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I was working with a change leader who was nearing exhaustion because his work was demanding so much. I told him he needed to get some rest. He told me he didn’t have time. He’ll get his job done. But, it might cost him his life.

He could pay the ultimate price, but I wasn’t referring to that. If he gives up his most important needs – health, spirituality, family, friends – he may find his life isn’t worth living. If you’re a workaholic, think of time off as the unique component that makes your effort sustainable.

Change leaders require a customized approach to self-care. In contrast to those carrying out pre-defined work, they put their efforts into shifting the status quo, arousing and inspiring, marshalling collective intelligence and facilitating a coordinated response from disparate parties, all the while staying in touch with changing circumstances and shifting tactics to maintain strategy and achieve results. This requires a very effective form of self-care.

The biggest obstacle I hear: Time. Here are three techniques for making time. Get serious about them. They are your lifeline to sustained performance.

Three Techniques for Making Time:

1. Devote yourself to the question: How can I be more effective with less effort? You will be amazed at the miracles this question can generate.

For example, when we were developing communities for the World Bank’s Knowledge Management (KM) initiative, we realized that we needed a person to support each community. We had no resources.  We found an intern program at George Washington University that supplied a graduate student in the KM field for $500 per semester. So, we convinced each community  to fund an intern and in short order had interns for almost every one of our 100+ groups. Then, we needed someone to manage the interns, so bought an intern to do that. We reaped extraordinary returns with relatively little effort.

2. Become expert at customizing your experience to suit your needs. 

For example, if you work out every morning, move next to a gym, learn which hotels have the facilities you need, develop routines that do not require equipment, manage the time required for your exercise, build a home gym. 

3. Trim the fat from your life.  

We all waste time.  Time is the one resource no one can give you more of. Identify the behaviors and routines with which you waste your time and cut them without mercy.  Best technique: learn to listen to your gut feeling. If your intuition is saying you don’t need to do something, find a way to jettison it, fast.

Four Percent for Performance

If you put these three techniques to use today, you will easily save 4%, over 30 minutes, each and every day. That’s just 1/25 of your waking hours. Make that a habit and you’ll save over 180 hours this year – an extra month. What could you do with an extra month? Find time to hang out with your family, say a prayer, go for a walk in the woods? That, and more.

- Seth Kahan,