Exercising as a leisure activity reduces your stress levels and provides mental and physical benefits for the workplace. It can increase your energy levels, make you more alert and focused and improve general cognitive functions. Additionally, performing more creative activities can improve your ability for problem-solving.

Let Dame Leadership Help You Lead More Effectively

Learning how to improve your time management can be easy with the right partner. At Dame Leadership, we offer executive coaching and support for CEOs. We can help you grow as a leader and improve your work-life balance through virtual or in-person coaching with a tailored approach.

Regardless of your specific stage of personal and professional development, Dame Leadership offers expert services to support you in becoming the best version of yourself. Contact us today to find out more about our coaching services for CEOs and executives.

Let Dame Leadership help you lead more effectively