Entrepreneurs are a special breed. They don't like to take "no" for an answer and, like Captain James T. Kirk, they don't like to lose. They shouldn't be afraid to spill a little of their own blood to achieve great things, maybe even lose a few nights of good sleep or power through a weekend to get things done. But is it possible for an entrepreneur to find balance in their lives? Is it possible to have an even balance between work and life, that almost mystical work-life balance we hear so much about these days?
There's No Such Thing as Balance
What we really found interesting was when Ann said:
It's never a balance. It's never a moment where you actually feel good about everything.
So there may not be balance for a startup founder. After all, entrepreneurs sign up for lack of sleep, lost weekends and fretting about getting things done. And while balance may not always be possible, the trick is to try manage your time the best you can.
One way Ann does this is by keeping a log of her day. She tracks how much time she's spent on a particular task and reevaluates her day so she can get better at accomplishing things faster, like answer her onslaught of emails.
Because for Ann a 60 to 70 hour work week works best. Or as she puts it:
I don't think 100 hour weeks are sustainable.
It also still allows her to carve out time for her kids. She keeps certain times of the morning and evening free so she can spend time with her 3 kids, all of whom are under the age of six. At those time, she goes "off the grid."
Choosing a Minimalist Lifestyle
Rand Fishkin, CEO and founder of SEOmoz, doesn't go off the grid much, which he recently talked about in this excellent blog post. His Android is never far from reach so he can shoot off a quick email or respond to one. Like Ann, it's one of his tactics for managing his time so that he can get more stuff done in the day. He also runs his life through his calendar and email. He also makes sure to get plenty of sleep, at least 7.5 hours or more.
But those things aren't enough. Rand also employes what he calls a "minimalist lifestyle," keeping his obligations solely to SEOmoz and his wife. That means he's on a diet that doesn't consist of other hobbies, habits or even kids. He also has very few extracurricular activities outside of his wife and job.
It's a choice that works for Rand and he's quite happy with it. However, Rand and Ann have both, in their own individual ways, chosen what's important and what isn't. They've decided on the things that they want to focus on and work hard to be great at rather than dividing their attention among a hundred different things.
Decide What's Important and What's Not
Yes, entrepreneurism is hard work. Yes, there will be blood. But it's choosing what blood in your own life that you want spilled. Or as Jeffrey Stibel, chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet, puts it — it's picking and choosing what's important in your life. If work is important and so is your family, then pick those things and drop everything else.
Triage your life. Pick and choose what's important. Work hard to figure out how to do things better and faster. By doing so, entrepreneurs can get through the day when their inboxes get clogged and they are pulled in a hundred different directions.