I came across this article recently.
Immediately, I was intrigued by the title. And once I opened it up, I came to realize that it is based off a quote by the one and only Randi Zuckerberg.
As with all great quotes of our current time period, it came from a Tweet.
“The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma: Maintaining friendships. Building a great company. Spending time w/family. Staying fit. Getting sleep. Pick 3.”
Well, that sure sounds like an awful endorsement for entrepreneurship.
Randi Zuckerberg is sure more of an expert on all things business and entrepreneurial than I am; however, that doesn’t mean that she’s right about everything that she preaches via her Twitter account.
Do Entrepreneurs Only Have to “Choose 3”?
Based on my own experiences, the experiences of my friends and family, and experiences I’ve consumed via various forms of media as well as a few statistics, I am going to attempt to do nothing further from disproving what I will now coin as the Randi Zuckerberg Theory of Entrepreneurship.
While it may apply in some cases, every person is different, which implies that every entrepreneur is different. Additionally, it’s highly possible to pick and choose at different times and situations. Some days, you may only be able to pick two, but that doesn’t discredit the idea that overall, you can, in fact you can have all five.
Disclaimer: I am in no way am condoning burnout. I do, however, condone balance, as well as sacrifice, time management, and organization. Some would call it obsessive planning, but, I like to call it being reliable and making sure you never double-book yourself.
Second Disclaimer: I am not a parent, nor do I profess to know anything about being a parent, as it applies to this quote or otherwise. If I am ever to become a parent, it is possible I could have a different perspective. “Family,” in the context of this article, constitutes parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and all otherwise important relatives whose occasions you’d like to be there to celebrate. It does not constitute one’s own children.
Now that all disclaimers are out of the way, here’s how you don’t have to just pick three.
Disproving the ‘Randi Zuckerberg’ Theory: Finding Balance as an Entrepreneur
In Randi Zuckerberg’s quote, she mentions many elements of having a happy and healthy life. The good news is that you DON’T have to pick only 3.
Here is how you can go about finding BALANCE as an entrepreneur – all without facing burnout.
1) Stay Fit
If you’re a proponent of the home exercise equipment, good for you — mine tends to just sit there and eventually find an alternative life as a clothing rack. But all kidding aside, home exercise equipment is a great way to stay fit, especially if you’re an entrepreneur who works from home more often than not.
There’s nothing wrong with picking up a hand weight while you’re reading email, or with taking a 15-minute break from writing content to ride your incumbent bike. However, for those of us clothing rack/exercise equipment types, the gym is the place for you… and I’m not talking about one of those professional-level, fitness blogger- type gyms. My own gym offers 24-hour entry on weekdays, which is great if you’re on the go all day long and don’t have any other time to exercise.
Gyms are also growing more reasonably priced, and you have your choice of machines to use. And the guilt of paying for the membership doesn’t hurt as a motivator, either.
Finally, if the gym doesn’t sound like your preferred home for fitness, try going for a walk or a run in your neighborhood. Same 15-minute break method above applies here too.
No matter your preferred method of exercise, make sure you schedule the time to exercise, just the same as you would a conference call. You’ll ensure you show up to your appointment with yourself, and you won’t miss any other appointments, engagements or leave any tasks incomplete in lieu of exercise.
You don’t have to be a body builder to be fit and healthy, and the Zuckerberg Theory only calls for “staying fit.”
2) Maintain Friendships
This aspect of life in general is made far easier for millennials — as well as the generations that come after us — due to the continuing evolution of communication and social media. While social media is not even close to the same sort of interaction as face-to-face interaction, it can serve as a method for keeping in touch when you may not have the time to have a long phone conversation. Of course, FaceTime, Skype or video chat via Facebook are all great options for when you truly want to see and hear someone but cannot physically.
You don’t need to see your friends in person every single day to maintain friendships, and the Zuckerberg Theory calls for maintenance. Your real friends will understand your, as I like to call it, “level of busy,” and won’t hold your growing business as well as your packed schedule against you. If they do, it’s possible they were never friends to begin with.
3) Spend Time With Family
It’s difficult to spend time with family when you’re not an entrepreneur, or developing a startup. More often than not, you don’t live around the corner from members of your extended family, and while many millennials live at home as I do, we don’t even see our parents all the time.
As such, I’m not going to try to disprove this aspect of the Zuckerberg Theory; however, I am going to illustrate that it is a moot point and shouldn’t even be included in the Zuckerberg Theory as something to choose among the five items listed above. The notion that it is difficult to spend time with family is not unique to the budding entrepreneur — those who work 9-5 desk jobs or jobs on off-shifts can potentially also find it difficult. And the Zuckerberg Theory, if it is going to focus on entrepreneurs, should choose items that are unique to the entrepreneur and startup lifestyle only.
4) Get Enough Sleep
Ah, sleep. Highly-coveted for so many of us. But, the key words in that previous sentence are… “many of us,” as Americans are only getting an average of 6.8 hours per night, which is obviously less than the recommended 7-9 hours. So, yet another piece of the Zuckerberg Theory that is not solely linked to entrepreneurs and startup trailblazers.
However, as lack of sleep can lead to burnout, and burnout is often linked to entrepreneurs, it should not be made into a moot point the same as maintaining relationship with family was above.
So… it is possible to get above average hours of sleep. The Zuckerberg Theory only asks us to “get” sleep, which means, that anything above the recommended minimum of seven hours will suffice for the purposes of this argument.
As entrepreneurs and startup trailblazers, it’s highly possible that you’re making your own respective schedules, and aren’t necessarily restricted to a 9-5 lifestyle. That’s a plus when it comes to getting those seven hours of sleep.
If you’re more of a night owl, you can work long into the night and not have to wake up until ten the next morning. If you don’t have to be awake until ten, you can go to bed at three and still get those seven hours. While it seems fundamentally unorthodox to stay up until three o’clock in the morning doing anything at all, let alone work, as an entrepreneur, it’s highly possible that’s what time you’ll have to stay up until that time to ensure that all of the necessary work is done. The good news? You can still get the sleep that you need to function, thanks to your flexible schedule.
Another important component to getting the sleep that you need? As with working out and staying fit – time management.
Schedule your sleep, even if that means taking a nap in the middle of the day when you know you won’t be on a conference call, or working on promotions, or, of course, exercising. Sleep is sleep, no matter when you have time to get it.
5) Build a Great Company
You don’t need to read my argument against the Zuckerberg Theory to know how to build a great company. I’m not here to offer tips for promotions, products, services or anything else related to your individual business philosophies.
But… I am here to shed light, once again, on the importance of time management and keeping track of your tasks, which is essential to building a great company, no matter the field that said company is in.
Time management as it relates to building a great company has nothing to do with “having” the time to build it — it has much more to do with “finding,” “creating” and “sticking to” the time. As someone with many sidelines in addition to my regular “day job,” I’ve had to really work hard at time management, so I will offer a few nuggets that I’ve learned from my own experiences.
It is absolutely imperative that you write down all of your tasks — in a format that works for you. Maybe you’re a bullet journal junkie, or you prefer a plain, seemingly disorganized notebook without any rhyme or reason in the eyes of someone who isn’t you, but it still gets the job done. Or you can go with my own method: I utilize a categorized spreadsheet that I created myself, with the help of Google Sheets. Thanks to apps that sync across devices, I can access the spreadsheet in real time from my phone or a computer, or any device that I can log into Google Sheets, really.
I’ve also learned to keep my tasks separate from my calendar — it seems there’s a reason why they are separate apps on an iPhone for each. Sometimes, tasks have deadlines, but they don’t need to be completed on a particular day prior to that deadline. Appointments are different – they are day-of-appointment only. And in turn, they should be categorized differently, with a different app or paper calendar or even a different notebook that is legible to you and you alone.
Of course, it’s possible your task list and your calendar will work in tandem, but spend time inputting items into both, and you’ll have a much better idea of the time available to you than you would without those two crucial organizers.
The Key to Being a Successful (and Happy) Entrepreneur is BALANCE
So, how does it all of the above work together in order to seemingly defeat the Zuckerberg Theory?
Time management is imperative in all of the above areas — not just in developing a great company. It is the cornerstone that holds your life as an entrepreneur together.
An important philosophy to keep in mind with regard to time management is to make the most of any “found time,” meaning: that cancelled conference call, that dinner with a friend that just didn’t happen, those extra minutes you scheduled to get to your destination. Even 30 extra minutes that you didn’t think would be available to you can make all of the difference. You can use that “found time” to work, of course. But, you can also use that “found time” to grab a quick workout. You can use it to call a friend you haven’t spoken with in some time. You can even use it to sleep.
Another secret to not having to “pick three” is the knowledge that saying “no” does not confirm that the Zuckerberg Theory is true. Saying “no” to going out one Saturday night so that you have time to work on your social media content is not evidence that you are picking building your company over your social life — it is evidence that you know when it is necessary to sacrifice in a particular situation. Your friends, if they are real friends, will stick by you and be available next Saturday night, or will FaceTime you from wherever they are when you need a break from working.
Finally, I’m going to state the obvious. The ability to work from anywhere in our current digital age makes it even easier to defeat the Zuckerberg Theory. For example, you can utilize that “found time” to do something as small as add to your digital task list, because while you don’t have to pick three, every second truly counts — and the 30 seconds you spend updating your list electronically, from anywhere, are 30 seconds you can use later to show up 30 seconds early to a client meeting, and make an even better impression than you would have already.
And in the knowledge that every second counts, along with the vision that allowed you to want to be an entrepreneur in the first place, you’re going to be just fine maintaining family, friends, your fitness, your sleep schedule and building a great company.