We all know the kind of sacrifice it takes to start and lead a company. From long hours and late nights to early mornings and missed meals, your company is your everything.
That principle, though, runs up against what we know to be true about something else: the value of adequate work-life balance. Making sure that you spend a healthy amount of time not working has been shown time and again to lead to higher levels of productivity, engagement, and satisfaction.
Do Weekends Exist for Entrepreneurs?
This contrast was at the heart of a conversation started by consultant Dorie Clark on Quora, who asked, whether for entrepreneurs, weekends exist? Serial entrepreneur Michael Wolfe answers with a resounding yes. His belief: Balance is not just possible, but necessary.
"Rules like 'weekends don't exist' are ridiculous unless you plan to die a fat, lonely, loser or unless you want your first company to be your last," he writes.
Wolfe doesn't deny that entrepreneurism requires a lot of work. But he goes on to detail how he manages his own personal balance, approaching the question in chunks.
Wolfe says that each day, he chooses a few things that he needs to get done during the day and focuses on them, putting all other tasks onto a to-do list to be accessed later.
He gets some exercise by walking, running, or biking to work, and he makes time to eat dinner with his family, though he sometimes has to do a business or networking meal. He might get some additional work done after dinner, he says, but doesn't take on anything too big because it will cause insomnia.
Wolfe admits to getting a little bit of work done over the weekend. But most of Saturday and Sunday are spent with family and friends--including a date night on Saturdays with his wife. The family also has one night out each week, and also meet on Sunday nights to discuss plans for the forthcoming week.
Wolfe is able to make some room for vacation, with time off during the holidays and schedules weekend ski trips in the winter. He also travels with his family in the summer, but says he works a lot during that trip.
This is where things get real interesting: Wolfe writes that he makes sure to take a sabbatical every few years. While this is more easily accomplished for a serial entrepreneur who might find himself between projects and flush with money after executing on an exit, the principle behind taking extended time off is still a strong one:
"Work hard followed by long break is a much better pattern than the year in/year out slog of one frantic summer vacation per year until you retire or die," he writes.
The idea here isn't to replicate Wolfe's schedule, but instead to recognize that by approaching your work-life balance from several different angles you should be able to find the pockets where you can take some needed time away from your company.