As entrepreneurs there are a lot of mixed messages out there. You’re often told you should be constantly “crushing it”; that working through the night is a badge of honor and just part of the reality leading up to success; and that you should be strong-willed and adaptable. This rhetoric and the very real applications of it, though, are incredibly unhealthy. To get a true understanding of what they are going through, we asked eight successful entrepreneurs about their evening routine, work/life balance, and in some cases how they unplugged.
From Charleston, SC, to Washington, DC (and Los Angeles), the supporting communities come in different forms and so do the lifestyles. Overall, one thing is becoming more evident: that wellness is becoming an important factor for entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to spending time away from the office.
Eric M. Jackson – CapLinked CEO
“Boundaries give freedom. Create specific times to leave the office. I have specific routines to spend dinner with my wife. While I’m having dinner, I’m not on my phone. If I have to do additional work, I'll work those into my plans ahead of time. It’s counter-productive for an entrepreneur to have a workaholic approach. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You have to be more deliberate and methodical on how you spend your time and after work. You need to extract yourself from work. Discipline starts with your calendar. The amount of work you can do is infinite. The amount of good work is finite. Plug yourself back in and recharge.”
Dan Berger – Social Tables CEO
“Over the past year I’ve come to the realization that working out is much more about your brain than your body. Therefore, I go spinning (Zengo or Soul Cycle) 3-4 times per week at 6 AM to get my brain going and my energy up.
I love cycling so much and I wanted to share it with my employees that one of our meeting rooms at Social Tables is a spin studio. I recently started using Headspace to meditate and train my mind to chill out a little. Another one of our meeting rooms doubles up as a yoga room.”
Kevin Eichelberger – Blue Acorn CEO
“I wouldn't say that I have the healthiest of routines, but I've learned over the years how to better provide a work/life balance for myself and my family. I try to leave by 6 pm everyday and when I come home, I check out of work for a few hours to focus on being present with my wife and kids. We eat dinner together each night, then I usually focus on getting 1-2 hours of quality time in with the kids, help put them to bed, then some time with the wife before she goes to bed at around 10, and then I go back to work for a bit from 10-12 (used to be until 1 but I've gotten too old for that) – which actually can be really productive time.
But when I'm with the family, I make it a point to not be constantly checking emails (phone notifications are on silent), and to make sure it's engaging time I think it's really important, especially with kids, to not just sit in the same room as them, or be around them, but to be actively engaged and focused on them. Sometimes, schedules can get hectic (like right now), so getting quality time with them is more important than quantity of time. I tend to compartmentalize my time – either I'm working, or it's family time – not a blend. It doesn't always happen that way, but I'd use the 80/20 rule. Earlier in my CEO life I can't say I practiced this very well, so it's come with time.”
Stanfield Gray – DIG South CEO
“Entrepreneurship brings Himalayan highs and Mariana trench lows. To stay balanced and sane, I stretch daily, run and paddleboard as often as the weather allows. I also unplug and vigilantly guard family time as hard as I work. This life is not for the timid or cautious.”
Eric Bowman – Serial Entrepreneur
“The real answer is startups take time and energy and the willingness to sacrifice such time and energy necessary to out work their competitors. My personal belief is the wellness balance is never equal. Some time frames of the multiple year overnight success are focused on health, family, friends and community and others the overwhelming focus on the execution of the business model.”
James Quigley – Canvas CEO
“With a multinational company I am finding I am often talking to others on other time zones, but in a perfect world when I have moments to decompress I will catch up on the day’s news, spend time with my two precocious girls or if time alone I will unwind through strategy games.”
Anthony Cargile – Entrepreneurial Developer
“I only take on work that I will actually enjoy doing, even if I could easily delegate it out. In other words, if there were a Saturday where it was just me and my entire crew took the day off, I would probably still be playing around with some tech – so I try to make it so my client’s solution is implemented with what I would otherwise be playing around with in such a scenario, and suddenly work isn’t work at all.”
Jake Hare – Launchpeer Founder
“I founded Launchpeer about a year and a half ago. Unplugging after a certain time is important, especially if you have a family. When I first started the company I felt like I had to work 80+ hours/week or my business wouldn’t grow, but that’s not true; limit yourself so you can spend it with friends/family/community and you’ll be more productive when you actually are doing real work. I also find that with technology it’s easy for me to schedule emails to go out the next morning at the end of the day, making my mornings a lot less stressful.”