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When your job becomes your life

May 19, 2013 / By

I was aware that the move from being an employee to running a business was going to be a challenge. There are many areas of business that are new to me, many learnings and many experiences to be had. That was a key part of the excitement in the decision to take a risk and join my 3 closest friends on this journey.

It has now been 8 full months since we opened the public doors of Jaden Social, so over the next few weeks I am going to write a number of reflective posts on some key learnings and experiences which I have experienced in this time. Let’s start with this one:

Work becomes life

Even thought most employees spend more than 60% of their non sleeping hours either at work or commuting to work, there is still a common feeling that their job is merely a 9-5, means to an income and just a part of everyday life.

When you are an employee you have a number of distinct parts or phases to life. There is your job (9 to 5 for the lucky ones), the after work hours and the weekend. On top of that there are the vacation periods where you are able to escape it all and detach the body from everyday life.

Those distinct parts of life completely disappear when you become an entrepreneur or your own boss. This was something I kind of knew going into this, but probably not adequately prepared for it. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I throughly enjoy having complete control of every waking moment and being able to make dynamic decisions based on the opportunities around me. But at the same time it is very easy to lose any balance between work and life. Rand and Brad have both written excellent blogs about this, and while I am years and years behind them in experience, growth, success and learning, those posts and others have definitely helped me become aware of the dangers in losing control of that balance.

The first thing that disappears is the evenings. When you are wholly invested in your business your passion and motivation drive you to extreme levels of output. 8 hour days turn into 10 hour days, into 14 hours days and sometimes more. Now I have read that this is not a good thing, but it certainly has been a key reason we have been able to move and grow so quickly over the past 6 months. The second thing that disappears are weekends. They become the only days where you can work ON the business rather than IN it.

But this is not sustainable, certainly not for long periods of time. Either the body or the mind hits the wall fairly quickly. It was interesting to see that between the 4 partners, who all pushed ourselves to the limits (on our own accord), there has been even split between body and mind. For two of us the body gave way first, while for the other two the mind became fatigued and started impacting the levels and quality of work.

This is where the importance of good partners and great mentors make a big difference. Thanks to a number of virtual mentors (guys who don’t know me and who I have never met), and regular conversations with the partners, this was something I was very aware of and we have been able to get on top of the situation early.

For the first 3 months we worked 7 days a week, but this has now been pulled that back to 6. We have slowly been cutting down the hours in the office as well, from going home at 10pm to now normally leaving the office at 7pm.

These are all small steps and there is still a long way to go until we are able to find a balance which we set out to achieve. We are very aware that this will potentially take another 2-3 years but we are consciously making steps in the right direction every week.

The next goal is to get the business to a position where each of the partners is able to take a week long holiday (not at the same time), and only spend a maximum of 1 hour on email per day throughout that week.

Seems like a dream at the moment, but so was having our Saturday free only 6 months ago.


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