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Balancing Your Life While Building a Business in Your 20’s

Today’s post on the six figure challenge is an update from the only couple in the group David and Sondra. They have really brought a lot of energy and skills to the group, in a group filled with geeks David has definitely showed his general technology skills.

What I have really enjoyed watching is how they have integrated their work into their daily routine and busy social calendar including some pretty interesting locations for the meeting…

  • Airport
  • Mexico
  • Drive home from Seahawks conference championship game

Today they share how they have been able to balance their demanding jobs, social life and the six figure challenge.

We are David Goecke and Sondra Kinder, one of the lucky participants to Jon’s Six Figure Website Challenge. Really, this all happened by mere chance. On the day the challenge was announced, I happened to randomly open Jon’s blog and found the announcement. Immediately, I told Sondra who agreed that we should apply.

Background

cancunWe grew increasingly intrigued and excited at where this challenge would take us. We submitted a video application the very next day and discovered a few days later that we were accepted into the challenge. At this point, I am not sure we knew what sort of commitment we had agreed to just before the holidays and our 9 day vacation in Mexico.

 

For the first 21 days, the group met almost every day on Google Hangouts to give a status update as well as to share ideas and challenges. The commitment was that for the first 21 day sprint, we would dedicate 4 to 16 hours per day getting our site up and running. From day one, you could say that we had to balance our time very effectively to ensure that we could enjoy our vacation, but also make a dedicated contribution to the Six Figure Website Challenge.

Now, we are going to tell you about our workload, social life, tips to balance the two, accountability, systems, time management, and wrap up the post with tips to manage your time.

 

Work Load

  • Requirements of the Six Figure Website Challenge
  • Demands of work life
  • Demands of social balance

The workload of the Six Figure Website Challenge was an unknown at first. The announcement mentioned 4-16 hours so we were curious about the allocation of that time. To give you a little background on our daily lives, we are young professionals who work full time jobs consulting for a technology fortune 500 company. We live in the Greater Seattle area in the United States and are surrounded by many technology companies.

Naturally, with so many intelligent people working for great companies, the startup culture is very rich. This also means that the workforce is tremendously competitive. On average, we spend 45 hours per week at our full time day job. On top of that, we spend an average of 1.5 hours per day working on the side project. On the side, I own a  Bellevue web design company with marketing and web development clients which requires an hour or two of my time every day

Additionally, we have to balance our social lives as well. It all comes down to balance and time management. Balance conveys prioritizing what is important. What needs to happen versus what can wait. If you want something to get done, give it to someone who is always busy because they always find time to get things done.

 

Social Balance

  • Seahawks
  • Friends and Family
  • Personal Relationship

Sports play a large part of our lives. Although we both root for the Broncos, since we live in Seattle, we have felt the effects of rooting on the Seattle Seahawks. In case you didn’t know, they are a National Football League team in the United States that won the Super Bowl last year. They happen to be going back to the championship this year as well!

seatle seahawks

Living a healthy lifestyle is also very important to us. This means that every day we wake up between 5:30 and 6 o’clock to go to the gym for our daily workout. On Saturdays I play in a flag football league while Sondra gets her exercise shopping at the mall. Sundays is our day off and during football season, that’s when we watch all the games. In addition to working out, we cook the majority of our meals which means time at the grocery store and time at home to prepare those meals. Typically dinner takes about an hour to cook and eat with an additional 15 minutes to clean up afterward.

On top of this, we have our own personal time with each other, our friends and our family. We have friends in many different circles who like to do many different things. It can be very easy to find yourself being invited to multiple events and/or activities at the same time. Since many of our friends are young and single, there is always something crazy going on. We also live in the city within walking distance to delicious restaurants, numerous bars and the downtown mall. When trying to balance your life, this can be very tempting!

Here is what our typical day looks like, just to give you an idea of our crazy schedule.

ActivityTime
Wake up / Gym5:30 AM
Shower / Breakfast8:00 AM
Full time job8:00 AM
Prepare Dinner5:00 PM
Six Figure Website Challenge6:00 PM
Web Design Company8:00 PM
Personal Time9:00 PM
Midnight Snack10:30 PM
Wash Up and Bedtime 11:00 PM

 

5 Tips to Balance Your Work and Social Life While Also Juggling a Side Project

We have put together a list of 5 tips we have found to significantly help us balance our work and social lives while also juggling a side project.

  • Exercise and Meditate
    We are avid gym goers and have nailed this activity into our daily routine while meditating is something we do individually during our own time to clear our minds. Exercising in itself helps to boost the metabolism and provide more energy throughout the day; while meditating helps to reduce stress and improve concentration throughout your day.
  • Build free time into your schedule
    By building free time into your schedule, you will allow yourself a healthy break throughout your busy day. It isn’t always easy to pause your work but doing so increases your ability to focus when you begin your tasks again.
  • Limit time wasting activities and/or people if these don’t support your long term goals
    Eliminate time spent with people who do not share the same mindset or goals as yourself. Your time is your most valuable asset so its important to be thoughtful in who your give your time to.
  • Stick to your schedule
    Avoid running over on meetings. If you plan to do something for a set amount of time, stick to your schedule. Our calendars run our lives.
  • Schedule one thing you look forward to each day
    By scheduling one thing you genuinely look forward to each day, you give yourself a little boost of motivation and energy.

 

Accountability

  • Team Accountability
  • Partner Accountability
  • Individual Accountability

Accountability is accepting responsibility for your actions. In other words, it’s really how we manage our time and make sure we accomplish important things.

Meeting with Jon’s Six Figure Website Challenge group gives us the aspect of team accountability. During these meetings we provide a status update on our project. This is perhaps one of the largest benefits of participating in a mastermind. Two brains are greater than one brain and the idea of synergy is certainly present within our group. We accomplish more together because as a team, we have aligned goals and objectives. Please find other people to join you in your own mastermind who can help push you to accomplish your goals.

Partner accountability simply refers to having an accountability partner. This could be your boss, a friend, or a romantic partner. Whoever you choose, they need to have enough authority to enforce action and motivate you while also having some investment in the outcome of your success. Sondra and I keep each other accountable as the success of this project is equally important to both of us. Additionally, I meet with another member of the group on a nightly basis to simply catch up and swap ideas. Partner accountability can be especially effective when you trust your partner and they hold you to your word.

Individual accountability is another way of saying self-discipline. In other words, do you have enough control over your emotions and feelings to overcome your weaknesses. There are many temptations that will distract you from accomplishing your goals. Technology has a way of accelerating those distractions, Some examples include social media, news outlets, and Reddit. In order to be truly effective and manage your time, you must have personal accountability to yourself.

 

Systems

  • Right Team
  • Right Priorities
  • Right Processes

Systems are a great way to maintain accountability on all levels. They are the next level in terms of maintaining a greater accountability to your team and to your project as a whole. Perhaps this could be another epic post topic, but its importance is appropriate.

team-process-priority

One of my firm beliefs is that having the right team is the most important factor into running a successful project or getting anything done. Balancing the right amount of empowerment and management will greatly improve the outcomes of the project. Managing teams and people could also be another great topic as there are many different approaches and styles to leadership. The bottom line is surround yourself with the right people that will motivate you and help you accomplish the job.

urgency important

Priorities are important because you may have the right team, but they might not be doing the right things. In other words, when you hire your team of VAs, are they completing the tasks that are most important? Have you given your PM enough direction that he/she knows what they need to do by tomorrow or next week? Answering these questions will help you understand what is most important. The ability to accurately prioritize allows you to accomplish the most important task first. Although this may seem like an easy concept to grasp, success depends on other complexities such as effective communication, language barriers, and personal relationship skills.

Processes are the most important because even if you have the right team doing the most important things, they may be doing them completely inefficiently or incorrectly. In other words, good processes save you time and money. As a result, we have prepared Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for almost every task we have for our team. We appreciate the concept of Kaizen, which means “continuous improvement.” Having a process for all of your important tasks will greatly improve the efficiency of your team and your project. Are you having a hard time deciding if something needs an SOP? Well if you have to do the task more than once, or if you think you will ever have to do the task a 2nd time, write an SOP for the task or come up with a process that will support the completion of said task.

 

10 Tips to Better Manage Your Time

Here are 10 tips David and I have put together to help you maximize your time and efficiency in all aspects of your life.

  1. Document time spent on tasks each day
    David and I do this religiously every day. Use a notebook to document each task you do daily and at what time you started/ended. This will provide you with how much time was spent on each task throughout your day.
  1. Plan your day every morning
    Take time every morning to plan and review your schedule for the day. This will help you to prioritize your tasks to align to your schedule so that you remain on time if not ahead of schedule.
  1. Learn to say ‘no’
    This little tip seems easy but some people (like Sondra) find it difficult to say no and find themselves later swamped with tasks and having to put in extra hours to complete everything. Learn to not overcommit so that you can control your schedule and remain on time.
  1. Devote your entire focus to the task at hand.
    Eliminate distractions and give 100% effort to the task at hand. Place your phone on silence, close any browsers not required and dedicate your full attention to getting the job done.
  1. Use down time to do small tasks
    Time waiting for the bus, hair appointment, doctor’s appointment, etc. can be used jotting down ideas like article topics or even reviewing/editing articles. Be prepared to make use of this time ahead of schedule so that you can be most effective!
  1. Wake up early
    Starting the day early will most likely set the day off ahead of schedule and provide enough time for breakfast, the most important meal of the day! David and I typically jump start the day by heading to the gym around 5:30 and still have enough time for breakfast and schedule preparation without the rush.
  1. Set goals
    Setting realistic goals is important to help you stay on track and on time.
  1. Hold yourself accountable
    Realize your slips when you fall behind schedule and strategize a plan to work ahead to get back on track. This may mean working a few extra hours on the weekend.
  1. Take breaks between tasks
    Believe it or not, taking breaks helps you to stay focused in the long run.
  1. Find what motivates you
    Determine what makes you get out of bed in the morning. Success, money, fame, recognition? For David and I, its the opportunity at making six figures this year with Jon Gillham in the Six Figure Website Income Challenge.

 

Conclusion

Balance your life.

If you only take one thing away from this article, it’s that you have limited time, energy, and money. I am sure you have seen the below image showing the balance of these three. You can balance effectively by maintaining accountability, implementing systems, and following our 10 tips to managing your time.

young adult old

To be successful in authority web sites, niche projects, and life in general, you must have the ability to prioritize effectively. For us, that means balancing work life and social life.

Hopefully you resonate with some of the points in this article. We really look forward to continuing to contribute to the community. Feel free to reach out to either of us via Twitter. @DavidGoecke @SondraKinder

Go Seahawks!

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8 comments
Dominic Wells says January 29, 2015

I liked it up until the Go Seahawks part. Lucky you put that at the end!

Awesome write up guys, some really useful tips and I’m sure you could have written another 10,000 words of great advice.

Reply
Mason says January 29, 2015

Amen to the exercise and meditation. I’ve tried a few times to schedule in consistent time for side projects, and it’s usually come at the expense of exercise and meditation, and I’ve always burned out waaaaaaay too quickly. Ive recently re prioritized those and I’m more balanced, motivated, and efficient. I’ve recently realized that those two habits are a life long essentials for me.

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Doug says January 29, 2015

Hey David & Sondra – great tips! I have a full time job, too, so I can totally relate. I’ve taken to waking up super early to get things done. The only downside to my routine is that I get tired at 8-9 PM. 🙂

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Josh Shogren says January 29, 2015

First off, I’m a huge Seahawks fan and love to meet a fellow fan 🙂 go Hawks baby!!

I thoroughly enjoyed this article and put me into a great mindset. I love your tips that you have and I am going to have to try some of them! Thanks for the article and good luck on the six figure challenge.

-Josh

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Cameron says January 29, 2015

Wow, this was a great piece for our family. Thanks for the post…… We started our stuff as a side business, but with a baby the discipline has been challenging. Thanks for the motivation!

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Joseph Ho says January 29, 2015

Hey David & Sondra,

Great tips , me too also having a full time job and with a kid. I had to wake up at 5am to get things done. I like the part of “Your time is your most valuable asset so its important to be thoughtful in who your give your time to”

Good luck to you guys!

Reply
Raweewan says January 29, 2015

Wow! This is really interesting idea to balance our life and business. I haven’t applied to the Six Figure Challenge Website. But I do follow your update and build my own. And I also work full-time and have side business as you do. So I do understand and know how important of our time each day. Thank you so much for the great article. 🙂

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Alex Barker says February 8, 2015

I implemented your technique of recording my activities every 15 minutes and it’s made me extremely productive! Last week rocked! Thanks for this helpful post.

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