The last couple weeks, I’ve found myself less busy at work. That’s not to say that there isn’t anything to do at work. There’s always a sale to be made, of course. However, I admit that my afternoons have been less busy given my mornings have been highly focused. Perhaps this is why a LinkedIn article by author Benjamin Hardy resonated so well with me – “This Morning Route will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week”.
Hardy argues that peak performance occurs when people work 3-5 hours per day – far from the dogmatic 8 hours. He continues by sharing how the first 3 hours of the day are the most productive for folks according to  psychologist Ron Friedman in the Harvard Business Review.
Not saying that I’ve somehow stumbled on this currently, or that I’ve found myself hitting Hardy’s magic 3-5 hours per day. After all, I also work out most days within my first 3 hours of waking up.
Instead, I’ve realized there are certainly days where I am hugely productive and creative for 8-10 hours. But after several weeks of this, I am fatigued and need long periods to recover. These days, I believe I’ve hit a great stride of less hours of work but being highly focused. [This morning I created some great sales collateral in –yep—3 hours.]
The other key elements I havestumbled on that Hardy mentioned include protecting my mornings and detaching during non-work hours. For the former, I find myself preparing for the day by getting up 530AM. At this time, I’m either working out or reading. I protect these morning rituals by ensuring my nights start early.
For detaching during non-work hours, I do other things important to me –okay, 85% of the time. This includes doing yoga, reading, or watching the occasional Netflix show. I’ve gone so far as to also block out my calendar specific days and times to be completely off. Completely off times = social time or simply my time.
Everyone is different, but the concepts and lessons are applicable – know what works for you and hold those priorities as sacred.
I had a lunch with an entrepreneur recently talking about his experiences in startups in growth-mode and those in early-stage (pre-product-market fit). The most interesting wrinkle in our talk was having a young child while at these startups. I’m at the age where many people around me are having multiple kids. So, as I look around at possible co-founders, I must consider their personal lives – priorities.
My friend shared how having a young child meant he was much more cognizant of the time he spent working on the business. As one of the co-founders of his current company and having been a part of several successful (and some unsuccessful) ventures in the past, he’s building into the company’s culture strong balance.
He is also a lot more cognizant of his time. He focuses on efforts that will materially move the needle for the company. That can mean delaying certain bug fixes or existing customer complaints. His focus now reduces the number of “experimental” efforts without strong indications of traction.
A common aspect of startups and the corporate world is that life still goes on. Priorities do shift. The difference is that at a startup, sometimes experiments are the best way of finding the right thread to pull on. The balancing act, then, is the right experiments with the right lifestyle.
I was requested the other day to talk about how I balance work with life given the many things I’m working on today. Coincidentally, I read “Success at Work, Failure at Home” by Scott Weiss, entrepreneur turned VC.
Scott recalls the years his startup was doing great were years life at home was anything but. Now as a VC, Scott coaches startup CEOs on dealing with the pressures of work at home.
I’ve had several downs with the ups over the years, and now, taking on a few projects as I consider my next startup. I get questions, like from my friend, of how I balance work and life. That’s easy to answer, though, because my work is part of my life.
I don’t work allthe time, but a perfect day for me includes some work. I love what I do, and I love challenges. Over the years, especially since Body Boss, I’ve weaved in slow-down and even shut-down times.
Compared to years past when I was constantly working, I’ve learned a few things.
  • Not everyone needs everything immediately. I was too wrapped up in saying yes to others. Now, I realize how others value themselves and me. Those who matter respect my priorities.
  • Taking a day off each week makes me more productive. Like my body from work outs, my mind needs rest days to recover. These days off allow me to step out of the day-to-day and practice creativity.
  • There are two types of “me-time” – alone and with friends. Because I interact with many different people throughout the week, my alone times are havens (like morning workouts). Otherwise, I see friends on specific days of the week. Scheduling days prevents me from forgoing social activities.
  • Schedules allow for more spontaneity and freedom. Described in the Make Time post, explicitly scheduling things that matter (i.e. meetings with VCs, workouts, seeing friends, etc.) ensure high-priority things are accounted for. All other time becomes flexible to call audibles.
Whether it’s watching Netflix, running the neighborhoods, or writing journal entries, taking time off work makes me more productive. I let my mind recover and find creativity again… creativity that comes from anywhere.
How do you “balance” work and life, if there’s a distinction for you? What are some ways to mentally, emotionally recover from work?