When you’re building up a business, especially when you’re doing it on your own, it’s tempting to throw yourself into working 24/7. After all, the work’s got to be done, or the clients might not come back.
That’s not 100% wrong, of course. It’s hard work to build up a business, and you have to be willing to put long hours in when the work’s there. And when it’s not there, for that matter. But what you don’t want is to burn yourself out. It’s a question of balance — and that means more than just outing myself as an old hippie who remembers the Moody Blues.
Unlike many of you, I imagine, I haven’t gone away for a “major” holiday this summer, but I’ve certainly had breaks. I spent a lovely four days with family among the Lancashire moors, and a few weeks later I spent three exhilarating days at the Cropredy music festival. One of the friendliest and most eclectic festivals in the calendar, it featured artists ranging from Ralph McTell to Madness — not to mention a band who did a “hoedown” version of Bohemian Rhapsody that has to be heard to be believed.
I’ve had days out, too, ranging from Welwyn’s Roman baths to the Hertford Musical Mystery Tour — not to mention frequent rambles in the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside.
So am I a slacker? Of course not. Hard work is important, and there are times when everything else has to go on the back burner so I can meet a deadline. To keep that up month in, month out, though, would not only be unacceptable, it would also be counterproductive.
In the end, I’m not working in order to work more, I’m working to have more resources to enjoy my life. That’s true even for me as an unattached person, and it’s far more important for those of you with a family.
The work-life balance is increasingly recognised as central in the business world, but there are still insidious temptations to over-concentrate on work, especially when you have sole responsibility for building the business. Working hard is vital, but it’s equally vital to build in time to enjoy what you’re working for.
It’s a question of balance.