We’ve all heard the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” It also makes Jackie a dull girl—and it’s bad for your business. If you’re working seven days a week, twelve hours a day, you’re doing yourself more harm than good—because someone who never takes time off from work becomes both bored and boring.

No matter what your background, no matter what your family or financial situation, you must have a balance between your personal and professional life. In fact, it’s impossible to produce consistently at high levels without a personal life.

I know, this philosophy seems to go against the American work ethic. So many people these days think it’s normal to work seven days a week, to never take a vacation, to sacrifice family time for financial gain, to push yourself to the breaking point to get ahead. It’s simply not true.

You cannot work 90 hours a week and be a millionaire. Sure, you may be able to pull it off for a short period of time, but pretty soon something will start to fall apart. It may be your marriage or your health; whatever it is, you can be sure it will happen.

And the top producers? They’re the ones who always have family and personal time built into their schedules.

Set the Right Expectations

Unfortunately, many businesspeople actually feel guilty spending time with their family or pursuing personal interests. They feel they ought to be available to their business at all times, including weekends and evenings if need be. Most business cards today sport cell phone number, home number, sometimes even home address! Albeit unintentionally, this sets an expectation of being available 24/7, rain or shine, sickness or health.

And that’s no way to run a business.

Sure, you should be accessible to your people, but you also need to maintain some boundaries in your professional relationships. If you’re new to the business, you may want to work weekends as you get your business established. That’s fine. But in that case, plan some other time off for yourself during the week.

If you’re established in your business and are still working every weekend, maybe you need to look at how efficient you’re being while you’re working. Are you sticking to your established schedule? Once your business is established, there’s no reason for you to be working seven days a week. I know of a real estate agent in Colorado who works only three days a week, sells about 270 homes a year, and earns approximately $4.5 million a year. That’s efficiency!

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to tell people in your business what your days off are. They won’t guess, and they can’t read your mind. If they ask you to meet with them on Sunday afternoon, and you take off Sundays, don’t meet with them anyway and then be mad that they made you work on your day off. They didn’t make you work on your day off—you made yourself work on your day off.

What to Schedule

People often wonder what kind of personal things they should be putting in their schedule. Put in whatever is important to you: your kids’ sports events, dinner with your spouse, time to work on your favorite hobby, commitments to personal groups or clubs you belong to. There are no right or wrong things to schedule. The important thing is that you do it.

Putting these items in your schedule is only step one. Next, you need to have accountability to these personal items. Perhaps your spouse can keep you accountable for your scheduled “date nights.” Maybe your kids will keep you accountable for going to their events. Be sure to tell your family and friends what you’re scheduling in your planner. When they know you have time set aside for them, they’ll help ensure you keep your word. After all, you don’t want to let down your family and friends, do you?

How Much Balance Is Enough?

When you’re starting out in the business, you must have at least one full day to recharge your batteries. This is one full day when you’re completely unplugged from your business. Don’t take any phone calls, return any e-mails, or even think about work. This is a day just for you.

This may sound scary, but relax: your business won’t fall apart without you. Your people won’t abandon you just because you took a day off. Remember, set the expectation up front and no one will mind.

As your business grows, you should take at least two days off per week. They don’t have to be two consecutive days (although that is best), and they don’t have to be weekends. You simply need to take two days. Why? Because as you get established, your efficiency should naturally be increasing. You can accomplish more in less time, so there’s no reason to work more than five days per week. And when you produce at higher levels, your brain and body will require more relaxation time so you can stay at peak performance.

When you push and overwork yourself, you begin to develop a sour attitude. You may secretly start resenting the people who want your attention. Resentment, anger and frustration are not traits of successful businesspeople. A positive attitude, enthusiasm and a love of the business are the traits that propel people to the top. And you can’t possess those traits consistently if you’re not allowing yourself time to rest.

A Little “R and R” Goes a Long Way

The bottom line is that you must have a balance between your work and personal life. Without it, your career, your health, and even your family life will suffer—and no career is worth that price.

JERRY PUJALS is a Realtor®, real estate
trainer and acclaimed speaker.