This is the 4th post in our Fully Carsonified series where we give you a behind-the-scenes look at how we run our Team. This post focuses on how to live a balanced, happy life.
We work to live, right? What is meant by that is that we work to make money so that we can live some more. True for most people. But what about when you love your work so much that you start to move over into the ‘live to work’ category. What if you get so excited and fired up by a new project that you can’t stop thinking about it at the weekend and the only thing to be done about is to, well…work some more. What if that happens?
We put our time into little boxes. Monday to Friday are work days. Roughly, 9am until 6ish is work time. Saturday is definitely not a work day and Sundays? Well… !
The problem comes when your work is not really work to you, it’s more like a hobby. It’s the thing (in some cases the only thing) that you’re interested in. This can happen a lot when the thing you’re interested in is the Web. Talk about choosing a big topic, that frankly could take a lifetime to master!
But it’s not just the Web is it? It’s the Web industry – the act of making the Web work. Infact, it’s not just that either. It’s the way that people (usually companies) exist, make money, market and have fun on the Web. Okay, that’s still a big topic, but a more manageable one at least.
When you’re passionate about the Web industry having a work/life balance can be tough. The Web is ‘made’ to be convenient to access, it’s ‘made’ to tempt you at the weekends. It sits in your pocket and pings you to remind you to play with it. It would try the patience of a saint.
Is it wrong to work all the time if you’re truly passionate about it? Short answer: no. Long answer: you should probably think about your eyes (and your relationships, and your family, and your sanity etc etc).
Joking apart. We think it’s totally okay to be obsessed with work, so much so that you can’t put it down at the weekends. If, and you knew there’d be an if, all of the following are true:
- You work for yourself (honestly, employers don’t expect you to be as passionate as they are about your work)
- You don’t have kids
- You don’t have a partner/girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband
If all of the above are true then GO FOR IT! Honestly, get up at 4:30am work until your fingers hurt. Then get up the next day and do it all again. If you’ve got the passion and drive and it makes you happy then do it. Gary Vanynerchuk calls it Hustle 2.0. Hustle, hustle and then hustle some more. Just make sure to eat, and drink plenty of fluids and be aware that some of your friends may fall by the wayside. The bottom line is, it’s your choice.
Don’t, however, be under the illusion that the more you work the more likely you are to succeed. It’s true that working hard will get you to places you wouldn’t be if you hadn’t worked hard but there will always be someone who had a smart idea, puts in a little work and succeeds as much as you do. That’s just life.
Don’t work hard just to make more money. You need to be working hard because it’s what makes you tick. And because your work is your hobby and because it makes you happy. Not because you hope it will make you a millionaire. That’s a ‘nice to have’.
But what if…
But what if one of the above is true. Say, you have a girlfriend or boyfriend. Well, that’s very nice. And assuming you want carry on in said relationship then it’s time to start thinking about others. We don’t want to make this chapter into a counseling session. You know the drill when it comes to compromise and relationships. All we’ll say is we’ve been there and done it.
Ryan was a selfish developer living off burgers and Dolly Mix, coding by day and running BD4D by night. And Gill was a ruthless magazine editor, cracking the whip by day and drinking lager by night. Both young and without ties.
When they met things changed a little. Now, weekends were spent driving to London or sitting on a train to Bath. Eating out at restaurants and pretending to like art.
Normally, it’s quite easy to accept the change because you want to spend time with someone outside of work.
Some of us go on to have children. This is when the fun really begins. Boy – oh boy! You thought your relationship was eating into work time. Your kids will demolish it. Just remember one thing: It’s impossible to be a good Dad or Mom and work 24/7.
How to Balance Life & Work
Those of you who have three or more kids probably have more experience this department than we do but here’s a few things that we do that seem to work …
- Leave work on time – I know it’s easy to work five or ten minutes over. But try not to. Being home at the same time every evening means that you can plan family life accordingly. Kids thrive routine.
- Think about introducing a 4-day work week – If you haven’t done it before-hand now is the perfect time to expand your weekend.
- Have a ‘to do list’ at home to jot down ideas – When you have ideas simply add them to the list and action them on Monday morning.
- Introduce an Adventure Day – Choose one day on the weekend and designate it ‘Adventure Day’. On this day no-one does any chores, cleaning or working. The only thing you can do on this day is hang out together and do something as a family. Whether it be going for a picnic, inviting some friends around or going to the farmers’ market.
- Get up early – If you have to work try not to let it eat in to family time. Get up early and do your work before the rest of the family get up.
- Have a second line installed or have a ‘work’ phone – it’s too easy to check your mail on your phone
- Close the office door at night & weekends – temptation lurks within
- Get into a new hobby which includes the kids – For example geocaching is great fun, uses technology (and the internet) and gets you out scamping around the countryside.
- Don’t take your laptop (or phone) on holiday – Have at least one session of complete ‘downtime’ per year.
Are You a Mouse on a Wheel?
So you’ve decided to be a Web entrepreneur. And you’re going to hustle your way to success, at least until someone wants to ‘spend time with you’. Great! One problem. What are you working to achieve?
If you don’t know the answer to this question then you need to find one before you do one more scrap of work. Why work so hard if you don’t know what your goal is? More importantly, how do you know you’re going in the right direction if you don’t know what your goal is?
Your goal can be a financial one; ‘make a million in revenue’. Or it can be a stability thing; ‘pay off my mortgage’. Or it could be to send your kids to a good school, buy a boat, sell your company or build up a 20-person company. It could be whatever is important to you and is worth working towards. It doesn’t really matter what your goal is but it does matter that you have one.
Why? Because how will you know when you’ve reached your goal if you don’t know what it is? You could end up being a mouse on a wheel for the rest of your life; working hard, enjoying it but never knowing when you’ve achieved what you set out to do.
How sweet is it to be able to say, ‘I achieved my goal’.
[Thanks to paraflyer for the great photo of the balancing elephant.]