Startups: The Monkey On Your Back

Startups are like crack. Highly addictive, intensely interesting and able to leave your life and health in tatters if you’re not careful. They are fast-paced, high energy and – if you truly believe in the product or service – very, very cool.

One of the joys of the startup is being able to pour yourself into your work and then very quickly seeing tangible results from your efforts. But its not always redbull and roses – especially when you have a life outside of your work. Your spouse, kids (or pets) and even your health can be impacted negatively, and very quickly when you are off galavanting on the bleeding edge of business and technology.

So how do you balance your addiction so that your life will still be there when you crawl out of the high-adrenaline haze of your work? This is a topic I’ve started to see being addressed more and more and there’s no quick fix answer, mostly because this particular balancing act will require you to be extremely strict – with yourself. And for most of us, that’s never easy.

The key is persistence and planning – much like anything else worth doing! Here are 3 quick start no-nonsense tips to help you get started:

Set boundaries on your time

Make it clear to your co-workers, partners, team members, boss, etc when you are on the clock and when you regularly anticipate being unavailable. That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t be flexible; it just means that you are setting the expectations of those around you so that when you take time to put some energy into your private life there aren’t any raised eyebrows or resentment.

It’s OK to take a break

Too often we feel that if we step away from what we are doing, even for an hour, everything will come crashing down. Very rarely is this true. The show will go on without you – for a little while at least. Don’t be afraid to take time out for yourself. Spend time with your wife. Cuddle your cat. Go to the gym! Without a doubt, your work will benefit from it.

Don’t mistake quantity for quality

Startups are all about leveraging the little you do have to compensate for what you don’t yet have. Many make the mistake of confusing time spent “in the office” for quality work. These two things are not always linked and sometimes working less lets you deliver a better quality work product so you can truly punch above your weight. This has the added benefit of letting you do more in less time so you can reinvest that saved energy into your personal life, which will in turn help keep up your momentum in your professional endeavours.

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