As AYC Media continues to expand, the line between work and life outside the office can begin to blur. As any leader of a growing company knows, there are points in a firm's lifecycle where it must transition through pivotal growth hurdles. The period of time when you know you need to scale up but have not yet hired necessary positions can create a vortex of work that makes it easy to excuse the long hours as “temporary." The reality is that if one is not cognizant or proactive about managing one's own work/life balance, the outcome can often end with negative results.
Are there times where long hours and long days that extend into weekends for extended durations are warranted? Absolutely. During these transitional periods, the luxury of a standard and predictable schedule is not available. What makes these extended sprints acceptable is knowing that they are temporary.
The challenge is to work towards the bigger picture. The time when your job as a designer, programmer, manager or PM is large enough to “split” into a new “growth” role. As a leader in a privately held firm, it’s important to identify where and when to hire. Hire too soon and the company is short on resources required for growth. Hire too late and the workload risks pushing your team past a tipping point that can result in poor morale, turnover, burn-out and a lack in adherence to quality/performance metrics.
What keeps the team going? Success. Knowing that the work you and your colleagues has put in is paying off. Seeing new faces, adding new desks and meeting bigger clients are all signs that growth is happening.
So what do you do to manage your life between the “now” and the “then?" I recently stumbled across an article written by Sujan Patel for Entrepreneur.com that highlights 12 habits for a better work/life balance. I have highlighted some of the key points I found most helpful below.
1. Understand what “balance” means.
Balance does NOT mean 50/50. Balance can be 80/20, 70/30, etc. What matters most is that there is time set aside for the things in life that make you happy.
2. Schedule important personal activities.
Schedule things such as date night, exercise, or “me” time just like you would any other meeting. That way you can make sure you give yourself the same respect you give your clients.
3. Set boundaries.
Set limits with your team members. Let them know that, unless it’s an emergency (and make sure you define “emergency”), that you are off limits after a certain time. For example, I am not available after 8pm, and, even if you send me an email that I may read, I will not reply until the next day. If you call and leave a message, unless it’s a true emergency, I will not call you back after 8pm.
4: Manage your energy, not your time.
I found this very interesting. I know when I tend to have more energy throughout a day, and also when I need to take mental breaks. Scheduling your “heavy-lifting” around your personal peaks in energy will make you more productive.
5: Limit your work hours.
“Work never ends." If you try to complete all the work there is to do every day, you will inevitably burn out and lose the race. Know when to stop but also realize that there are days you will need to push to meet deadlines.
It’s very exciting for team members to be integral parts of a growing and evolving company, but it’s equally important not to forget yourself or your family–or the hard work won’t be worth it.