How do you recharge? I worry about you. I hang out with a lot of agency owners and I know that one of the biggest risks to your agency is owner burnout. It’s that wearing fatigue that comes with 60+ hour weeks, sweating payroll, never really unplugging and everyone heading to your office when the s*#% hits the fan.

We’re coming off a long holiday weekend. Did you focus on recharging your battery, investing in your family and friends, and most important — doing something that makes you feel like a priority?  And before this week — when was the last time you did that.

I’m all for using the holidays as a respite but it’s not enough.  You need to be taking better care of yourself every week, not just when a long holiday weekend presents itself.

Agency owner and leader burn out is one of the biggest threats to the health of your agency. You have to understand your role in the agency.  You are the epicenter. Your energy, your focus and your contributions are what set the course. When you let yourself get too weary, too burdened or too overwhelmed — everyone feels it.  they may not be able to articulate what they sense, but it absolutely changes the dynamics in your shop.

This is a conversation I have with most of our remote coaching clients  — I believe your #1 obligation as an agency leader is to make sure you stay replenished, refreshed and that your head/heart is in a very good place.

That does not happen by accident. Is protecting your state of mind a conscious part of your week?  DO you even know what refills you?

I know I’m not your coach but I’d love for you to take this advice and work with me on this one issue.  Here’s your homework for this coaching session.   Block 3 hours a week for you.  Once a month, block a half day doing something that lets you truly unwind and relax.  Once a quarter, take an entire work day off to reflect and relax and finally — once a year, get away for a couple days of pure play.

None of these things will happen if you don’t commit to them, which means putting them on your calendar and paying for them in advance. We all know what happens to an open hour on your calendar.

Here are some suggestions:

Weekly: (3 measly hours)

  • Take 15 minutes to write in a gratitude journal every day. You’ll be stunned at how powerful this is
  • Take an exercise class
  • Sign up for yoga lessons
  • Schedule 3 long walks with a friend
  • Join a book club that forces you to read every week
  • Schedule a play date with your child (of any age)
  • Plan a lunch with a close (non work related) friend or your spouse
  • Block time for meditation, a daily spiritual reading or whatever aligns with your beliefs
  • Schedule calls or Facetime chats with friends who live far away
  • Plant and tend to a garden
  • Write a thank you note to someone in your life who matters (I’ve done this for years and it is amazing)

Monthly: (just a half day)

  • Join a mastermind group and invest in the members’ success
  • Sign up for a local class in something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do (guitar, horseback riding, painting etc.)
  • Volunteer for a charity that is meaningful to you
  • Visit a nursing home and visit with residents
  • Visit at an risk school and read to the students
  • Do a spa day
  • Catch a ball game or play a round of golf
  • Surround yourself in nature’s beauty on a long hike, fishing or on the water

Quarterly: (Seriously — just one day)

  • Plan a fun day trip with someone you enjoy
  • Add an extra day to a business trip to explore a new city
  • You know that tourist attraction in your state that you’ve never seen — go see it
  • Challenge your movie loving buddy to see how many movies you can see in a day (my daughter and I did it — our record is 5)
  • Do a Habitat for Humanity build or something else that serves your community
  • Spend an entire day reading for pure pleasure (add a fireplace, some wine and a wintery scene and this is postcard worthy!)
  • Go see your parents (trust me — it’s good for the heart)
  • Plan an entire day from sleeping in to wine with friends that is packed with all the things you love to do but never have time for
  • Perfect an old family recipe and serve dinner for your family
  • Have a day in the sun — on the beach, golf course, hiking, biking or whatever fuels you

Annually (seriously — 2 days away from the office.  You can and should do this)

  • Feed your brain — attend a workshop that inspires you
  • Go on a CEO retreat
  • Truly unplug — camping, white water rafting, fly fishing or a yoga or spa getaway.  Whatever you can completely immerse yourself in and just let go
  • Go to your happy place (mine is Disney World but you could try something different!) and indulge
  • Pick a place you’ve never been to and go explore — if you love theatre, head to NYC.  If you love the mountains, head to Wyoming. The ocean — someplace where you can walk for miles.  Something magical happens to our brains when we are somewhere new.
  • Surprise your family with a getaway they know nothing about (there’s power in the planning as well as the actual trip)

Okay — those are some of my suggestions.  What would you add to the list?

I hope it goes without saying that you should truly invest in these efforts.  No cell phones, no email.  Just give yourself a break. A real break.  You will come back to the office fresh, energized and better than ever.

This is an investment in your business and in yourself.  Don’t be too short-sighted to see that you need to take good care of yourself — you’re the agency’s secret weapon. Take proper care of it.