I recently came across a statistic from Fast Company magazine that really surprised me. According to the American Sociological review, over 70% of employees in the United States struggle with finding a balance of work and play.
70%!?!! Does this number sound a bit high to you?
When I look at my life, I find myself having quite a bit of free time on my hands outside of work so it’s a little difficult for me to relate to this number.
In fact, many of my readers often ask me how I manage to juggle working full time as a hardware engineering director, running an ecommerce store, a blog, a podcast and an online course while caring for 2 kids.
Anyway if you are curious, here’s what my typical week looks like.
Monday through Thursday I work at my full time job from 9-5pm – Earlier this year, I went down to 4 days a week at my engineering job in a conscious effort to cut back. Because my kids require so much work and energy, my wife and I were having problems finding the time to have 1 on 1 dates. So by going down to working 4 days a week, we now have 1 free day to spend together as a couple.
Sunday nights, I write a blog post for MyWifeQuitHerJob.com – Writing used to take me forever and I still dislike doing it. But I’ve gotten the process down to the point where it takes me about 2 hours to write a 1000 word post.
Wednesday night, I hold a live webinar for the students in my online store course – I actually look forward to these nights because it’s the best way for me to get to know the students in my class.
Friday morning, I work for about 2-3 hours on making forward progress – Basically, Friday is devoted to working on whatever task is necessary to grow my businesses. Afternoons are usually spent with my wife.
During random times of the week, I interview various entrepreneurs for my podcast – My podcast is actually the most stressful part of my business because I have to accommodate my guests’ crazy schedules. Sometimes, I have to drive all the way back home from work for a 1 hour interview in the middle of the day and drive back. But overall, the benefits are totally worth it.
Finally, I probably spend 3-5 hours every week answering emails and doing miscellaneous tasks.
All told, I spend roughly 10-13 hours a week on my businesses and 32 hours per week at my day job.
Also, I try to devote all weekends for the family and usually have Thursday and Friday nights completely off.
Now one could argue that I’m blessed to have such an incredibly awesome and flexible day job in order to facilitate this lifestyle. And it’s true!
I’m definitely lucky but a lot of my decisions over the years have been made to specifically craft the current lifestyle that I live.
And today, my day job represents a small fraction of my household income so I could leave at any time.
Here are some tips if you want to do the same.
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Decide On Your Priorities
Most of the people I know who work themselves to the bone and complain about work/life balance often don’t have their priorities straight.
From the very beginning, my primary objective for both my day job and my various businesses was to free up additional time. And it starts with choosing the right day job.
Should you take the job that pays 50% more but requires you to work 80 hours a week? Or do you take the lesser paying job that allows you to work only 40 hours. Can you cut costs and get by on a lower salary? How much is free time worth to you?
Now admittedly, not everyone has the luxury of choosing a comfortable day job, but I’ve found that most people tend to chase the money rather than the lifestyle. And it’s a slippery slope.
Once you start making more, you start craving more and more money. Every single raise that you get is quickly forgotten and you start seeking more responsibility and higher pay! Pretty soon, you are working your butt off.
The one key for me to get over this hump was realizing that climbing the corporate ladder at my day job was not going to lead to freedom.
With your own business, you can easily make more money working less hours by leveraging computers and technology to do the heavy lifting for you.
Once I realized this fact, I start making very deliberate decisions to focus my time on my own income generating opportunities.
Periodically Re-evaluate Your Goals
Once you have your priorities straight, it’s important to revisit them from time to time.
Several years back, there was a time when my wife and I got so caught up in trying to grow our businesses quickly, that we started neglecting other more important areas of our lives.
We started changing up our schedules to grow our company as opposed to the other way around and we found ourselves getting burned out.
In fact at one point things got so bad that we were fighting constantly and took a break from our businesses to talk about it. And you know what?
We quickly realized that we were already making more money than we could spend and that we needed to re-visit our priorities.
Let’s be realistic here.
My wife and I are inherently frugal people. We’re not showy. We don’t buy expensive things. And we both spend wayyy less than we make.
So why are we busting our asses trying to eek out every last dollar from our business?
What’s the point of sacrificing our livelihood to grow something that will cause us to work more instead of less for something that we don’t really need with our current lifestyle?
Every time things get out of hand, we now make a conscious effort to remember what we need out of life. By now we have a pretty good idea of what makes us happy and we work towards it.
Block Off Time For Your Family And Friends
As I mentioned before, weekends are reserved for family and friends and there are very few exceptions to this rule.
Right now, weekends are the only days where I get to spend large chunks of time with the kiddos and I don’t want to be one of those parents that rarely hangs out with their children.
Aside from hanging out together as a family, it’s also very important for me to spend 1 on 1 time with my wife. In fact, this is one of the many reasons that I decided to go down to 4 days a week at my day job this year.
Ever since we had our first child, EVERYTHING has been about the kids.
Did you feed them? Did you bathe them? Did you make sure they did their homework? Did you schedule their dentist appointment? Did you remember to sign them up for piano?
Up until last year, having kids was all about self sacrifice and it was starting to take its toll on our psyche.
So every Friday, my wife and I have a private lunch at a nice restaurant and then spend the afternoon together. And let me tell you, these Friday afternoon dates were just what our relationship needed!
Say No To Everything That Detracts From Your Goals
I’m not very good at many things, but one thing I am good at is prioritizing my day and dropping unnecessary tasks on the floor.
In fact, this one aspect of my personality tends to annoy my wife to no end! Here’s what our conversations are sometimes like.
Wife: Can you throw away your old clothes? I swear you’ve had some of this stuff since college.
Me: I’ve had them since high school actually. And I’m waiting for everything to come back in style again:P
Wife: Well the closet is overflowing right now. Please clean it up today!
Me: What? No! Why would I do that today?
Wife: Because this is on my task list and I want to check it off the list
Me: What is the relative priority of this task compared to …(This is where I read off a long list of things on my plate) Did you not want me to work on math homework with my daughter? Did you not want me to attend my son’s performance?
Now I’m not saying that you should say no to your wife because that could have negative consequences in your life, but you need to be able to put off anything that detracts from your more important objectives.
(Honey if you are reading this, cleaning out the closet is very important to me but just not right this moment:))
Be laser focused towards designing the lifestyle that you want. Because as soon as you start committing yourself to random activities, it becomes a slippery slope.
Define Your Time And Stop Wasting It
Achieving work life balance is also about personal perception. So if you can be more efficient with your time, then you will have more of it.
One thing that helps my productivity is planning out and setting aside blocks of time for certain tasks. When I don’t do this, I tend to waste time watching You Tube or browsing Facebook.
By providing a little more structure to my activities, I find myself completing my tasks at a much faster rate and can fully relax during the unslotted blocks of time on my calendar.
I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my lifestyle and how I handle all of the various activities on my plate. But I do have one confession to make.
Ever since I’ve had my kids, I still have not figured out the concept of kid/life balance. If you look at my schedule , all day Saturday and most of Sunday is fully devoted to kids activities.
And even during the week, they sometimes have activities or homework to do which require my attention!
If someone has a system for not letting the kiddos consume your life, I’d love to hear it in the comments below:)
photo credit: 101_2480 checkup 1997 China – Great Wall
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.
24 thoughts on “How I Achieve Work Life Balance Despite Working Full Time, Running 3 Businesses And Caring For 2 Kids”
I work from home as a web designer and blogger, so my schedule is pretty lax. Mu priority is my daughter and then husband (in this order), so most of the day I take care of our 1 year old and help around the house. I do the cooking most of the time as well, while husband does the cleaning. We are a team and try to support each other as much as possible.
I try to work on my business and blogs during my daughter’s 1-2 hours nap (if I’m not cooking) and 2-3 hours at night, after she sleeps.
It doesn’t always happen like this, if she gets sick and I need to stay by her side even more than I already do, but it can be done.
Of course business has slowed down a little, as I cannot work 8-10 hours/day anymore, but we’re still doing OK money wise and spending time with our kid is absolutely important.
In about 2 years she’ll go to kindergarten, so I’ll be able to work even more, but now, focusing better and trying to get better paying jobs for less working hours is what keeps the business up and running.
Steve- I’ve always been impressed with the amount of work you get done, while holding a full-time job. This post sheds some light on your superpowers. Apparently you are not a superman, just very efficient 🙂
And Podcasts are the most stressful part of my week too.
Thanks for the post!
I’ve bookmarked this post….definitely need to re-read this once a month.
You’re the man Steve
I still think you’re superhuman and still wayyy beyond what I’m currently capable of…
I am curious, though, what kinds of systems you have in place to take care of all those daily parts of running a business – the things that take a lot of time like shipping, organizing/managing inventory, bookkeeping. Did you hire people to help you with all of these?
Man, if I ever got to be 25% as smart/efficient as you are, I think I’d be very happy.
Thank you for this Steve! As someone who works a day job 40hrs/week (+ the commute time) I’m always struggling to make sure I use my time outside that job effectively for my online pursuits (en-route to business but not there yet) and my personal life. I’ve found so far that staying un-distracted and accepting that some weeks are going to be harder has helped a lot so far but these are all great insights into how you do it!
Great article Steve! I’m going to have to re-read this one a few times and see what pearls of wisdom I can apply to my own life/business.
As a mom of a 5,3 and 1 year old, we have a few things that have worked well with the kid/life challenge:
1. Encourage independence- my 5 year old does her laundry, and has since she was 4 years old. I mean, she literally drags her laundry basket (flexible rubber with handles so easy for her) down the steps, puts the pod in and starts the washer, transfers clothes to dryer, drags them upstairs, folds them and puts them away. For this she get $1, well worth it. Our 3 year old folds his shirts in half and does towels, our 1 year old loves to take his forks from the dishwasher and put them away in drawer. We praise all of this, and pay $ that they get to spend on things mutually agreed upon.
2. Each kid gets 2 extra-curriculars at any given time, max. I am not a chauffer full time, and don’t intend to be. They have to pick their faves and that’s all their is to it. Ex: my daughter does lego club and had to decide between soccer and gymnastics for the fall.
3. We do fun stuff with the kids, but also work together as a family which we consider quality time too. Example- we clean the play room together and then go to the zoo. We do the laundry Saturday so Sunday we can make cookies and go to the park after Mass.
You forgot the most important decision of choosing well when it came to a partner.
Steve, I love that you say you “specifically craft the current lifestyle”. Your intention and disciplined actions are what allow you to live this balanced life. Most people have more than available to them that they’ll ever admit to. But, they’re not willing to cut down their TV consumption or take the time to build (and stick to) an efficient schedule. Thanks for the excellent read and showing us it’s possible!
BTW, I haven’t figured out a way to balance the kids/life balance yet either, but it’s certainly a lot easier and enjoyable when you have an aligned partner to share it with.
Some good points. When I began my own financial website before I knew it, it was taking over my life. I was working full time and spending my free time on the website. Slowly I have learned to slow down and spend more time with the family. Still not perfect but working on it. It’s hard to do it all but prioritizing things helps to get most of it in.
Thanks for sharing how you juggle it all! Prioritizing and keeping boundaries is so smart. I appreciate seeing your system, gives me some ideas for my own. I agree that podcasting can be so crazy on the schedule.
Hi Steve, my advice is to let them consume it!
It is precious kiddo time you will never have again, can never get back, and will never regret.
Enjoy them now, they grow up all too quick.
Nobody ever died saying I wished I’d spent more time at work!
With my blessings, I enjoy the honesty in your blogs.
“If someone has a system for not letting the kiddos consume your life, I’d love to hear it in the comments below:)”
It is always nice to read about someone that has found a happy balance between work, home life and enjoying our precious time. I have always enjoyed the entrepreneurial stories on this website. Keep publishing the great stuff!
Thanks Mark! Appreciate the comments
Hey there Steve – Love this site so much. A blueprint for financial independence 🙂 You are completely right about work/life balance. Saying no to things that fall outside of your goals is key. Unfortunately I find this difficult at times. Thanks again for the reminder.
Your blog was a wonderful find on a particularly tough and unproductive Monday where I was googling for inspiration on balancing a joint business with my hubby, an 18 month old toddler, and another on the way. It must be serendipity. Thank you so much for your very wise and wide thinking insights. You’ve injected by spirit with much needed energy!
As someone continually obsessed about the perfect life balance, I have a question for you: how do you work health and exercise into your schedule? This is a huge priority for me, and I was wondering if you find the time to squeeze in an exercise regime.
Saludos from Madrid, Spain
I lift on Mondays during lunch time. I play Ultimate Frisbee on Tuesdays and on some Fridays, I run trails at a local park
I didnt even finish reading after you put you work Monday through thursday 9-5 i work everyday except wednesdays 1-10 with an hour for lunch. And on wednesdays i sleep the day through just trying to regain energy.
What you describe isn’t a typical “full time job”. Most full time jobs are 5 days a week from 8-5 or 9-5 and in many cases, even more. You have a really nice situation with your particular days and hours. But it’s essentially just over a part time job (30 hours+) in terms of the hours and days which makes balance a lot easier. Some of us are balancing a true 40+ hour per week FT job, a side hustle that consists of multiple social platforms and consulting, a spouse, children and social life, which is much more difficult than what you describe. Every situation is different but you really need to change this to reflect the true part time status you have.
When I was starting my online store, I was working 60 hours per week as an engineering director designing microprocessors. I didn’t go down to four days until my business were well established.
That a good article, I struggle to manage my time since I started a full-time job its hard to work on my Goals after a tiring day of work. But thanks for this articles its soo motivating that you manage to prioritize with the busy schedule that you have
I understand your schedule, but fitting everything else in you haven’t listed happens how? Appointments? Cleaning? Cooking? Kids’ activities? Exercise for yourself?
I find working full-time while my spouse works overtime to be extremely stressful and there is no balance at least by my standards.
I stopped reading once i read “Monday through Thursday I work at my full time job from 9-5pm – Earlier this year, I went down to 4 days a week”
Lets be realistic here, right?
what a joke.
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