April 8, 2019

How do you balance your startup with your family/personal life?

Admittedly, this is a question people often ask me!

Being a mother to 5, whilst home educating (unschooling), I created a '7 figure' indie business.

The key for me was building the business around me.

For example:

  • I did conferences/events in the city I lived in.
  • I just said no to work I couldn't or didn't want to do
  • I wasn't under pressure to earn money in the early days (my other half provided enough), I had the freedom to explore
  • I only committed to work I knew I could deliver, online and in my own good time.
  • I made a commitment to run about 5 years ago, I still keep that habit up for my own mental and physical health.

I sucked at getting child care help, I may only just be getting that right 7 years later :|

How do you balance your life?

#ask-ih

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    Being a mother to 5, whilst home educating (unschooling), I created a '7 figure' indie business.

    Wow! When is @csallen gonna interview you on the podcast??

    I've always struggled with the short-term balance of work and life. I've only achieved balance in that after being all consumed by work for years, I've done a couple of year+ sabbatical/vacation/learning phases where I've had a great personal and social life. Then I get the madness again and it's all work, work, work.

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      Well, technically @csallen is my boss atm, some of the time at least, haha.

      There's still so much I'd like to improve and do. Mostly it evolves around reading/learning, eating better, sleeping better and exercising more. I'm far, so far, from perfect. I still prioritise work over other stuff, but it's hard when I actually do enjoy the stuff I do.

      I think I've become very good at managing my time. I take one of my boys to gymnastics for a 1.5 session twice a week. Sometimes I go for a run during that time. Other times I work. I can't bear to just not do something productive with my time.

      The changing point for me was when I started delegating and hiring. My business was really profitable at one point, but I was dealing with most of the things, it was a bad place to be. It's taken me 3 years to get out of that. Literally teaching people one thing at a time, then letting go of that responsibility once they feel able to do so.

      Since that point 3 years ago, our team grew to 10 people and our revenue increased 3-4 times over and I only spend a few hours a week with it now.

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        Very interesting. If you've got a text interview up about it, I'll totally read that. I guess @joelhooks also mentioned homeschooling large numbers of kids, too. It's definitely amazing you got a business built at the same time and glad to hear things are in better balance now!

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    Hey Rosie!

    So, I have an answer and a question.

    I mostly balance my work by doing sprints and by making sure I have dedicated time every day for family.

    I'll typically do a code/feature sprint for a week, and then take two to three weeks to write content and do marketing more casually.

    Evenings are family time, but during a sprint week I'll stay up after family time to code (or, get up at the crack of dawn for a few hours).

    My question is, what age were your kids when you started your business? My wife has been interested in growing a blog and Instagram but she's had a hard time having any time to do work (between cleaning and taking care of the kids).

    She stays home with our 3 and 1 year olds. They're a bit dependent at this point, so she feels her time is better spent with them until they get older and depend less on her.

    How did you balance things when you started? Did your other half end up watching the kids more?

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      Mostly I spent my free time working on the business, this was typically evenings and then during the day if they were sleeping.

      When my middle child was around 3/4, I dragged my husband into the business with me and we committed to share kid responsibilities equally. We literally took turns on kid duty. And only recently got some extra hands on help (a nanny).

      Some of my kids are still young, they are currently: 1, 4, 7, 14, 15.

      Perhaps you can adjust your schedule to watch the kids, put them to bed, etc to give her a block of time a few times a week? It's so important for men/partners to support mothers, it's really hard raising kids, and we often lose our own identities and priorities along the way.

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        Thanks! For-sure, every evening is my chance to take over the kids. Yes, the time blocking definitely works. Might just need to be communicated more effectively. I have a full-time job and the side project so I definitely can get consumed with work.

        That makes sense that when the middle child was 3/4 you would go all in. Probably out of diapers, can mostly play by themselves or with older siblings. Unless you have a nanny (like you do now) with younger kids it's a full-time gig in and of itself.

        Thanks for the insight! I'll work harder to block of some time and let her batch some work.

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          Blocking out time will help. A lot can be done in regular slots of 2 hours, imho. Having you nudge and encourage her will motivate her.

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    It may sound a bit stupid, but I just stick to using a calendar for work related things (non-related work things rarely go into my calendar), and try my best not to go over the hours I set in my calendar.

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      That's what I do, and that's why I'm building a todo list + calendar combo to help me keep track of things: https://getartemis.app. Shameless plug but yeah it seems to help me.

  4. 2

    I'm actually terrible at having any sort of balance. I'm a fairly obsessive person, and I'm overly ambitious so I overbook myself pretty much every day. I rarely ever finish my daily task list, so it's hard to ever feel good about pulling myself away from work at the end of the day.

    Do you use a task list, @rosiesherry? If not, how do you keep track of what you need to do? If so, how do you avoid overestimating what you can get done in a day?

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      And just to add to this. I think being an indie hacker can be amazing for work life balance. I would often give myself a hard time for not having a 'balance', but if I had a proper job I know I would be much worse off. At least as an indie hacker we can design our lives as we wish.

    2. 1

      Never used a task list, tried and failed on that consistently :|

      I find important things rise to the top, not always the best way of dealing with things admittedly. But also, whilst it can be useful to have things to remind us to do things, there is the idea that if you can't manage most things from memory, then maybe there is too much on your plate.

      These days I use a mixture of Notion and Trello to remind me of things to do. And I've long avoided scheduled meetings.

      I do have a bad habit of staying up too late, virtually every single night. I need to stop doing that.

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        I do have a bad habit of staying up too late, virtually every single night.

        Same here! It really wrecks my next day. I miss the times when I could regularly stay up late and it was fine.

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    Great thread, Rosie! As a fellow parent, I feel like I'm in the minority within this community, so I always love to see conversation around "entrepreneurship as a parent."

    Personally, I try to keep the vast majority of my work-related activities between 7 am and 4 pm. I'll occasionally (1x month at most) go to a conference or evening meetup. Weekends are for my family.

    With this being said, I've had a few failed side projects and not yet a successful one! But, I also have two beautiful kids and an amazing wife, so I'm definitely successful at life.

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      Definite 'yay' to beautiful kids and wife, treasure them always!

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    My main strategy: compartmentalize.

    • I time-box work and have rigid boundaries around "home time"

    • I aggressively separate my work mind-space from my home mind-space

    Context: I started a barely successful company with a co-founder when my first child was barely 3 months old. My wife was taking care of the baby first, then we hired childcare help, then transitioned to kindergarten+afterschool and so on.

    I leave work at a certain time every day, and block off the evening for family. Sometimes I work on "work stuff" after dinner+cleanup, but mostly on side projects.

    The one very important thing that I learned over the years is this: never think about work while playing with kids. I'd get into these really negative situations where I'd be absentmindedly playing on the floor with my kid, thinking about work, and the kid would need attention, and I'd get subconsciously angry at them for interrupting my thoughts. All I wanted to do in that moment is to solve the problem that I was thinking of because it seemed more "intellectually engaging" somehow, which is b.s. Same with listening to work-related podcasts (which I used to do a ton of) while playing with kids. It took me a looooong time to figure this out. AT WORK, DO WORK. AT HOME, DO HOME.

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      Yes, when with kids, I try to be with fully with the kids. Emphasis on 'try' :|

      I don't think social media and mobile technology has helped with this. I get a bit sad about it sometimes as my mind can be elsewhere, but I've also learned to not give myself a hard time as we do spend a lot of time together as a family. We haven't particularly made it easy for ourselves!

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    Honestly, I don't (at least not very well).

    :(

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