Mal was in his office struggling to focus. His wife Sylvia’s emotional plea was still ringing in his ears. He knew she was hurting, but he didn’t know what to do. He was absolutely stretched to his limits, facing pressures from every side. Clients, board, staff – all had issues with him. He knew his performance had been below par for the past three months. Sylvia didn’t seem to understand, and after their most recent altercation, he was afraid he was losing her.

Mal is typical of many busy CEOs and business owners. The demands of business and home life are relentless. Get behind the game at work, even a little, and it requires a huge effort to catch up. Getting ahead seems impossible. Outside work, the demands from his wife, children and wider family start to feel like an obligation rather than a joyful commitment. Taking time out to unwind is rare and usually makes him feel guilty rather than refreshed.

Take a ‘whole of life’ approach

There are times in your life when working harder and longer days and weekends is no longer the solution. At these times, work–life balance seems impossible. Everything feels scattered.

Even high achievers have times in their lives when everything feels overwhelming. Capacity becomes limited. You can feel like you are losing control. It is a sign that you are emotionally overloaded and need to regroup.

Working on this is serious. Burnout is real. And high achievers are often most in danger because they are used to working things out themselves. They do not always ask for help. It feels like an admission of failure.

To increase your capacity at work requires a different approach; a ‘whole of life’ approach. The best solution involves briefly hitting pause to review and work on your life. It is time to make some decisions and set some boundaries with the aim to integrate your busy work role with all that is important and precious in the rest of your life.

When my clients learn and implement an integrated approach they start to take back control. Once they become consistent over a few months, they know the important things are being looked after and so anxiety and stress levels are reduced. The result is more energy and greater clarity of mind.

5 steps to increase your capacity at work

  1. Map your world: identify the roles and responsibilities that are important across your life.
  2. Set boundaries around all that is important in your world: make sure you know what is precious in your world, things for which you are willing to take responsibility.
  3. Say ‘no’ to everything else: this can be hard, FOMO is real, but it is the way to build your life.
  4. Set goals for eight key areas of your life: work, wealth creation, family and friends, partner, personal growth, health and fitness, rest and recreation, and house and yard. You move towards what you focus on.
  5. Monitor your progress: you need accountability to a plan and to a person to make this work consistently.

Learn to consistently focus on otherwise neglected areas of your personal life and you will increase your capacity at work. Your sense of fulfilment in life will grow too.