I hate to admit it, but I love to work.
Yet I have to make some changes in my life, or I am going to burn out.
This is not easy, especially when you have conditioned yourself to work all the time. I am writing this column, for instance, while watching my hometown Philadelphia Eagles play the hated Dallas Cowboys. A normal, well-adjusted person would put away the laptop and sit back with a bowl of chips and a favorite beverage to enjoy the game.
So what can I do to become more "normal" on Sundays and improve my overall work-life balance, so I can remain fresh and engaged, thereby prolonging my business career?
First, I have to admit that I am never going to be a 40-hour-a-week worker. It's not part of the DNA that makes up an entrepreneur.
Second, I need to realize that the sun will come up and the Earth will continue to spin whether or not I put in 70 hours a week.
Third, I need to recognize that my family needs more than money. They need my attention, which is often absent, even when my body is actually sitting at the dinner table. My wife and daughters will often ask me to tell them what they are discussing at the dinner table. Repeating the last few words I heard doesn't fly anymore.
10 Things to Do (and Not to Do)
Here is what I am doing now to retain my balance, enjoy my life and keep my edge:
1. Minimize Evening Business:
I used to be out at business events three nights a week. Now I don't go to more than one night event a week. I make sure that I am home and ready for family dinners. Not just to sit there, but to make a contribution by listening to everyone's day and filling in everyone on what I am doing.
2. Work from Home:
Most Fridays, I work at home and turn off my computer at 5:30 p.m. so I can unwind and be ready for a 6 p.m. dinner that we have in our dining room instead of kitchen.
3. No More Saturdays:
I have made it a practice (unless I have been at conferences during the week) to not work from sunset on Friday to sunrise on Sunday. I won't answer my business phone or reply to emails.
4. No Laptop at Games:
I have left my laptop at home when my girls play sports. This wasn't easy, but with threats from my wife and daughters regarding my physical health, I thought it was a good idea to leave the laptop at home.
I don't have time to be a head coach, but I do have time to be an assistant coach. It allows me to spend more time with my girls and have some shared stories to tell.
6. Read More:
Although I read approximately one different business book each month, along with 10 business magazines, I make sure that all of my night reading is fun, interesting and
business related. I select books that allow me to have good conversations with my wife and go to sleep thinking about something other than business.
7. Attend Social Events:
My wife and I joined the World Affairs Council, which features speakers from all over the world that talk about what is going on in their countries and their perceptions of the U.S. These types of events open up your world to new people and ideas.
8. Plays and Movies:
My wife and I go to at least one movie a month and as a family, we go to at least one play or musical a
quarter. Movies and plays provide either escapism or new topics of discussion outside of business.
9. Weekend Getaways:
Every six months we go with our daughters for a long weekend to New York or some major city. This allows me to spend time and get to know my family better in an environment that isn't focused on school and work. We can go at a leisurely pace, and it's very cathartic.
10. Family Projects:
My one daughter has her own mystery book-publishing business called Cookie Dalmatian mysteries. I work with her as she writes the books and finances the publishing. I also work as her press agent. It's great when you can work on new ideas that don't play out like life-and-death dramas -- which often happen in business -- and it gives you a chance to develop memories with your children. It reminds you there is more to life than just your own work.
If you are looking for good books on this subject, there are two I recommend:
A Life in Balance by Dr. Kathleen Hall.
This book provides suggestions on how to change your lifestyle in a way that improves your quality of life without taking away your drive to succeed. The book lists Web sites and other sources of good information on how to develop personal and professional balance.
The Education of an Accidental CEO: Lessons Learned from the Trailer Park to the Corner Office by David Novak.
David Novak is the President and CEO of Yum! Brands, which is the parent company of Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. In his book, he talks about never working on weekends and what he does to provide balance, so he enjoys both his family and his work.
I am working on a book myself called "Sages of Business," and I have found that all of the CEOs I spoke with
hard workers, but they have learned over time about the need for balance. Many have learned the hard way through failed marriages and children that have become strangers, but ultimately they realized that long-term success requires a balance of work and life.
Marc Kramer, a serial entrepreneur, is the author of five books and is an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton's Global Consulting Practicum, where he serves as Country Manager for Chile.