Unexpected Lessons from Startup Life

It probably goes without saying that working at a startup is exciting. Things move quickly, people are passionate, and it’s easy to see the impact of your daily work. Everyone feels invested, and it doesn’t feel like a big deal to put in extra hours, go through emails or bug fixes on weekends, or to do what needs to be done to hit those milestones.

But here’s the thing-it is a big deal.

One of the things that most startups tout is a great benefits plan. Flexible hours! A well stocked selection of snacks! Awesome vacation policies! A benefit that should also been included in this list (but that too often slips through the cracks) is work/life balance. Yes, it’s important to meet deadlines, but it’s also important not to burn out. I know I do my best work when I’m rested and refreshed. You probably do too. So how can individuals–and companies–promote a healthy work/life balance?

Unplug: You may not have strict work hours. You may pride yourself on your fast response time to emails. You may have days where you take calls from home outside of your usual 9-5. That’s all fine. Try to set aside time, though, where you don’t check your emails, don’t take work phone calls, and don’t open up that work computer. Taking time away from your daily job duties helps your brain reset, and it can open up your mind to other ways of problem solving since you’re not letting yourself get entrenched 24 hours a day in whatever you’re working on.

Use that vacation time: It can be hard to want to tear yourself away from the projects you’re working on, but employers offer vacation for a reason–so use it. Whether it’s a long weekend, a trip to a place you’ve always wanted to visit, or some time to stay home and hang with friends and family, taking time off helps you recharge. Staying fresh always helps you to stay enthusiastic, creative, and energized about what you do day in and day out.

Lead by example: It sounds great to encourage people to balance their life with their work and to take time off, but if no one ever actually takes time off and people spend their nights and weekends working, then the point is moot. If you’re in a management position, it’s especially important to set an example by taking time off when you need it and not responding to emails 24 hours a day (as tempting as that may be). If you do it, the people around you will see that as not only the norm but the expectation. Even if you’re not in a management position, you can still set an example for the rest of your team and coworkers by creating the expectation that you value your time outside of work so that you can enjoy your time at work.

It’s awesome to be excited about your work–and it’s even better to stay that way. Making sure you take time away from the office, shutting off your screens, and taking care of yourself are all important ways to stay happy at work. You are one of your company’s most important assets, after all.

Looking for a place that values work-life balance? Check out Stackery - we’re hiring.