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According to Indeed, 67% of workers experienced increased professional burnout after the Covid-19 outbreak. At the same time, a remote employee’s working hours grew by 15%. It may seem like work-life balance should be a priority, but leading companies like Tesla are showing quite the opposite. I believe that the traditional understanding of work-life balance is harmful and that the more effort you make, the more outstanding results you get. Here are the principles that I personally follow.
Time is your most liquid asset
Even if you’re not running a business, you’ll need to perform better than your colleagues to move along the career ladder. Therefore, you need to spend more time working. For entrepreneurs, especially when they have just started growing their businesses, the rule “Time is Money” is even more critical. Many of the most successful, including Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer or Donald Trump, slept only about 4-5 hours a day and spent the rest of their day working hard when starting their careers.
Apart from developing the business, an entrepreneur has to invest their time in activities that will help them reach their goals:
- Reading. Bill Gates reads 50 books a year — about one book a week. He considers reading one of the main ways he educates himself. Fundamental books about how the brain works, sociology, philosophy, economics, the biology of human behavior and cognitive psychology, and must-reads applicable to your work can help you find success.
- Networking. Building a network of connections has often been called one of the critical factors of professional success. For instance, in 2016, a Cornell University study proved the value of networking in a group of 165 lawyers. Networking helps build company morale, personal branding and reputation, and of course, it provides the opportunity to gain many insights.
- Consultations with experts. Apart from informal relations, I regularly arrange meetings with professionals and learn from or exchange experiences, choosing leaders in a field I’m interested in. Of course, the best learning formats vary from one person to another, and some prefer when information is highly structured. However, it’s hard to find unique first-hand information in other forms.
I’m sure that spending 16-19 hours of your time on activities like this is a fair exchange for your growth and development, especially because you usually don’t have anything else to invest in in the initial stage. If you have found your path, you don’t feel that working in such a mode is “overwork.”
Related: Time is Money and Its Way More Expensive Than You Would Think
Hiring like-minded team members
It is almost impossible to reach your goal without people who share it. If your company consists of people who want to develop as much as you do, you will not have to spend much of your resources to motivate them.
If a person lacks the ambition to create something new, the enthusiasm for new ideas and the desire to implement them, then they will burn out quickly and leave the team. We weed out such people at the hiring stage to reduce this risk. After passing the job interview, each candidate has to pass a Culture Fit interview with another department head. During this, we warn applicants that we do work a lot and ask the following questions to determine their motivation level:
- What were your tasks in your previous job? We need to know if the applicant took responsibility and made important decisions.
- What were the most difficult things you encountered?
- What were the most challenging decisions you made?
- What are your goals?
If we learn that the person is not ready to work hard and develop and doesn’t suit our company, we don’t hire them, regardless of their exceptional skills.
Therefore, I’m sure everyone on my team is here to reach the most ambitious goals in the long term or, rarely, in the short term.
Related: 6 Reasons Why You Must Resist the Temptation to Hire a Brilliant Jerk
Please still take a break
One of the key factors of top performance for me is the ability to rest as soon as I need to. It is like working with a powerful computer: if you don’t reset it regularly, it will not function effectively after some time.
The same is true for my team: I reassure them that anyone can have a vacation or take a day off whenever they feel burnt out or need a break. The processes are built so I, myself, or any teammate could take over their responsibilities for a while.
For me, there are several “bells” that signal when I need a day or a week off:
- I start postponing different tasks for later.
- Work doesn’t please me anymore.
- I feel tired of making decisions.
- I become unable to generate hypotheses.
It has been proven that taking a break helps the brain activate creativity. I have experienced it myself. Last winter, I was on vacation due to Covid-19, and I spent it lying on the sofa and watching anime. How can it even benefit the business? After my brain relaxed, I accidentally devised the idea that helped us increase our marketing investments ten times.
I realized that testing marketing hypotheses are similar to a lab where scientists test something — so why not create one for us? I decided to spend 10% of our budget on constantly testing the weirdest materials to use later if they work. Because of this, we always have prepared creatives for when our audience gets tired of the old ones.
Related: The Truth About Work-Life Balance
Find your goal and reach it!
Being reliant on external motivation can easily unsettle you. Over time, you will find yourself looking to outside sources for more nourishment. Therefore, the most antifragile and sustainable energy recharge should be your goal. As Steve Jobs used to say: “Dream Bigger.”
My goal is to give people from developing countries equal access to education. We’ve already launched educational courses in the Philippines and Indonesia, and by 2025, we will provide 1 million people with an in-demand profession and expand to other markets soon. When you have an aim like this, which you have visualized to the smallest detail, the rest of the world dissolves. You don’t care about the energy boost, fatigue and other nonsense.
Another factor that is vital in neglecting work-life balance without burning out is a decent salary. Of course, during the first couple of years of your career, working for experience is okay, but later on, it will start getting difficult.
For me, entrepreneurship is like a computer game with the greatest prize. I have a character that I constantly boost by investing my time in solving problems, facing difficulties, and learning how to perform better. And to reach the prize, I will work 16-20 hours daily!