Work-Life Integration, Not Work-Life Balance

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The idea of work-life balance has been on my mind for the better part of the last 6 years.

Why 6 years? Well, my wife and I got married 6 years ago. That’s when we started to think about kids and more specifically when I started to ask myself how I could be a great father while also running a business (BigCommerce) which at the time had over 200 employees (450+ today).

Fast forward to 2016 and we have two beautiful little girls aged 3 years and 6 months old. I’m running 3 companies and also advise and have invested in another 15 companies.

And I found that work-life balance isn’t the goal, but instead it’s all about work-life integration. Let me explain.

Work-life balance seems to revolve around the idea that you “balance” your time between your business (or job) and your family/friends/etc. You carve out dedicated time for work then dedicated time for family, typically working in the day and family at night.

While that’s great in theory, if you’re a passionate entrepreneur, your business will ALWAYS DEMAND A NEVER-ENDING AMOUNT OF YOUR TIME. In other words, you’re never “done” with your business.

So if you’re never done with your business, then the idea of work-life balance doesn’t apply — unless you want to build a lifestyle business (which is completely fine, by the way. Do what makes you happy).

If you want to build something important that impacts a lot of people and makes a difference, work-life integration is a better approach. At least based on my experience.

How do you do it? Here are a few things that have worked for me:

  • Schedule your important family events in your calendar. As recurring events that are always there every week, month, etc.
  • Treat those personal events in your calendar the same way you would a meeting with a client or employee, i.e. you can’t delete them, you need to turn up on time and they are non-negotiable.
  • Mix up your day with a combo of work and personal activities such as meetings, thinking time, planning, creative work, gym, kids events, date night, etc.
  • Don’t confine yourself to rules around “work time” and “personal time”. For example, start every day at 7am and end at 10pm, but as above, mix in work and personal events.
  • Explain the idea of work-life integration to your partner and kids and ask them to respect the time when you’re working — because you’ve made your best effort to allocate enough time for them as a result of your new style of doing things, they should never feel neglected or left out.
  • Take your kids to work events where possible — you get time with them, they can see what you do and you can teach them about your industry.
  • Do this for 30 days then step back and assess what’s working, what’s not and why — and then tweak and optimize until you’re happy with it.

Caveat: This applies to entrepreneurs and freelancers/contractors running their own companies only. I understand that as an employee you may not be able to control your time like I’ve outlined above.

It works and it’s simple — and that’s why it’s sustainable. Try it out and let me know how you go. But forget the idea of work-life balance and integrate them instead.

Want me to personally help accelerate the growth of your business, based on my experience building 7 companies ($200M in total sales)? If so, click here to learn more and see if you qualify.

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About Mitchell Harper

Mitch is a 7x company founder, advisor and investor. He is best known as the co-founder of BigCommerce. His companies have generated over $200,000,000 in total revenue and he is currently building an online education company and a SaaS company.

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