The Secret to Work/Life Balance? Work More, Not Less

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For this author, work/life balance is a total scam. Doubling her working hours significantly improved her life. By Maria Brilaki (Founder, Fitness Reloaded)

As an entrepreneur you get to set the pace of your work. You can push it, or you can wing it. It’s up to you.

In the past, I’d normally work 40-55 hours every week. I was resistant to working more because I wanted to preserve “work/life balance.”

This January, though, I made the decision to increase that time to about 80 hours a week. Still not too crazy, like some other people who work 100-hour a week, but crazy enough.

My intention? To give it my all, and see just how far it’d take me. I didn’t want to lose the game of business because I was outworked. I didn’t want to have to wait for results because I was working too slowly.

I wanted things to move faster. I wanted to set a better example for the people who were working for me. And for all that there was a price: more work.

My personal guidelines were:

  • Avoid vacations (I was working on the New Year’s Day, alas for only 6 hours)
  • Work 11 hours of purely productive time on weekdays (this came out to more than 12 hours in total)
  • Work 9 hours of productive time on Saturdays and Sundays (about 10 hours in total)

Every day would be a test, and I’d have to pass it. At first I felt unsure:

  • Would I end up doing more “busywork,” instead of “smart” work?
  • Would my life become boring, tiring, and uninspiring?
  • What about work/life balance?

Yes, I was afraid. But I still wanted to push my business forward by working more. And so I did.

And to my surprise I discovered that all my fears against hard work were unfounded. Life actually became better after I started working harder! Let me explain.

Myth #1: You Can Either Work Smart or Hard. You Cannot Do Both.

Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can it not be both?

Every day, I’d track how I was spending my time (I used Rescuetime) and I’d ask myself: Did each task help me move the business forward, or was it a distraction?

Since I was targeting 11 hours of “productive” work a day, I hardly had any time to watch that Youtube video. I wouldn’t want to watch it because this would mean I’d have to finish work later, which meant less time with my hubby. Driving and other necessary yet non-productive activities wouldn’t count towards my 11-hour goal either.

So I became very vigilant with my time. Back when I was working eight hours a day, I had time for busywork. But when I raised my standards to 11 hours of productive work a day, then there was just no time for not working smart.

Myth #2: When You Work too Much, Life is Boring.

Yes, I was afraid that by working every day, even weekends, I’d miss on the fun of life. Alas, I was wrong.

I actually liked working more. Work itself became a lot more fun. The sense of purpose I had increased exponentially.

The enjoyment I was getting by completing goals faster was addictive. I was just a lot more excited about what I was doing. I was on fire!

Myth #3: Working More Destroys Your Work-Life Balance.

On the one hard, yes, I had less time for my husband and family, and definitely even less time for my friends. On the other hand, I was once again in for a surprise — quality time became HD!

Here’s what I mean. Isn’t a video in HD quality better than in SD? Can’t you notice the details more and isn’t just the experience more enjoyable?

This is what happened with quality time with my husband, friends and family. Suddenly I was treasuring those moments. I made sure I was there. No iPad. No being with my husband but thinking something else. I was there. I was present. I didn’t want to let any moment pass without my full attention to it.

All in all, instead of finding myself wanting to wing it, I actually found myself thinking how I could work even more. There’s something exciting about being organized  and having a strong sense of purpose.

So if you too have thought about working more but are hesitant to try it, I want to encourage you. Go for it and see how it works out for you!

What's your take on the work/life balance debate?

Photo credit: pikcha via Shutterstock.


About the guest blogger: Maria Brilaki is a Stanford engineer turned health and fitness entrepreneur. Sign up here to test-drive Flat Belly, Firm Butt in 16 Minutes , the new 16-minute workout that gets you an hour's results in 16 minutes.