Passion Versus Work-Life Balance: A Day In The Life Of An Entrepreneur
Three years into my entrepreneurial journey as a co-founder of ChefXChange, an online destination for culinary experiences, I have been asked countless times if there is such a thing as work-life balance for an entrepreneur. This prompted me to ask myself that same question repeatedly.
Those who know me, including my team members, investors, friends and family, would answer without any hesitation “No.” At the expense of killing the suspense and you not continuing reading my post, I will answer by simply saying that the question itself is formulated incorrectly- what you should ask yourself or your entrepreneurial friends is, “Are you passionate about what you are doing?” If you get “Yes” as an answer, your/their journey is your/their life’s work, and you should support them in it.
In this post, I would like to share what my usual day looks like as well as a few tips on how to make sure you will last in what is going to be a marathon and not a sprint.
A day in my life
My days start early, waking up by 6:30am (it’s worth noting I do not drink caffeine), checking my emails and then heading to the gym or outdoors for a 45-minute workout. I then start my working day at 8:30am, catching up on urgent transactional tasks and anything administrative that needs to be done. After that, I connect with the members of my team, and start handling the day-to-day. When in the office, I will cook my own lunch, which gives me a 30-minute lunch break to resource myself. I usually schedule my meetings in the afternoon, and by 6:30pm, when most of the team and the outside world leaves the office, I actually hit the peak of my productivity with no interruptions. I usually spend the next three hours or so working on more strategic topics, connecting with my co-founder, doing market research, and so on. My days ends by 10pm, leaving me an hour to disconnect –watch a movie or TV series, read the news– before going to bed by 11pm.
In a nutshell, there are four habits of mine that I recommend to each and every one of you to follow in order to be at your personal peaks for as long as possible.
There is no “right” amount of sleep and each one of us has different needs, but one thing’s for sure- sleep deprivation prevents our immune system from building up its forces and leads to chronic illnesses. A minimum of six hours and a maximum of eight hours is recommended. Additionally, you need to make sure you keep the same rhythm and sleeping pattern, meaning set a time when you need to go to bed and when you need to wake up throughout the week and stick to it. Once that discipline is set, you won’t need an alarm to wake you up and your biological clock will take care of the rest.
In our modern life, we now spend an average of 10 hours sitting at a desk or couch and staring at a computer screen or TV. This is leading to the biggest health problems in human history: back pain and obesity. Also, since we have evolved from a hunting to a farming society we barely move on an average day compared to our grandparents or even our parents did. It is primordial for your brain -and, most importantly, for your body- to exercise daily, 30 to 45 minutes a day, no matter the time of day. When you exercise, your body releases several different chemicals in your brain (neurotransmitters), making you more productive. I prefer the mornings to get my blood flowing and hit the ground running at work. I would strongly recommend reading “The 4-Hour Body” by Tim Ferriss.
In a day and age where junk food (and health enemy number one- sugar) are available at the tip of a finger with apps, such as Deliveroo or UberEats, and on every supermarket shelves, it is very easy to succumb to the temptation and eat this food (I shouldn’t even call them that) since it gives you immediate satisfaction and fill you up, especially when having a stressful day. This will lead to an insulin spike and huge crash of your immune system, making you feel tired and shutting down your brain. Instead, and whenever possible, take this time to feed and resource yourself with nutritious and fresh ingredients. Ideally, cook for yourself (the evening before) or get home cooked food. This is also one of the reasons why we at ChefXChange launched our home cooked meal delivery service to help busy people eat hearty and homey meals in the office.
Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs
We often hear “you are who you frequent.” I can assure you that these days my immediate circle is very different from my banking days in terms of who I hang out with and where. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people will help you in many ways: getting advice, learning from others’ success and failures, good sparing partners, and most importantly they “get” you. You are all in the same boat and you won’t have to justify why you don’t have time to call or see them often. I always make it a point to meet once a month with some fellow entrepreneurs when we exchange tips and learnings.
Karl Naim is the co-founder and CEO at ChefXchange. He has an extensive international background in finance, spanning from wealth management, asset management and private equity with UBS AG, Goldman Sachs, and Mubadala Development Company. He also is an avid angel investor and a mentor to startups. Naim received an MBA from the London Business School and a MSc in Economics & Finance from the Warwick Business School. In his free time, he can be found working out or cooking a storm in the kitchen.