Most CEOs believe in promoting work-life balance, so long as it errs on the side of more productivity. However, the man behind one of the biggest companies in history has some counterintuitive advice for his employees.
Amazon's Jeff Bezos has caught criticism from many over the years. Most recently, he's been in the spotlight for low employee wages, even drawing the attention--and ire--of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). However, you may be surprised to learn that Bezos actually adopts a much more tranquil attitude towards work-life balance.
His advice, which he shared at an awards event in April, is perfect for entrepreneurs. "Work-life is a circle, not a balance," Bezos said.
Work and life have a reciprocal relationship. Each enhances the other. They're not mutually exclusive.
If you're constantly striving to hustle and push yourself to your limits, you should take Bezos' advice to heart. Rather than striving to equally split your personal and professional lives, you need to integrate your work into your personal life and vice versa.
Basically, seek harmony, not balance.
Aim to wake up stress-free.
Bezos doesn't even set an alarm before going to bed.
It may come as a bit of a shock that the man who has employees' bathroom breaks timed doesn't care about his wake-up time. He says it allows him to wake up stress-free in the morning to enjoy breakfast with his family.
While this luxury may only be afforded to billionaires, it's still an important concept for anyone like you and me. Turning off your cell phone or laptop off at a certain time on weeknights can allow you to sink into your favorite Netflix show with your family, or recline with a great self-help book. Having a more fluid relationship to work-life balance can allow you to feel re-energized and focused.
I like many others, still use an alarm--but once I set the rule to not check my email as soon as I wake up, it was a life changer for me. Every email is stress. So, not checking my email for the first two hours of every day has made my mornings shockingly stress-free.
Delegate everything that you hate doing or consider time-wasting.
You get into entrepreneurship to run a business, not to have it run you. I know that feeling from experience--it's sort of like a treadmill turned up too fast.
If the man controlling Amazon can take a leisurely morning off, so can you. I've worked hard to delegate as much as possible so I only focus my time where it is most needed. It doesn't mean my phone shuts off at 9 p.m. It means I answer messages as quickly as I can to make decisions instead of doing the work myself.
I particularly like Bezos' circle analogy because the more time I spend with my wife and family, the more that quality time inspires me to produce my best work. I find that working on my phone on the couch can be a good compromise. Some days, I go into the office early and head out before rush hour so I can get home to help my family make a nice dinner.
If you don't take time off, you will burn out. Delegating helps me achieve harmony.
You can't look for a strict trade-off because a perfect balance rarely exists. It has taken me years to find my own blend, and it's still something I'm working on.
So, set a few mini-milestones. Take a few long weekends off every quarter. You'll feel refreshed and ready to work when you get back.