Laptop in canvas bag to illustrate work live balance

Embracing Work-Life Integration: Advice from Thriving Startup Leaders

In search of the elusive equilibrium between work and personal life, we’ve gathered 20 insights from CEOs and founders on mastering work-life integration.

From embracing time blocking for prioritization to applying the 80/20 rule for balance, these leaders share their practical tips for startup leaders and entrepreneurs. Discover their strategies to navigate the demanding journey of entrepreneurship with well-being in mind.

  • Embrace Time Blocking for Prioritization
  • Dedicate Time to Disconnection and Socializing
  • Trust Your Productivity Fluctuations
  • Implement Power Hours for Focus
  • Contribute to Your Community
  • Invest Time in Meaningful Friendships
  • Set Boundaries for Health and Family
  • Accept Imbalance for Fulfillment
  • Practice Moving Meditation
  • Hold Non-Negotiable Times for Personal Priorities
  • Utilize Smartwatch Reminders for Movement
  • Double Up on Activities for Efficiency
  • Turn on Weekend Airplane Mode for Family Time
  • Play Chess for Strategic Rejuvenation
  • Align Activities with Personal Values
  • Seek Joy in Your Entrepreneurial Journey
  • Focus on Essential Tasks Only
  • Automate to Reduce Workload
  • Match Themed Days for a Structured Rhythm
  • Apply the 80/20 Rule for Balance

Embrace Time Blocking for Prioritization

As an entrepreneur, there is and always will be more to do. You must accept the fact that you will never truly be “caught up” or get everything done. Prioritize what’s most important and reserve time on your calendar for those exact tasks.

I book everything I do out as time blocks on my calendar, whether that be client projects, business development meetings, or even time to research new tools or respond to journalist requests! Time blocking is exceptionally important for work-life balance.

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Using the above methodology will allow you to ask if what you got accomplished is reasonable versus “Am I caught up?” This mental shift and approach will lead to a much healthier and more satisfying lifestyle.

Ben Seidel, CEO and Founder, Igniting Business

Dedicate Time to Disconnecting and Socializing 

Balancing work and life is tough as a startup leader, with constant pressure for the company’s ultimate health and success. My solution is dedicating time to surfing and being social. 

Surfing acts as a moving meditation and allows me to disconnect from all screens while in the water, often leading to clear-headed, creative thinking about work. Socializing, especially on weekends instead of working, reminds me there’s a world beyond the startup. This deliberate balance of work, play, and socializing is crucial. It prevents burnout and makes me more effective and energized to come back to the screen on a Monday. 

Without the balance of going out and having a dedicated hobby (I have others, but surfing is the main one), I’d probably not be able to handle the pressure of running a business. I recommend any young entrepreneur reserve some weekends for being social instead of working and find a hobby or sport that you want to dedicate yourself to improving at. That way, it feels constructive to spend time towards it instead of being a distraction from your business.

Ari Lew, CEO, Asymm

Trust Your Productivity Fluctuations

Creating confidence in the inherent fluctuations of productivity is something that has proven to be really effective for me throughout the years. I follow my momentum when I’m feeling good, and the positive vibe is flowing. Even for several days, I give myself permission to relax when I feel like I can hardly think clearly. 

Crucially, I also don’t punish myself when I’m having a bad day. Years passed before I finally understood that the bad periods would pass, and I would ultimately feel more energetic. In fact, some researchers claim that even if you don’t think your brain is working during this downtime, it is. Gaining confidence in this pattern has been a key component in my increased productivity and healthy work-life balance.

Mitch Kenney, CEO, Sveagle Plumbing

Implement Power Hours for Focus

Incorporating the Power Hour principle into my daily routine has tremendously helped me with productivity, prevented burnout, and balanced work-life balance. Depending on my energy levels and how much I slept the night before, I decide my Power Hours. Usually, I keep six Power Hours for myself: three for work and three for personal activities.

During my work Power Hours, I focus all my energy on working on the major projects, which yields significant results since this is the peak of my productivity. Similarly, for my personal Power Hours, I choose to do things for myself, like exercise, meditation, and giving time to hobbies and family. 


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The main aim is to focus on the task at hand and commit to it. This approach provides a sense of relief that I have equal time for both work and personal life, keeping me at peace at the end of the day.

Dan Barnard, Founder, Abom

Contribute to Your Community

Contribute to the lives of others. Pro bono and voluntary labor not only improve the image and reputation of your company, but they also help you feel good about your entire work ethic. 

Furthermore, enhancing the quality of life for others serves as a reminder of life’s greater purpose and that it is not just about making quick moves to become well-known and wealthy. It’s about making meaningful relationships, igniting change, and savoring the present. Getting involved in the lives of others can bring a level of happiness to your life that cannot be purchased.

Mark Blakey, CEO, Autism Parenting Magazine

Invest Time in Meaningful Friendships

I can’t overemphasize how important friends are in the early years of a venture. Investing in friendship is something I have had to be very intentional about during my business launch. Thus, I prioritize and reserve a portion of my time each week for friends. It may be on the phone, or even better, in person; regardless, I am regularly in contact with and make space for my closest friends.

Leadership is often a very lonely experience. Having close friends who can listen to you, encourage you, remind you who you are and what is important, and even have a little fun is invaluable. Friends help in gaining perspective and in restoring the soul.

Too many business leaders advance their business at the expense of their friendships. The sad irony is that, done right, those friends will help you experience greater joy, impact, and endurance as you pass through the business gauntlet.

Brent Hafele, M.A., ACC, Coach for Executives and President, Vibrancy Unlocked

Set Boundaries for Health and Family

Achieving success with a startup can sometimes come at the cost of a healthy work-life balance. I have experienced this firsthand. Despite owning a $3 million-a-year business, I had to work tirelessly to get there. I would work seven days a week, including nights, weekends, and holidays, prioritizing my business over my family. 

As a result, my health suffered, and I had to spend a considerable amount of money later to regain my health. A well-known pastor, John Hagee, once said that we lose our health while gaining wealth, and then we spend that wealth trying to regain our health. If I could go back in time, I would leave work at 4 p.m., come home, and forget about work.

Tammy Sons, CEO, TN Nursery

Accept Imbalance for Fulfillment

Work and life are not truly distinct; the two have to exist in harmony with each other.

As a mother of two kids and an entrepreneur of a small and growing business, I have a multitude of demands on my time every day. My startup, family, friends, health, and passion pursuits each have a critical part in my life.

Rather than getting fixated on striving for a balance between each aspect of my life every day, I have come to accept that depending on the day, one or the other will require more of my time and attention. So, if my son’s college application is due, and it means not being able to get a full workout or having to delegate a work meeting to a colleague, I have learned to accept it and be at peace with this. Overall, this has led to less stress and more fulfillment in each of these aspects.

Dr. Menka Gupta, Founder and Functional Medicine Doctor, Nutranourish

Practice Moving Meditation

No matter how urgent fires flare on any given day, or which global hub I’m traveling through, getting ocean-bound remains non-negotiable. Whether it’s duck-diving Pacific swells or hanging ten down the faces of warm Indian Ocean waves on work trips, nothing resets presence and perspective more powerfully.

Through the paddle out past breakers, that first adrenalized drop, and the blissful foam party afterwards, I tap into flow states, unlocking refreshed creativity, insight, and endurance to keep charging ahead successfully.


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The saltwater church doesn’t care about startup stressors. It grounds me firmly in the present moment, which I can then infuse back into forward-focused leadership. The ocean’s timeless wisdom washes clean mental models to question anew.

So, fellow grinders, never underestimate the revitalizing magic of moving meditation. Make space for those sacrosanct activities that spark your highest self, be it surfing or otherwise.

Jason Smit, CEO, Contentellect

Hold Non-Negotiable Times for Personal Priorities

I started my marketing agency in 2019, just two months after our first kid was born and while working a full-time job as a mechanical engineer. The beginning was a grind, for sure, but I knew what I wanted: to go full-time with my marketing agency within one year. Keeping that goal at the top of my mind helped me get through some tough spots. 

My work-life balance was not great in that first year, while I essentially worked two jobs, but once I went full-time with the agency, a whole new set of challenges arose. Now I was the only one telling myself what to do. The first two months after going full-time, I found I actually got less done than I did before while working a full-time job. Why? I had no structure anymore. 

Building a set of non-negotiable daily times for family (we have four kids now), sleep, working out, and reading/self-development has been so key to avoiding burnout while still pushing forward. My health and mental clarity are the most important things. Without them, the grind is meaningless.

Lewis Vandervalk, Owner, Blue Crocus Solutions

Utilize Smartwatch Reminders for Movement

I keep track of my fitness levels throughout the day while I work. I wear a smartwatch that acts as my personal fitness coach. I follow its bidding when it tells me to get up and move, whether it’s for a light stretch, a short walk, or a jog. It gives me prompts according to my daily goals for moving, standing, and exercising.

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For leaders like me, who sit in front of the computer for long periods, this is a great way to integrate fitness into our workday. Unfortunately, it’s common for most of us to get carried away typing on our laptops for hours on end without realizing that we’ve been sedentary for too long, which is bad for our metabolism. 

Wearing a smartwatch to remind us to get up and move around every once in a while is a great way to balance our work and health at once.

Meg Hellerstedt, President, Sylvane

Double Up on Activities for Efficiency

Double up wherever you can. There’s only so much time in my day, so finding ways to double up activities can help me accomplish more of what I want to without overloading my schedule. 

If I want to work out and spend time with my family or friends, for example, we can book a group activity that allows us to do both. If I need to catch up with a colleague, I’ll book a meeting over lunch so we can eat and chat simultaneously. If I want to read a book but don’t have the time, I’ll buy the audiobook version and play it on my commute or during a workout.

The trick to doubling up without driving yourself crazy is ensuring the two activities don’t compete for your attention. They need to be in entirely separate realms so you don’t feel overwhelmed or like your attention is fragmented.

Hardy Desai, Founder, Supple Digital

Turn on Weekend Airplane Mode for Family Time

I go on airplane mode on weekends and expect the same from my workers. My team and I work tirelessly all week, ensuring that nothing is compromised in terms of the quality of work or deliverables. I keep my weekends to spare my family and myself, to feel like a completely different person. I schedule activities for the weekends with my dear ones so that I enjoy what I’m doing. Remember, you are working to improve and earn your living, not living to work.

Jasen Edwards, Licensed Real Estate Agent and Coach, Agent Advice

Play Chess for Strategic Rejuvenation

Ritualizing recreational pursuits that stimulate strategic thinking is invaluable to me for recharging my perspective while still flexing mental muscles.

My outlet is face-to-face (IRL) chess. As a lifelong player, few activities prove more enrapturing than sitting across from an equally skilled opponent with endless possibilities awaiting in those 64 squares.

Unlike passive entertainment, chess demands diligent concentration, attuning my tactical faculties and envisioning dynamic chains of opportunity from single moves. I shoulder the thrill of risk-taking, balanced by disciplined calculation.

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This fuels a gratifying paradox: games represent a total diversion from work, yet powerfully boost the cognitive sharpness I then apply to business strategy. In a world fixated on exponential returns, pastimes that compel earnest presence and patience become profoundly rejuvenating. Stillness speaks volumes through unspoken moves. I touch base with flow states inaccessible in daily hustling.

Jonathan Ayala, Founder, Hudson Condos

Align Activities with Personal Values

Achieving work-life integration, especially as a startup leader or entrepreneur, requires a clear understanding of your values. Knowing your values makes it easier to set boundaries with your time in a way that suits you. It’s important to remember that this is not a “one-size-fits-all” process—you might need very clear lines between work and home time, or you might find you can blend the two seamlessly. 

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You may also discover that there are different times of day or days of the week when your energy is higher for cognitively challenging tasks, or for tasks that require solitude versus those that involve interactions. By understanding your values and preferences, you’ll find it easier to say “yes” or “no” to requests and activities at home and at work.

Anne Welsh, Clinical Psychologist and Executive Coach, Dr. Anne Welsh

Seek Joy in Your Entrepreneurial Journey

Work is a part of life, but being stuck in a job you hate is a fast track to misery.

Whether you’re already in business for yourself or just thinking about it, if your current job or business doesn’t bring you joy, take control. Consider changing things, making improvements, or exploring new opportunities. It’s your life, and you have the power to shape it!

Finding even a small amount of passion for what you do is crucial. If you’re a startup leader or trying to be an entrepreneur, achieving a good balance between work and life starts with genuinely enjoying what you do. Don’t settle for misery—take charge and seek fulfillment in your career journey.

Kate Cherven, Marketing Specialist, United Site Services

Focus on Essential Tasks Only

Focus your efforts on essential tasks. Most business owners overextend themselves in an attempt to be involved in every facet of the company. An astute businessperson understands how to take advantage of technology and when to assign jobs to others. 

By concentrating on the most crucial facets of the company, you can strike a great work-life balance. You can spend more time with those you cherish or engage in activities that rejuvenate you by cutting down on your workload and carrying out a well-thought-out plan.

Luke Jordon, Co-Founder, Jewelry Lab

Automate to Reduce Workload

When I started my first business, my approach was to automate everything as soon as possible.

In the beginning, I worked long hours and wore multiple hats. But as soon as my business made a profit, I hired a freelancer to ease my workload and bought automation software to automate redundant tasks. This approach has worked well, as it essentially cut my workload in half.

I find that the biggest reason entrepreneurs suffer from burnout is that they don’t want to cut into their profit margins by hiring more employees or investing in automation software. They would rather do everything themselves.

Scott Lieberman, Owner, Touchdown Money

Match Themed Days for a Structured Rhythm

Navigating the dynamic challenges of leading a moving company—or running any business—and maintaining a healthy work-life integration is tough. To help me, I’ve discovered the power of themed days.

I dedicate each day to a specific aspect of my life or business, creating a structured rhythm. For instance, Mondays are strategic planning days for the business, while Fridays are reserved exclusively for personal rejuvenation and family time. 

By embracing this thematic approach, I ensure that both my professional and personal priorities receive dedicated attention, fostering a sense of control amidst the bustling nature of the moving industry. This unique scheduling strategy allows me to compartmentalize tasks efficiently and contributes to a more harmonious blend of work and life.

Mike Harvey, Managing Director, 1st Move International

Apply the 80/20 Rule for Balance

Achieving a healthy work-life integration as a startup leader comes down to embracing the 80/20 rule—that is, the idea that 20% of our actions yield 80% of the outcomes. With a decade of experience as a marketing lead in SaaS startups, this principle has helped me focus on what really matters.

Identifying which tasks, strategies, and activities will have the most significant impact on our goals is crucial. It’s about recognizing and prioritizing the *vital few* over the *trivial many*.

At work, 20% of my actions will lead to an 80% outcome. 20% of my time in the week leads to 80% of the results. 20% of my strategy leads to 80% of the results. 20% of my team drives 80% of the results.

By becoming highly intentional with your time, you’ll not only achieve results at work but also cultivate a lifestyle that nurtures your well-being. Work smarter, not harder.

Madhav Bhandari, Head of Marketing, Early Stage Marketing

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