Balancing Act: How to work and have a life as an entrepreneur – Part I

Much is made of the all-important “work/life” balance and how prioritizing things like our health, vacation and family time is key for a long and satisfying life. However, when you are an entrepreneur, that balance is precarious and the scales, more often than not, are permanently slanted towards “work”. What’s a person with a startup to do?  Don’t panic. There are many ways to reclaim life balance – if you are willing to think outside the box; and as an entrepreneur, you are already used to thinking that way.

Reframe your idea of a workday

As Inc. cheekily suggests in an online article, “no one became an entrepreneur because they wanted to work less.” Most entrepreneurs work upwards of 60 hours a week.  That puts you in the same time bracket as many doctors, but at a fraction of the pay.  The first thing you must do is to let go of what makes up a “workday”. That good old nine to five does not apply to you.  When you have the freedom to set your own work hours (which often feels like all the hours), you have the freedom to select the hours that work best for you.  A morning person? Get going at 5 am. A night owl? Take care of the mundane chores in the early afternoon and use your most productive hours for work.  Give yourself a night shift and sleep in the morning.  Have a family? Try a split shift.  A couple hours in the morning, then get the kids off to school.  Do a few hours of focused work while they are away followed by the homework/dinner cycle.  That leaves you with an hour or two after they go to bed.  Let go of thinking all your work needs to be done in one long block. Figure out your most productive work hours and schedule your life and work around them.

Your health is important

You can’t be a success if you are too worn out to work properly. If you don’t eat healthy foods and fit in physical activity, you are setting yourself up for failure. The body needs its fuel in the form of vitamins, minerals, produce, carbs, proteins, etc.  Without the proper fuel, you can’t work at your full potential. Likewise, if you are not getting any physical activity, you are cheating yourself out of your best life and dulling your competitive work edge.  I hear you asking, “How do I fit in time to eat well and exercise when I’m working 60+ hours a week and raising a family?” The answer is, get creative.

Apply the same discipline to your food and fitness as you do to your business.  Bagged salads, pre-cooked chickens and whole wheat pasta are quick and easy ways to avoid the take out and fast food route.  You’ll get more done, not less if you take a couple 20 minute outdoor strolls each day. You need that time away from your computer anyways.  Take the dog for a walk, the kid to the park (and there is no reason why you can’t play on the park equipment as well) or check out the adult classes at your kid’s after-school sports activity.  If there are no classes, organize a parent’s walking group for the moms and dads waiting for Jr. to get off soccer practice or dash to yoga while your child is doing her hour of gymnastics.

More tips

Stay tuned for part II of this mini series as we explore more ways entrepreneurs balance the demands of work with the demands of life.

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