Renee and I just finished a weeklong vacation (honeymoon) in Cancun. It was much needed for both of us and incredibly relaxing and just great for us to have time to connect given our hectic lives. There was a time when I was terrible about taking time for myself and my family – going multiple years in between any real time off – and I’ll never do it again.
I know there will be those entrepreneurs and early stage veterans who will say that doing early stage work is all consuming and you have to do “whatever it takes” and there simply isn’t the ability to take time off from a startup.
I disagree. I’ve lived on both sides of this fence and there’s one fundamental truth – there will always be more to do than you can get done. And I’ve never taken a vacation when the timing was right, it never is. And I’ve also never taken a vacation where my absence resulted in a catastrophic event for the business. To the contrary, time off rejuvenates, enhances focus and most important, it’s an explicit pronouncement of your priorities, not just to yourself, but to your family. I learned my lesson the hard way as a result of all those years without taking time to remind my family of my priorities.
And I’m not suggesting that in a startup you can disappear into the ether for 2 weeks at a time. When I take vacation, I still check email once per day and respond to any urgent issues. This frequency still allows me to relax and focus on vacation, not work, for the bulk of my day. That is simply my personal balance and one that works just fine for Renee too.
I do realize there are exceptions and I also realize that startups require obsessive, compulsive, even paranoid behavior, but not enough of any of these to avoid putting vacation plans on the calendar in advance and not enough to repeatedly cancel vacation time.
So take some time off. Disconnect if even just a little. Connect with your family. It will all be there when you get back.
There’s a great article detailing a well respected VC’s struggle with the same issue “Do More Faster”.