“It’s not my fault,” is a line spoken by most people in prison – and most execs who work too much.

Far too many executives feel trapped by circumstance, as though they are somehow a slave to, or victim of, the demands of their job – or it’s anointed savior/hero and, without them, the place would crumble into dust. This leads them to complain that they “have no free time”, yet, no free time, just like micromanaging, is a choice.

Do you work too much?

Of course, the phrase “too much” is completely subjective and will be different for virtually everyone. In this context, if you lack the time to spend with family and friends, or to play a round of golf or go skiing, or even to relax with a good book, then yes, you may be working too hard. After all, business is addictive, and running a business even more so; these are two great escapes and highs. But, if you “don’t have a life” beyond your work, odds are you’re suffocating the business by being too far into the details, you’re attracting underperformers, and you’re going to burn out at some point; then where will that leave all those people who depend on you?

If you lack free time for yourself, chances are you either don’t have the right team – you are not playing to your strengths – you have not committed to having more free time – you over identify with your work. To avoid business performance issues and burn-out, and to create some more free time for yourself, consider taking action – and RID yourself of some responsibility:

  • Relegate – It takes tolerance and discipline to not be the “the man” all the time. Relegate yourself to a less important role, from time to time. Face it, you’re expendable, or at least should create a system that makes you so. Others on your team need the training and experience to step up when the day comes that you are gone. If you don’t offer them the opportunity to prove their worth, you’re not doing your job as their leader. Allowing them to take the reins occasionally will enable you to take some time for yourself, recharging your batteries even as they develop their leadership skills.
  • Instigate – Inspiring team members to seek leadership roles will keep them engaged and productive. Create norms that encourage your team members to grow and challenge each other. Recognize people for their effort and results, and make sure everyone has a current development plan that stretches them. As your team members get hungry for more responsibility you will be relieved of your responsibility of micro-managing their work, and provide yourself with more free time.
  • Delegate – Learning to share responsibility can be difficult, especially if you are a perfectionist, control freak, or lack the skills or experience of empowerment. However, if you’ve put good people in place, they can handle the demands of the job without your constant input. If those people don’t exist on your team, that’s your fault and you need to remedy the oversight immediately.

Stop using the excuses of a convict. The choice to work less and play more will lead to far greater balance in your life, which is a good thing. Another huge plus is that it will make your team more effective and engaged, reinforcing your worth as an effective team leader.