Ok, it wasn’t really a fight.
I got into a friendly argument on Twitter with a columnist, who writes for Entrepreneur Magazine (US), a couple of days ago on how to create time for your entrepreneurial venture alongside a full-time job.
The reason why I took issue with the article was because one of the strategies suggested “wake up earlier and go to bed later”, with the idea that you can “work on your business” before your family wakes up and after they go to bed.
I have serious reservations about this approach and I’m proposing some alternative solutions.
Why I don’t agree with “waking up earlier and going to bed later”:
- Multiple studies have confirmed that sleeping for less than 7 hours per night results in a decline in cognitive (mental) performance by 30-40%. This means that you’ll be trying to build a business from scratch (something in itself difficult and demanding) AND perform at your full-time job with 30% less mental power! And imagine what the impact would be if you were to do this for multiple days in a row…
- A human being has finite amounts of energy per day, and sacrificing sleep means that you’re starting your day with far less energy than usual: and you’re expected to spend “quality time” with your family at the END of the day like that, before staying up late for another night and doing it all over again?! Good luck with that!
- Starting a business is stressful. Starting a business with a family and a full-time job is 5x more stressful. Stress will lead to hormonal imbalances, weight gain, inflammation in your arteries and nervous system, digestion issues, etc. Somehow I don’t see that the solution for all that stress lies in “sleeping less hours and working more”.
The strategies I’m proposing below are based on my personal experience, tests I’ve run with high performance coaching clients, and tons of research I’ve read.
I personally juggle a full-time job alongside my work with System Endurance, my family, my triathlon / fitness training, blogging, investment activities, etc. I NEVER sacrifice sleep or health. I NEVER sacrifice “being present” for my loved ones when they need me, and I NEVER sacrifice my physical or mental health.
Here are some of my favorite principles & strategies:
Principle #1: Become more productive at your “day job”
- Use the strategies I talked about in this blog post to cut the time spent on email from the average 4hrs to less than 20min.
- Spend 20min to plan your day first thing in the morning, and only put the MOST impactful things on your to do list.
- Try to get out of meetings (a major time-sink) and provide solutions instead.
- Urge your clients / colleagues to call you if they need you (vs. expecting you to check emails 30x a day)
- Work in uninterrupted “blocks” of time: communicate that clearly to the colleagues and put your phone on silent mode.
Principle #2: Outsource Outsource Outsource
- I’ll keep it simple since I’ve done the math: I now outsource tasks that used to take up 4 hours of my day to 2 virtual assistants. The outsourcing costs me $150/month.
- You can outsource digital marketing, proofreading, research, accounting, website building, building sales platforms, social media management, calendar management, project management and so much more!
Principle #3: Learn the tips and tricks for your new venture
- When I wanted to be effective at social media, I didn’t opt for the time-consuming “trial and error”. I bought a $30 course in effective digital marketing and went through it in 3 days.
- I’ve read over 15 books on the business of high performance and productivity, so I don’t repeat others’ mistakes and learn new “fast and efficient” ways of doing things.
Principle #4: Do NOT work at nights and have at least 1 day completely off
- I always take a day completely off every week (no “day job” no “own business” work): it’s family and ‘me’ time.
- I always get at least 7 hours of sleep every night, waking up with energy levels and mental capacity at 100%.
Principle #5: Take care of your mind and body and they’ll take care of you
- I NEVER eat processed foods or junk foods. This is not just for health reasons, but because they will drastically reduce my ability to “perform” physically and mentally, so what’s the point?
- I do something physical every day: either a hard workout, yoga, long aerobic workout, a long walk, deep tissue massage, etc. But I must do something every single day.
- I do something for my mind every day: meditation, deep breathing exercises, reading, or cognitive training (I use Dual N Back)
So no, please, PLEASE don’t sacrifice sleep, health and family time in an attempt to build your own business. There are many ways to become more productive in other aspects of your life, to CREATE time to build your business.
By the way, I've put together a carefully crafted marathon training plan for the "busy executive, parent, entrepreneur". It's balanced, has far less "hours of training" vs common plans, and is designed to take absolutely anyone from 0 to marathon without uprooting your life in the process. You can read more about it here.