I've never had a business where I felt the uniqueness of my venture could make up for a lack of work ethic.
I have always felt the need to outwork everyone--and I mean everyone. Entrepreneurship has always been a game of effort, and I wanted to prove I was the one worth doing business with--in any industry I've ever operated a company.
As a result, work-life balance has always been a challenge.
Before I got married and had a family, balancing work and life never really crossed my mind. First, I have always loved what I do, so it never felt like work. 90% of the time, I couldn't wait to get the day started and face whatever challenges were in front of me head-on.
But once I got married and had kids, things changed drastically--this is something I talk a good bit about in my book, All In. Not only did I suddenly have to find quality time for them, but I had to also keep an eye on other things like my physical, mental, and emotional health. And in order to make sure I was giving enough to my family, my business, and my health, I had to adapt my day-to-day habits.
Here are four creative ways you can find work-life balance as an entrepreneur:
1. Get up before everyone else.
Before I turned 30, I was a couch potato that just worked all the time.
It wasn't until I started to get overweight that a switch flipped: I felt like I had to make a change, and had to make one quick. I immediately started forcing myself to get up early, not only to be at the office before everyone else, but to make sure I got some exercise time in before the work day began.
Turns out, my morning exercise routine turned out to be a big passion of mine. I started running marathons, and in the last 30 years I've completed almost 100 triathlons.
Trust me, the excuse "I don't have time" isn't real. You have the time. It's just on you to make it happen.
2. Dinner with the family isn't something you cancel.
When I wasn't traveling, I would make sure I was home by 6:30 p.m. to have dinner with my wife and kids--so I could hear about their day and stay connected to their growing lives.
Even if it was just for an hour or two, before I was back at my home desk continuing my business journey, I have made it a point in my career to always be there for dinner. Of course, the challenge is always to be present during the meal and still not thinking about business, but this is part of what being an entrepreneur is all about. You're a leader--both at the office, and at home--and it's on you to show up appropriately.
No matter how busy you feel you need to be, or how demanding your business life gets, just remember that business without family is lonely. Don't consider them "separate." Start, right now, thinking about how you can integrate them into the whole picture, no matter what.
3. Hire, train, and empower other people.
One of the biggest reasons so many founders struggle with work-life balance is because they refuse to give up control.
They fear passing the reigns to someone else, worried the other person won't be able to "do what they do." This is flawed thinking, and here's why: if you can't teach someone else to do what you do, then you aren't running a scalable business. And if you aren't running a scalable business, then you need to come to terms with the fact that however hard you're working right now, is how hard you'll be working for the rest of your life.
Smart entrepreneurs, on the other hand, constantly look for opportunities to hire, train, and empower those around them to be successful on their own.
Because this is how you ultimately reclaim more time for yourself.
4. Master your own personal efficiency.
As an entrepreneur, you're going to be faced with the challenge of juggling a million different items on your to do list.
Some of these items will be business related. Some, family. Some, personal. Every day, you're going to wake up with dozens of people you need to answer, and it's going to be your responsibility to manage your time effectively.
The best way to do this is to utilize technology, and set clear boundaries for yourself. Use your calendar. Block off time for you to meet with employees, and time for you to work in silence. Use alarms and timers to remind you when things are happening--from important events to phone calls. The more you can get yourself in a cadence where you and everyone else knows what you're working on, when, and why, the easier it will be for you to improve your own personal efficiency.