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Start-Ups

How to Achieve Work-Life Balance in Startups

By Townes Haas   |    November 12, 2015   |    11:35 AM

Working at a startup is a full-time commitment, often involving overtime. Several shops in the Bay Area have even moved to mandatory 10-hour days for their employees in order to meet their goals. But it doesn't need to be impossible to have a life outside the office as well. What are some ways you can switch from work mode to your everyday life?

1. Rethink Work-Life Balance

Many in Silicon Valley argue that work-life balance is a worthless concept as it is traditionally presented. Sometimes outsiders are given the impression that some evil middle manager is forcing people who work at startups to work these long hours, which is usually not the case. The types of people that startups attract are usually after one of two things. In the first case, they genuinely love the product or service that they are supporting and are clearly willing to do whatever it takes to help the company succeed. This is the “Drink the Kool-Aid” crowd. The second type is simply wildly ambitious. They join startups because they think they will be more likely to win fortune and glory by taking risks. Either way, it’s worth evaluating what type of employee you are and what your reasons are for working at a startup. You may find you need less “balance” than other people think you do.

2. Schedule Your Life, Not Just Your Work

Part of the problem with startup employees is that they are so busy they think they need to carve out part of their work day to make time for “life.” This is a dumb idea and it’s how startup enthusiasts burn themselves out, ruin their relationships, and ultimately fail the company. Instead, more forward-thinking entrepreneurs reserve time in their schedules for activities that allow them to recharge and add value to their lives, such as exercise, a date night, or simply a day off. It gives them something to look forward to but also forces upon them extra motivation to manage their time well so they don’t have to cancel on others and disappoint themselves.

3. Set Some Boundaries

We mentioned Silicon Valley earlier, where some people are indeed crazy. How crazy? There is rumored to be a guy living in a truck in the Google parking lot. Not a homeless person. Not a Silicon Valley cost-cutter. An actual, badged, Google employee. That’s how crazy. This is why it’s important that employees at startups set boundaries, set work hours, and stick to them. Otherwise, they tend to succumb to behaviors that might just turn them into urban legends themselves.