Last week I was on the west coast speaking with a group of senior leaders who are interested in using the web to grow their businesses. The topic was generating leads through inbound PR and marketing.

As I do, I was showing real-time analytics for Arment Dietrich, Spin Sucks, and some of our clients. I am, after all, a business owner who wants to see how all of our online efforts contribute to the growth of both the traditional PR firm and the online business, Spin Sucks Pro.

About halfway through the three hour workshop, a gentleman raised his hand and said, “How do you do all of this? When do you find the time and run two businesses?”

I jokingly responded that I have a whole team of people who do the work and I’m just the shallow figurehead. But he wasn’t going to have that. He could tell, through my examples, that I’m intimately involved in running these campaigns, both from strategy and measurement perspectives.

So it got me thinking.

I’m double type A. I also have a problem saying no. I work really long hours, yet I have time for cycling, writing a book, seeing movies, spending time with family, and thinking about business growth.

I was “raised” in a global PR firm where, if you didn’t work past 9 p.m. and on weekends, you didn’t get promoted. So I learned very early that was the kind of work ethic that was needed to get ahead.

And then I burned out. About 18 months ago.

A few weeks ago, we talked here about working on your business, not just in it. And that’s part of what I do (I reserve Fridays for this). But I also have stopped working weekends. Sure, I might check email here and there or play a little bit on the social networks or read some blog posts. But I don’t do any business-related work on the weekends. It’s made me more focused and effective during the week than I could have imagined.

While unplugging and focusing on other priorities is a good start, it’s not going to enable you to do everything you need to do.

Following are four things you also should be doing.

  1. Delegate, delegate, delegate. I don’t know if this is more difficult for women than men, but all of my female friends who lead organizations have this issue. We think we have to do it all…and we try to do it all. Say no to administrative tasks. Stop taking meetings that don’t drive business value. Delegate everything you can without breaking your talent. Open your days for thinking and for strategy.
  2. Create thinking time. My best ideas come in the shower and on my bike. It’s because those are the two times in my day I can’t multi-task. On my bike, if I multi-task, I’m dead. So I think. I write blog posts in my head, I solve a client’s recent issue, or I think about a new business prospect that needs some attention. Find uninterrupted time that doesn’t have distractions where you can spend time thinking. Every day.
  3. Develop your vision and repeat it. Over and over and over again. If the vision isn’t moving throughout your organization, revise it so people are on board with it. If someone else can’t articulate what it is, it either needs to be revised or you’re not discussing it often enough. Everything we do is tied to our vision. If we are asked to participate in a new business pitch or write content or do a media interview that doesn’t move our vision forward, we don’t do it. A clear vision makes it much easier to say no.
  4. Reflect and adjust. Failure is the big F word no one wants to discuss in business. But it’s only failure if you allow it to paralyze you. Learn from the mistakes you make. Reflect on what’s working and what’s not working. At least once a week. And adjust your vision, your strategy, or your communication to improve your efforts.

And, of course, always remember what’s really important in life. Unfortunately you won’t be remembered, after you’re gone, for how many hours you worked or the fact that you could do it all.

This first ran on Friday in my weekly Crain’s column.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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