Under the Radar

17: Work-Life Balance


00:00:00   Welcome to Under the Radar,

00:00:01   a show about independent iOS development.

00:00:03   I'm Marco Arment.

00:00:04   - And I'm David Smith.

00:00:05   Under the Radar is never longer than 30 minutes,

00:00:08   so let's get started.

00:00:09   - I have a little hesitation there.

00:00:10   You're almost at 15.

00:00:11   - Almost.

00:00:12   (laughing)

00:00:13   - So this week we're gonna be talking about

00:00:15   work-life balance.

00:00:17   Both of us are independent.

00:00:18   Both of us have had jobs before.

00:00:20   And you did consulting for a while, right?

00:00:24   - I did.

00:00:25   - Yeah, I did only very briefly,

00:00:26   so I'm not much of an authority on consulting, but you are.

00:00:28   And so we kind of have these different job types

00:00:31   and the work-life balance can vary a lot between them.

00:00:36   You know, I think full-time employment,

00:00:39   when you're working for somebody else,

00:00:41   you have like a nine to five kind of job,

00:00:42   at least you hope, sometimes it's worse than that,

00:00:44   but that's generally what you're going for.

00:00:47   When you're working full-time for somebody else,

00:00:49   you are kind of not in control of your own work-life balance

00:00:53   to most of the degree.

00:00:55   But that might be a good thing sometimes.

00:00:57   like, you know, the full-time jobs can span

00:01:00   the entire spectrum from worst to best work-life balance,

00:01:05   and it really depends on the job

00:01:06   and the conditions around it.

00:01:08   But when they're good, when you have a nice, easy,

00:01:11   you know, or not easy, but when you have a good job

00:01:15   at a well-run place working on something

00:01:17   that's not totally crazy, that can usually offer

00:01:20   the best and most consistent work-life balance

00:01:23   among all the different employment types in our business.

00:01:26   And that it's most likely to be a healthy work-life balance

00:01:30   when you have a big, boring company

00:01:32   that you're working for,

00:01:33   working on probably something

00:01:35   that isn't that interesting of work to you necessarily

00:01:38   and that won't be the trendy, cool thing

00:01:40   that all the Google people are talking about or whatever.

00:01:42   Stuff that we wouldn't be talking about

00:01:44   on our tech podcast in all likelihood.

00:01:45   You work for a bank or an insurance company

00:01:47   or something like that.

00:01:49   We think of these jobs oftentimes as being boring,

00:01:52   but boring can be really good in a lot of ways

00:01:55   and it can really offer an incredibly healthy

00:01:58   work-life balance if most of the time,

00:02:01   you're not working incredibly long hours,

00:02:03   you're not having to work on the weekends

00:02:05   or when you're home or on vacation,

00:02:08   you don't have to take work with you when you leave work.

00:02:11   So when you have one of these jobs,

00:02:12   that can offer an incredible work-life balance.

00:02:16   And usually, again, it might not be the most cutting edge

00:02:20   stuff in the consumer space that you're working on.

00:02:22   You might not be building the next photo sharing app

00:02:24   or whatever, you probably also won't strike it rich

00:02:27   doing this kind of thing because you probably are working

00:02:30   for a more mature, stable company where you're getting

00:02:33   a typical salary for the kind of work you do.

00:02:35   You're probably not getting a lot of stock or stock options

00:02:38   or at least what you're getting will be fairly

00:02:40   incrementally valuable.

00:02:41   So there are downsides to this, but it can really provide

00:02:45   incredible work life balance because really,

00:02:47   once you leave work, generally you're done for the day.

00:02:49   You don't have to be constantly on call,

00:02:51   constantly doing things, answering emails,

00:02:54   you know, at midnight when you're trying to go to bed

00:02:56   and your boss is emailing you about crazy stuff like that,

00:02:58   usually doesn't happen in these bigger companies.

00:03:00   And they also can usually help manage vacation time

00:03:03   a lot better.

00:03:04   You know, like when you work for yourself,

00:03:07   you know, you can take vacation whenever you want.

00:03:09   But oftentimes, and I think we'll get to this,

00:03:12   oftentimes that's kind of a bad thing as well.

00:03:15   When you work for a big company,

00:03:17   you usually accrue vacation time

00:03:20   on a certain fixed rate per year that you're working there,

00:03:23   per month that you're working there.

00:03:24   And usually they will even have to pay it out to you

00:03:27   if you quit or get, I don't know if you get fired,

00:03:29   but when you leave, these days are actually accounted for.

00:03:32   So you earn vacation days and you are often forced

00:03:36   to take them or they won't accumulate past a certain limit

00:03:40   so you have to take a vacation kind of thing.

00:03:42   And oftentimes that is better than a kind of freeform

00:03:46   vacation policy where if you're working for a little startup

00:03:48   or working for yourself where it's like,

00:03:51   They were like, "Well, you can take a vacation

00:03:53   "whenever you want, but you can never stop working."

00:03:55   Oftentimes, that work-life balance that you get

00:04:00   at a bigger company or at a more mature company

00:04:02   is just unbeatable.

00:04:04   And then you also have, if you're doing consulting work,

00:04:07   if you decide not to work for a big company,

00:04:08   a lot of people in our business are doing consulting work.

00:04:11   And with consulting, you are much more responsible

00:04:14   for maintaining your own work-life balance

00:04:17   than when you're working for somebody else.

00:04:19   And it's kind of a weird middle ground.

00:04:22   I think consulting, if I had to take a guess

00:04:25   in a broad generalization, I would say consulting

00:04:27   probably offers the least work-life balance,

00:04:31   health of all the different employment types

00:04:33   that I've seen from people who do it.

00:04:35   Because you don't have a full-time boss,

00:04:38   but every client is kind of a boss.

00:04:40   So you kind of have like multiple bosses,

00:04:43   all of whom have different expectations on your time,

00:04:46   And your income is tied directly to the hours

00:04:50   that you are working for them.

00:04:51   And you have to bill them for the hours,

00:04:52   and they are paying for these hours,

00:04:54   so it's kind of hard to waste any.

00:04:56   And so if you stop working for, say, a night or a weekend,

00:05:01   if you stop working, the money stops coming in.

00:05:05   So there's a huge incentive to overwork

00:05:08   and to not have a good work-life balance.

00:05:10   And oftentimes consulting work comes in waves.

00:05:14   So you might have really crazy times

00:05:15   really dry time, that it's kind of hard to keep things in balance there. So I think

00:05:20   consulting is probably the hardest. Then you have indie life, where if you work on your

00:05:24   own products, or if you are the owner of a company, which is kind of different, but if

00:05:28   you work on your own stuff, it seems like you'd have the best work-life balance possible,

00:05:34   but in reality, you have many of the same pressures as consultants do, where you kind

00:05:40   of impose your own guilt on yourself, like, "Wait, I'm not working right now, so I'm

00:05:44   I'm wasting time or I should be always doing something

00:05:48   or this is unproductive time.

00:05:49   And it makes it hard to enjoy a vacation

00:05:53   or even a night off, a night to watch TV with your spouse

00:05:56   or go out or something.

00:05:58   It makes it hard to enjoy that when you work for yourself

00:06:01   and you know that I could be working right now,

00:06:03   I could be doing something right now.

00:06:05   And any time you're not spent working,

00:06:08   the work is just not moving forward.

00:06:10   There's no one else picking up the slack

00:06:12   or the office isn't just closed for the day.

00:06:13   things just stop when you're not working.

00:06:16   And this can often lead to a harder than usual

00:06:20   work-life balance to maintain.

00:06:21   So I don't know, so both of us are the last category

00:06:26   in which the independent developers who work for ourselves,

00:06:30   so, 'cause you don't really do any consulting anymore,

00:06:32   do you?

00:06:33   - I don't, you haven't for a few years.

00:06:35   - Right, yeah, so both of us are totally independent now,

00:06:37   we work only on our own stuff, but I mean,

00:06:41   I guess we, let's start with kind of like a status update.

00:06:44   Like, how do you think your work-life balance is?

00:06:48   - I think now.

00:06:49   Like having now been, I think I've been independent

00:06:52   for about eight years, and I've been,

00:06:55   haven't done consulting for probably three years or so.

00:07:00   Like I've been fully, fully independent

00:07:02   for three or four years now.

00:07:05   I'd say I'm getting pretty good at it.

00:07:07   It's been the result, though, of a lot of effort and time

00:07:12   and thought to get to here, because by default,

00:07:15   you're not gonna have a good work-life balance.

00:07:18   Like, that was the thing that I sort of found

00:07:19   when I sort of quit my day job, and I was like,

00:07:22   okay, it's like, this'll be great.

00:07:24   I'll work from home, I'll be able to be around.

00:07:27   I started going independent

00:07:28   right when our first child was born.

00:07:29   I was like, this'll be great, I'll be home.

00:07:32   I'll be around him as he's growing up, this'll be awesome.

00:07:34   And the default state was terrible,

00:07:37   because I was either, I felt like I was,

00:07:40   I concurrently felt like I was always working

00:07:43   and like I was never working.

00:07:45   Like I was in this weird tension

00:07:46   where I'm always thinking about work,

00:07:48   but I'm also always at home,

00:07:49   and so I'm always thinking about home stuff too,

00:07:51   and it was terrible.

00:07:53   Over the course of the last few years though,

00:07:55   it's like, we've found things that work for me and my family

00:07:59   to be able to be like, okay, yeah, this works.

00:08:01   Like, I feel like I have a good sense of getting work done,

00:08:04   like I'm being productive and useful,

00:08:06   and not just like sitting on the deck drinking martinis,

00:08:10   but I'm also at home when I need to be at home

00:08:13   and my kids understand how that works

00:08:16   and my wife understands how that works

00:08:18   and it seems to be working.

00:08:20   - That's good, yeah, I have a lot to learn from you

00:08:23   because I've been independent since late 2010

00:08:28   and I, so about five years

00:08:32   and I have not found the balance yet.

00:08:35   I kind of oscillate between the former part of what you said

00:08:39   of constantly worrying about work and family stuff

00:08:43   and just not getting enough work done

00:08:45   and then feeling guilty

00:08:46   that I'm not getting enough work done

00:08:47   or feeling regret that I can't do more.

00:08:51   'Cause I have a certain amount of time in the day,

00:08:53   I've decided, which I think we've talked about it

00:08:54   and I'm sure we will,

00:08:55   I've decided that it is not right for me to hire people.

00:08:59   I don't think I would be happier

00:09:02   or necessarily even more productive if I hired people.

00:09:05   Not even to mention the problem of affording them

00:09:07   and then the other issues with hiring somebody.

00:09:11   So I'm limited by what I can do

00:09:14   and so I feel a burden from that of I should work more

00:09:18   or I wish I could work more.

00:09:20   But then when I have periods of working a lot,

00:09:23   I have a lot of trouble turning it off

00:09:24   to go to sleep at night or to go out to dinner or something.

00:09:28   I have a lot of trouble maintaining that balance.

00:09:30   And so usually I err more on the lazy side more recently

00:09:34   of well, I guess I'll be with my family,

00:09:36   I'll help out around the house,

00:09:37   and I'll be present for everybody,

00:09:39   but then I regret not getting more work done.

00:09:42   And I don't know, I mean,

00:09:43   I still have a lot to learn, I think.

00:09:45   - And I think the thing that comes to mind

00:09:47   is I always remember the insight

00:09:49   that I think was most helpful

00:09:50   when I was trying to work this out several years ago

00:09:53   is it's the understanding that my work

00:09:57   can hurt my family life, as well as my family life can hurt my work.

00:10:02   That I remember when I was starting out, it was easy to kind of think about it as almost

00:10:06   like my family life is the thing that would be hurt from working too much, sort of like,

00:10:12   which makes sense in some ways coming from a more corporate environment where kind of

00:10:15   like workaholism is more the typical problem that you would be worried about, where you

00:10:20   work too much and you never see your kids and all this kind of thing.

00:10:23   And I remember when I first started, that was what I was worried about, that my work

00:10:27   was gonna hurt my family.

00:10:28   And then what I found though is it goes the other way

00:10:31   exactly in the same way,

00:10:32   that my family life can also hurt my work.

00:10:35   And it's the understanding that both of these states,

00:10:38   both of these things are undesirable.

00:10:40   I don't want one to hurt the one or one to hurt the other.

00:10:43   That's why we call it work-life balance, I guess.

00:10:46   You're trying to find something in the middle.

00:10:48   And in the end, what I end up finding is

00:10:50   it's like the old saying,

00:10:51   "Good fences make good neighbors."

00:10:54   the best way that I've found to be able to improve

00:10:58   my work-life balance is to build fences

00:11:01   between my work life and my family life,

00:11:04   both physically in terms of where I work,

00:11:06   in terms of my time, in terms of when I work,

00:11:09   and in terms of the things that I do

00:11:11   when I'm in one place versus the other.

00:11:13   And only when I've been able to really split the two in half

00:11:18   have I found it to be at all functional,

00:11:22   because otherwise you always have the guilt on one side

00:11:25   or the guilt on the other,

00:11:26   and it's neither productive nor helpful.

00:11:30   - Yeah, I think that's probably where I have to explore

00:11:33   the fencing off, both physical and scheduling-wise,

00:11:37   because I'm terrible at that.

00:11:39   I work in a home office.

00:11:41   My wife is here with me much of the time.

00:11:43   My kid is here with me much of the time.

00:11:45   He goes to school, but that's not every day,

00:11:47   and that's not all day.

00:11:50   and I work at any hour of the day.

00:11:52   I will work in the morning sometimes,

00:11:54   I'll work at night sometimes,

00:11:56   like it just goes all over the place

00:11:57   and there's really no boundaries to when and where

00:12:01   and how I get work done.

00:12:03   And as a result, it is hard to have long uninterrupted spans

00:12:08   or to not be thinking about work when I'm not at work.

00:12:11   It's hard to maintain this balance.

00:12:13   - And I think the thing that I found most helpful

00:12:16   along those lines is that, as an example,

00:12:19   I end work every day at 5 p.m.

00:12:22   - And you have a martini on the deck.

00:12:24   - And then I go and have a martini on the deck, exactly.

00:12:27   But I found that that one little change

00:12:30   had the biggest impact on my work-life balance.

00:12:33   Before that, it was kind of this squishy, wishy-washy,

00:12:36   like, oh, well, what if I'm in the zone

00:12:38   and I really wanna keep going, or--

00:12:41   - Yep, that's me. - Whatever.

00:12:42   It's like you have this feeling of,

00:12:43   well, it's just, I will work until I'm finished,

00:12:48   type of concept.

00:12:48   And the reality is like, I'm never finished.

00:12:50   There's never like a perfect opportune moment

00:12:53   to be like, yes, I have exactly finished,

00:12:56   tied this function up in a bow,

00:12:58   and now I'm gonna go upstairs and have dinner

00:13:00   and be with my family.

00:13:02   And so we ended up deciding,

00:13:03   and that would drive my wife crazy too,

00:13:04   when it's like, she has no idea when I'm gonna be home,

00:13:07   when I'm gonna, what time we should do dinner,

00:13:08   what time the kids should expect their daddy to be back.

00:13:12   - Yeah, like a three hour window.

00:13:13   Like I wanna be done sometime between five and nine.

00:13:16   Whenever my brain finally turns off.

00:13:18   And so we found it's like, you know what?

00:13:20   I just need to have a regular schedule.

00:13:22   And so I come downstairs, which we'll get to in a minute about workspace, but I come

00:13:26   downstairs to start work, sometimes, like, it's much more squishy, like, sometime between

00:13:31   maybe 8.30 and 9.30, depending on what's going on in the morning, but I always finish

00:13:37   at exactly 5.

00:13:39   And that really helps to be able to say, like, if it's past 5 o'clock, I'm not working,

00:13:45   unless obviously the exceptional situation of some server explodes and I really need

00:13:50   to go and do something. But beyond the extraordinary circumstance, that's what I do. And for me,

00:13:59   that was really helpful to say, "If it's past five, I'm off work. I don't really need

00:14:03   to worry about work, I'll worry about it the next day. And if it's before five, I should

00:14:08   be working." It helps on the other side as well, saying, "If things seem like they're

00:14:12   going a bit tricky with, you know, or like, I just want to be with my family or whatever.

00:14:16   It's like, nope, it's not five o'clock. And I can look forward to it in that sense, and

00:14:20   then once I'm past it, I can say, nope, that's like, that's the firewall against it on the

00:14:24   other side. And having that kind of regular schedule, like, when I'm safe, there's something

00:14:27   magical about five o'clock, like, it could be any time, but having a schedule that when

00:14:31   I'm working, I'm working, and when I'm not, I'm not, has been the only thing, has been

00:14:36   probably the biggest impact in our ability to kind of stay sane around having complete

00:14:41   flexibility about our schedule.

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00:16:50   - So one thing I wanted to extend on a little bit

00:16:52   is sort of the extension of the concept

00:16:54   of having a defined work schedule

00:16:56   that separates your work life and your physical life is that works in some ways, but you also

00:17:03   what I found, it only really works when you're able to physically separate yourself as well

00:17:08   from the place that you go to work and the place that you go to not work. And I've

00:17:14   tried all manner of things to do this. When I first went independent, it was kind of really

00:17:20   -- the house where we lived in didn't really work for this, where it was a split foyer

00:17:25   house and so there are only two levels. And so no matter what, there was always something

00:17:30   that wasn't my office next door to me, no matter where I went in the house. And for

00:17:36   a while, I actually got office space outside of my house so that I could do this. Even

00:17:40   though I could work from home, I found a teeny little office down the road from where I live

00:17:45   and I'd go there. And now, thankfully, we've changed houses and I have a place that's like,

00:17:51   I'm in this office way off in the corner in the basement that there's nothing else around.

00:17:56   But what I found is if I don't have a separate place to go, like if I'm working in my bedroom

00:18:02   or at the kitchen table or something like that, it's so hard to keep your mind focused

00:18:11   on the thing that you're supposed to be focused on.

00:18:14   And it's one of the things that I think if I give advice to somebody who is starting

00:18:19   out, working from home, going independent, becoming a consultant, any of these things.

00:18:24   Find a place somewhere in your house that you only use for work.

00:18:28   Because when you're there, it's like, "Okay, I'm here, it's all set up exactly how I like

00:18:33   it for working, and I'm working."

00:18:36   And when I leave, I don't come back here unless I'm working.

00:18:40   It's like I don't sit here and go through the family pictures and organize them into

00:18:43   albums on my work computer.

00:18:45   I do that on another place.

00:18:48   other things that I need to do aren't done at my workstation. My workstation is for working.

00:18:54   And that helps both me to be focused and also if you have children or other people in your

00:19:00   house who are going to want your attention, it means that you can find—it sort of has

00:19:05   this great benefit of being able to say, like, "No, no, it's like he's in his—it's

00:19:09   like Daddy's in the office. Don't bother him." And, you know, obviously there's

00:19:12   exceptions to that. If something awesome and cool is going on in the house that I really

00:19:15   want to know about and I should know about. It's awesome that I'm available and here to

00:19:19   see it. But by and large, it's very easy to have that obvious visual separation. It's

00:19:26   like, "Nope, he's not here. He's at work." And then I come home. And my wife and I always

00:19:31   joke about this too, because we'll actually use the terms like "Are you home?" Like if

00:19:36   I go upstairs at four o'clock to get a snack or something, it's like, "Are you home or

00:19:42   are you not?" And it's like, "Actually, I'm not home yet," even though obviously I'm standing

00:19:48   in the kitchen in my home. But it's like, "Nope, I'm actually not home, I just needed

00:19:51   to grab something," and then I go back to work. It's as though I've left. I've gotten

00:19:56   in a car, my commute, rather than getting in a car and driving down the road now, is

00:20:00   walking down the stairs, but I still have one. There's still something separate physically

00:20:05   between my work and my not-work.

00:20:07   That's really good. I like that a lot.

00:20:09   So you've just got to find a place in your house that you can do that.

00:20:12   Yeah, well, in our unfinished basement, maybe, or our hot attic. That should be good.

00:20:16   That'd be perfect.

00:20:17   Well, I'll figure something out. I'll just put up a giant screen in the middle of the

00:20:22   room that I work in.

00:20:23   Yeah. And obviously, yeah, everyone's houses are different, and so whether exactly how

00:20:28   much you can do that and how practical it is to do it. But it's just one of those things

00:20:33   that it's all about trying to make it like make a clear line between when you're working

00:20:38   hanging when you're not working.

00:20:39   And so the more that you can make the place that you work

00:20:42   a place that only is a place that you work,

00:20:45   the better that will be.

00:20:46   And it's like trying to do weird,

00:20:48   I mean, sometimes it is, feels a bit silly,

00:20:50   but it's what I try and do.

00:20:53   We have an upstairs office that we do

00:20:54   other homework things with,

00:20:57   rather than doing them in the same place

00:20:59   that I do regular work, which works for us

00:21:02   'cause we have two rooms that we can do that with.

00:21:05   but even if you don't have the exact space,

00:21:08   it's just kind of something to be aware of.

00:21:10   - Yeah, definitely.

00:21:11   - And the other thing that I think is helpful

00:21:14   to think about with work-life balance,

00:21:16   like taking a step back.

00:21:16   So things like making good boundaries physically

00:21:19   between your work in terms of your daily schedule,

00:21:22   in terms of your workspace, are helpful,

00:21:25   but there are also things that are kind of,

00:21:27   like they're the tactical day in, day out

00:21:30   kind of things that you can do.

00:21:31   But if you really wanna have a good work-life balance,

00:21:34   I think you also have to take the step back

00:21:36   and look at it and say,

00:21:38   what are the things that are constraining my ability

00:21:41   to have a good work-life balance?

00:21:43   And I think about,

00:21:45   making sure I'm making conscious choices about those things.

00:21:48   One thing I always remember is,

00:21:49   when I used to do consulting,

00:21:50   and this probably applies mostly to consulting,

00:21:52   but applies to a lot of things,

00:21:54   is when I'd start out,

00:21:56   I would check my work email all the day, all the time.

00:22:01   Essentially, if I'm awake,

00:22:02   I'll probably have checked my email in the last 20 minutes.

00:22:06   And I would respond to clients who'd email me something

00:22:11   whenever I saw it.

00:22:12   They would send me an email,

00:22:13   "Hey, did you get a chance to check this thing out

00:22:15   "or fix this thing?"

00:22:16   And I'd respond.

00:22:18   And I'd do it on the weekend, late at night,

00:22:20   early in the morning.

00:22:21   If you know, first thing when I wake up,

00:22:22   I'd pick up my phone and I'd respond.

00:22:24   And what I realized though is that I'm setting

00:22:27   horrible expectations for my clients

00:22:30   Because now, as soon as you do it once, they'll expect you to always do it.

00:22:36   And if you don't, that can become weird, strangely problematic, where they're like,

00:22:40   "Oh, I emailed you and you didn't respond."

00:22:42   It's like, "Yeah, you emailed me at 8 o'clock on a Friday.

00:22:46   I didn't respond because I'm not working."

00:22:49   But if you don't actually follow through with that, you have this terrible boundary

00:22:53   problem.

00:22:54   And you're making these commitments that you may not consciously be making to being

00:22:59   available at times that you really shouldn't be available.

00:23:03   And that might also make certain people not able to work with you. And I think you have

00:23:10   to choose that. When you're choosing what you're working on, the people you choose to

00:23:14   work for or with matter just as much as anything else you're deciding, because certain employers

00:23:21   will want you to be a workaholic and will want you to be 24/7 on call for email. Even

00:23:26   even if they don't technically say that,

00:23:27   that will be what they expect,

00:23:29   and it'll look bad if you don't do that.

00:23:32   Whereas other employers or clients

00:23:34   are more healthy themselves with their work-life balance,

00:23:37   and they will be okay if you don't answer

00:23:41   a Friday night email until Monday morning.

00:23:45   And it's important if you can find those people

00:23:47   and choose to work with them,

00:23:49   and it really matters a lot who you work for

00:23:52   or who your clients are.

00:23:53   And then in addition to it mattering who they are, it's like that you have to decide these

00:23:59   things.

00:24:00   It feels silly at first.

00:24:02   I remember the first time I realized I was doing this, and I would hit reply and start

00:24:10   composing an email back, and then I'm like, "Wait, it's nine o'clock on a Friday.

00:24:13   I should not do this."

00:24:15   And sometimes I'd write it out, but just leave it in drafts, and at 9 a.m. on Monday

00:24:20   morning I'd just go into my draft and I'd sit there and send them all, which was like

00:24:27   a baby step towards not actually checking it in the first place.

00:24:31   But given the illusion of health.

00:24:33   Yeah, exactly.

00:24:34   But at least the very least I was setting their expectation that I wasn't available.

00:24:39   I always remember also with consulting you'd have these weird things where you start having

00:24:43   email conversations back and forth with your client at strange hours because you send them

00:24:48   them something and then they are sitting at their computer too having poor work-life balance

00:24:52   and they're responding back.

00:24:53   As you go back and forth, and it's like you're having this conversation at a time when you

00:24:58   would never schedule a call with your client at that time.

00:25:01   You'd never think like, "Oh, this is like 10 o'clock on the weekend?

00:25:04   This is a perfect time for us to have a chat."

00:25:06   But it's like this little trap that just sucks you in, and then you have to work really hard

00:25:13   to break that pattern and get out of that cycle.

00:25:16   And then lastly, the other last sort of like taking a step back thing that I think you

00:25:21   can do to improve your work-life balance is to look at your business and see if there

00:25:29   are places that you can reduce the degree to which your revenue is directly tied to

00:25:35   your time, which in some ways is maybe an obvious thing to say.

00:25:38   Like if you can make money without doing anything, that's better.

00:25:42   This is the promise of like every back page ad in a crappy magazine.

00:25:45   money while you sleep.

00:25:46   - Exactly.

00:25:48   But in a not sketchy way,

00:25:50   looking at your business and saying,

00:25:52   the biggest things that are gonna get in the way

00:25:55   of you having a productive work-life balance

00:25:58   are things where you don't have control,

00:26:00   like you don't have the control over your time

00:26:03   in the same way.

00:26:04   If you have a perfectly

00:26:06   split between your time and your money,

00:26:11   then you can choose exactly how you want your day to go,

00:26:15   because your time isn't the thing that you're selling.

00:26:17   That isn't the important thing.

00:26:19   So if you look at a business, I think conceptually,

00:26:23   most businesses kind of fall into two categories.

00:26:25   There's kind of like prepaid work, things like consulting,

00:26:29   or even this podcast where we get

00:26:31   paid by a sponsor for the episode.

00:26:34   But we have to make the episode, and then once we've made it,

00:26:37   we get no more benefit from it, to things

00:26:40   that are kind of like postpaid, so like a product

00:26:42   or a subscription, or if you have a retainer in consulting,

00:26:46   like those types of things, where you're making money

00:26:47   without you having to do something directly.

00:26:51   Usually it's because you've done something else in the past,

00:26:53   but in the present, you're kind of living off the interest

00:26:57   from the past things.

00:27:00   And this was something that was the big,

00:27:03   like when I made the shift from consulting to products,

00:27:08   which is now what I do, almost 100% essentially,

00:27:11   of my income is from products, is I wanted to do it because I felt like if I didn't,

00:27:18   I wouldn't have control over my time, because I was always going to be beholden to somebody

00:27:23   else. And so I had to look at my business and say, "You know what? If I can do this,

00:27:27   if I can keep pulling, even if it's just 20% of my business is coming from something other

00:27:34   than my time, I'm going to be able to make my work-life balance 20% better, or at least

00:27:39   the opportunity to make it 20% better.

00:27:42   If I don't follow through at that point, that's on me.

00:27:45   If I, at this point, have complete control over my time and I have a bad work-life balance,

00:27:50   there's no one to blame but myself.

00:27:51   I can't blame my boss, I can't blame my clients, I can only blame me.

00:27:55   But on the flip side, I have the ability to control that.

00:27:59   So looking at your business or looking at the way that you're structuring how you work

00:28:03   such that you can break those ties is sort of like the little catalyst that allows you

00:28:08   you to make any of the changes that we've talked about

00:28:12   in this episode, because if you don't have that control,

00:28:15   then you can't change anything in the first, you know,

00:28:18   anyway, and so you're kind of stuck.

00:28:20   - Yeah, I think that separating your income

00:28:24   and your business health from your time spent

00:28:27   is obviously, like, that is the holy grail,

00:28:29   but it isn't that unachievable.

00:28:30   Like, it's actually very doable, and it might take a while,

00:28:34   and it might not be 100% of your income

00:28:36   being separated out that way

00:28:37   and being independent of your time.

00:28:39   And you do have to still work on it occasionally.

00:28:42   You can't neglect things forever,

00:28:44   but anything that you can do to build up

00:28:47   a back catalog of things that pay you

00:28:49   or build up recurring revenue streams

00:28:51   or things that are decoupled at all,

00:28:54   you will benefit from significantly.

00:28:56   - Exactly, and it took me four and a half, five years

00:28:59   to be able to stop doing consulting.

00:29:02   But it was a conscious choice

00:29:04   that this is where I'm heading.

00:29:06   I'm pointing my business in this direction,

00:29:08   and that's what I, because at the end of it,

00:29:10   I like the result, and so that made the work

00:29:12   to get there worthwhile.

00:29:14   - Excellent.

00:29:15   All right, thank you for listening, everybody,

00:29:17   and that's all the time we have,

00:29:19   so we will talk to you next week.

00:29:21   - Bye.

00:29:22   [ Silence ]