We are always on. In today’s plugged-in world, there is an expectancy of immediacy, and most days are spent with our cortisol levels flowing like a swollen creek after torrential rain. Yet, it is what we signed up for, it’s what comes with entrepreneurship. I’d love to use this article to offer tips and tricks for avoiding this “always-on” mentality. But any suggested hacks would be complete bullshit. There is no escaping. It is a requirement of being a change agent. Sorry, it is just a fact.
What I can offer is how I reframed my view of this reality. Right or wrong, I’ll let you decide, but for me, it works, and it has helped to restore my sense of balance and freedom. A fundamental axiom is that there is always more work than time and no off switch to make it stop. I pushed hard against this truth when I transitioned from corporate life to entrepreneurship. I liked my boundaries. Work hard, go home, and other than the occasional email, shut down. The weekends, for the most part, were mine, and vacations were actually vacations. That is certainly not my life now and the weird thing is, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
So, how do I handle this 24/7/365 entrepreneurial life? I start with acceptance. Those boundaries I used to enjoy don’t exist. Letting go meant that an evening phone call or weekend video meeting no longer felt like an intrusion. Neither did working while on “vacation.” They just became a part of my new routine. The latter, however, comes with an important caveat. If I am to accept that work is welcomed at all hours and all days, then I need to do the same with play.
Now admittedly, I am still pretty bad at the “play” component, but I am improving. If work is part of my evenings and weekends, then play should become a part of my weekdays. Instead of feeling guilty for taking a 9 am yoga class on Friday, I look forward to it, and to be truthful, going feels a bit liberating. I might schedule an afternoon movie date with my wife, at least in theory. I am not quite there yet. It is a process.
If vacation includes work, then work should include vacation. Here is where I am proud of myself. November 6th-8th, I’ve been invited to participate in the New Zealand Angel Investor Network Summit in Christchurch. Later that same month, on the 19th and 20th, I will be speaking at and taking part in the Hirshberg Entrepreneurship Institute in Auckland. In between those two events, I will be on a workcation. Each day, I’ve scheduled work hours from 5 am to 1 pm (8 am to 4 pm Pacific). I will take calls, hold video meetings and answer emails. You know, work. Then from 1 pm on, I plan to explore the beauty of New Zealand with my wife. Just as an aside, for all of this to work, it is vital that your partner adopt the same view of welcoming work at all hours.
This concept of a “workcation” is what I was referring to when I mentioned this new view of work restoring my sense of balance and freedom. I am at my happiest, at my most fulfilled when it is harmoniously intertwined with all aspects of my life. I hear so much talk about work/life balance. But that’s crap, in my opinion. Work is a part of life, not separate from it, and especially so for an entrepreneur. Ultimately it is about balance. Work is a vibrant, passionate, exciting part of my life. It is not, however, my whole life. If I am going to welcome work in 24/7/365, then damn if I don’t do the same for play.