Here it is, 1:06 AM on a Friday night... and I'm still doing business stuff (well, technically, meta-business stuff here with OnStartups). I have a feeling that I probably should have went to bed with the wife an hour ago when she asked... but I didn't, and I constantly make decisions like this. And as expected, it tends to create downstream problems.
What do you do to balance the work-family life? What tips and tricks have you found helpful to peel yourself away? Do you ever really stop thinking about business?
You admit that your obsession is creating problems with your family. If you were creating problems with your business would you just let that happen? No, you'd probably do something about it.
You can still work long hours but it's not unreasonable for a wife to ask you to come to bed on a Friday night. Oh, what a burden to go to bed with your wife! Do you realize how that sounds? Also, working on business that needs to get done now and working on "meta business" that can wait are two different things. Don't confuse the two.
You will need your family's support to succeed. Agree on a work schedule with your family and stick to it. (As in not working on Friday nights but you can work Saturday morning all you want.) That doesn't mean you can't work a lot. Just define expectations so you're both on the same page.
I have a wife and three kids (4,2,1 that is what happens when you work from home) I would say that I could do a better job and balancing work and family but I do the following things
(This is a reaction to some of the responses, more so than to the question itself.)
If you are so obsessed with your business that you have no time for your spouse and children, then, forgive me, but you have a problem that needs to be addressed. If the situation lasts only briefly, or pops up intermittently, that's normal; however, if "obsessed with work" is your normal mode, then you risk losing the people you love.
There is another dimension here as well. As an employee, I would not want to work for anybody who was willing to give up his family for his business. I want to work for an individual whose priorities I admire and share, not somebody I fear is going to expect me to make the same sacrifice he has made. So, in the end, your obsession can also hurt your business, as you alienate your employees even as you disengage from your family.
I'm not immune to this challenge; none of us are. But as human beings, and as "people-centered leaders," we owe it to ourselves and to our employees to keep our priorities straight. Starting a new business is hard. Starting a new family is much harder.
It's an obsession. No other way to say it.
There's a quote (I don't know the origin): "Sleep is that time when you work on your business while being unconscious."
LOL - and you are asking other entrepreneurs like me who would answer your question at 1:11 am?
Shotokan Karate is my best escape. I'll find myself thinking about business in the inital meditation, but by the time a class is done my mind has been wiped clean ... fully ready for another major business session! (But even in Karate I tend to be a bit obsessive ... must be an entrepreneurial character trait!)
I use a Task manager application on my iPhone. I add some business tasks like meetings, new product ideas. Some personal goals like reading, listening to audiobooks, working out. Then some family goals like going on day trips, dinners our etc.
The real goal is just to remind me to balance my life.
It depends on the situation. If your wise knew that you are an entrepreneur when you got married, then she made a concise choice (for better or for worst). That being said, you want to make sure you don't loose her or miss out on your children growing up.
As long as you keep your promises (don't miss any birthdays or anniversaries) and you keep her informed about your plans in advanced, you should be fine. Make sure that you set aside some quality time with her, and the rest of the time is yours to use (you can meet friends or watch a game on TV, or you can work on your own time)
The most important thing is to have a personal vision. Write down in detail what you expect from running your business. Probably financial security i one thing, but what do you want your family life to be? Your influence on your children? Your relationships? What about personal development? Community or social causes? If you clearly think through what you are seeking from your life, balance becomes fairly simple. The priorities are plain.