Work On the Business Instead of In the Business

As a leader, you are so mired down with work that there isn’t any hope of every truly being caught up. You can delegate and defer to your hearts delight, but the demands are unrelenting. It can feel like every time you get one activity that needs your attention under control it’s replaced by two more. Running and gunning comes with the territory.

If you really want to improve your effectiveness as a leader, you have to make time to work “on” the business instead of “in” the business.

Time Away Isn’t Time Away

Time away from work isn’t unproductive time. It’s super-productive time. The time that you spend alone allows you to reflect, to think, to determine priorities, and reset. It’s impossibly difficult to do this heaviest lifting when you are engaged in the day-to-day operational tasks of leading your business unit. The urgencies and the interruptions are too great, your time to short.

But taking time away–even a solid day–with no meetings, no phone, and no email gives you the chance to sit with a legal pad and a pen and hit the reset button. It gives you a chance to question your priorities. You can really delve into where you want to take your business unit, what it will take to get there, and what needs to change in order to succeed. Because you are not working in the business doesn’t mean that you aren’t working … it means you’re doing the most important work a leader is required to do.

And it takes time away. Quiet time. Time to reflect. Time to think deeply. Time to make the hard calls that only the leader can make.

If you feel a little guilty, don’t. Your work will still be waiting for you when you get back. But with a new set of eyes and a fresh perspective, you’ll have a better idea of what the right work is and whether or not what shows up should really command your attention.


Why do you avoid taking time away from work?

How often do you take time away to reflect, to think, to make big decision?

How does quiet time, time alone, allow you to do your best thinking?

Why does a leader need to take away?

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