How can startup founders take time off?

A startup founder doesn’t have specific office hours. They work round the clock to ensure that their business and teams are on track towards success — with undivided attention and time. There is always another product to launch, new clients to acquire, or investors to onboard.

According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), about 79 percent of company CEOs spend their weekends working. However, being burnt out does not help the cause. The hustle culture associated with startups comes with hidden costs of compromised work-life balance and mental wellbeing. It is therefore essential for founders to prioritise their downtime.

With this in mind, Entrepreneurship 101 Entrepreneurs asked how they take time off work without disruptions.

How often should you take time off work?

Indian startups today offer generous vacation policies to their employees as an incentive. In fact, unicorns InMobi and Meesho allow employees to work from anywhere — the beachside, mountains, or in the office.

However, this very idea and the logistics are terrifying for startup founders. Project: Time Off, a report analyzing the balance sheets of American companies, suggest that companies leave $224 billion in unused vacation time on balance sheets every year.

Rarely are startup founders seen taking long breaks to be with their families or indulge in a vacation by the beach. But are these week-long vacations once a year enough to recharge one’s mind and body for the rest of the 51 weeks?

Amit KhatriCo-founder of Noise, disagrees. He says downtime should not be limited to short vacations, even two to three times a year. “For me, downtime is dependent on external factors…Finding moments of downtime in your everyday routine is more practical and effective for one’s health and productivity,” he adds.

The phone’s buzz

Instead of burying themselves in their favorite book or getting their groove on, startup founders find themselves checking their emails and messages. Living in a world of perpetual connectivity and interruptions makes the job of switching off all the more difficult.

“As a startup founder with a lean team, it (completely switching off during vacations) is not always possible… However, if you trust your people and empower them to do what is best in every given situation — you don’t need to be a constant presence around them,” suggests Ravi Bhushan, Founder and CEO of BrightCHAMPS.

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HBR suggests that about 70 percent of CEOs work during vacations. This, again, translates to not taking effective downtime. What is even the point of taking a vacation if you can’t enjoy the sunset from the expensive villa overlooking the sea?

If it’s impossible for you to completely switch off from work, an ideal way of balancing both work and play would be to dedicate up to one hour each day to check and respond to work calls or emails and then use the rest of the day to unwind .

“Being a founder of a young startup, it is impossible to switch off completely. But I plan it well enough to sync up with the team at specific times,” agrees Ansul GoenkaCEO and Co-founder of QuickShift.

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