I am delighted to have Kevin Kruse to be a guest on my blog post. Kevin has huge experience and insight when it comes to leadership and management.

I am sure you will enjoy this guest post which was written by Kevin Kruse,  an entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author. His latest book is 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management.

Why do so many leaders work around the clock, feeling the weight of the never-ending to-do list, while others seem to always get home for dinner—stress free—with their family at a reasonable time?

Back when I was young and dumb, I worked over 100 hours each week as I fought desperately to lead my fast growing startup. I skipped breakfast and sometimes even lunch to get a few more things crossed off the to-do list. I slept fewer and fewer hours with the misguided notion of increasing productivity. And worst, I traded precious hours with the family with crossing off a few more things each week on the to-do list.

It was only after painful failures in both business and my marriage that I was forced to discover three keys to approaching work and life, which oddly increased my results in both domains.

Key #1: Truly Understand There Will Always Be More To Do

My life literally changed in an instant when I read Andy Grove’s book, High Output Management. The founder and former CEO of Intel described his average day, which included leaving at a reasonable time every single day. At the time, Grove was leading a giant, fast-growing tech company. There had to be endless fires to put out: decisions about new billion-dollar chip factories, product dumping emergencies from Japanese competitors, partnership meetings with counterparts at Microsoft, Dell and other tech behemoths.

But he always made it home for dinner. Grove revealed his ultimate secret:

My day ends when I’m tired and ready to go home, not when I’m done. I am never done. Like a housewife’s, a manager’s work is never done. There is always more to be done, more that should be done, always more than can be done.”

And that is the key.

There will always be more to do, and always more than can be done.

For too long, I let my to-do list master me. “Sorry, I can’t make it home for dinner because I still have that report to do.” And if I ignored the siren call of the to-do list, I felt stress and guilt choking me as I ate dinner at home.

The hard truth is that there will always be more to do, so it’s up to you to decide – regardless of the to-do list or the fire to put out – how much time you’re willing to invest at work each day.

Key #2: You Can’t Please Everyone

Jessica Turner, the author of, The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You, surveyed more than 2,000 women for her book and, among other things, asked them to describe the hardest part of being a woman.

The common theme: Being everything to everyone. She describes how these multiple roles can become unhealthy.

For women, this ‘disease to please’ can wreak havoc on every area of our lives. We are nurturers by nature. We want to help and love on others. But sometimes our actions are not an outpouring of love but a result of wanting to please someone else.”

It’s dangerous to base our self-worth on what others think of us. It is one thing to be collaborative at work and a helpful friend and family member at home. But it’s another to feel like you have to be perfect.

We must know when it’s time to say “no” to colleagues and friends alike. We must know that to help others, we must first help ourselves, and that begins with putting limits on the amount of time we give away.

Key #3: Be Clear On All Your Values

They say you can tell what a person truly values by looking at two things: their checkbook and their calendar.

Most people would claim they value their family and friends. Most people would say their goal is to be a great parent. Most people would say their health is important to them.

But our actions reveal the truth.

How often do we say we don’t have time for exercise? How often do we skip time with our kids to work on that important proposal?

The secret is to be crystal clear as to what you truly value, and then schedule your time appropriately. For example, if attending your kids’ sporting events is important to you, to what degree?

  • Do you plan on attending all of their games and practices?
  • Do you plan on attending at least half of their games?
  • Do you plan on attending any games that are on the weekends?

There is no right answer. The key is to know what the right answer is for you, and then let that be your guide.

Eventually, as I discovered these three keys I was able to grow my company from a million dollars a year in revenue to a million dollars a month, while at the same time reducing my total work time from 100 hours to less than 40.

Is it time for you rebalance the priorities in your life? Is it time to leave the office to make it home for dinner?

Kevin Kruse is a New York Times bestselling author of seven books. His newest is 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management.

Thank you Kevin for such a great Guest Post,

Tony Lynch.