Naked CEO series: work life balance and health/fitness at a startup

by oneafrikan on May 15, 2007

I’ve got 10 mins to write this so I’ll keep this as short and brief as possible ;-)

I’m really struggling with this work life balance and exercise thing. I’m totally cool with where I am regards the amount of work I’m doing, and the hours I’m putting in, ‘cos I’m working towards something. But that’s another conversation altogether.

Point is that at this stage, I’m really trying hard to get exercise into my daily schedule. I find the benefits of even 3 sessions a week massively worth it. More than that and my body feels like a different beast. When I was younger I played a pretty competitve level of sport, so I really do miss that physical exertion thing.

The main problem apart from actually doing it, is doing it at the right time. I’m not really a morning person, but I’m told that exercising in the morning is better for a few things, so have bought into that. Problem is that when you’re getting to bed at 12 at night, and waking up at 6am (latest to make it possible) to go to gym, then get to work by 8, you’re only getting 6 hours of sleep, more like 5 hours with actually getting to sleep factored in. Not good, and defo not sustainable.

So the other option is to do gym in the evening after work, which I like as it means that after a long hard day you can go to gym and really work out any frustrations/demons/backaches, and there are enerally more women in the gym too ;-) Problem here is that you end up going to bed later (like I am now) as you’re only really getting home around 8/8:30, which means you’re only able to get work started by 9 earliest, which means at best you get 3 hours in before 12 and bedtime. I don’t personally like this much as it means I’m still wide awake when I should be sleeping – my brain doesn’t switch off unless I encourage it to.

Still, both of the above are better than staying at the office until the last tube (which I’ve done more times than I can remember, and have vowed not to do again!), as then you lose supper, exercise, contact with human beings, although you might actually get more work done.

My big problem is that I’ve figured out through many weeks and months and years of batting my head against my metabolism, that I actually do need at least 7 hours of sleep, preferably 8, at this stage of my life, to function properly and not enter into zombie Gareth mode. And sleep is something that I want to safeguard as much as possible as I’m starting to consider it as a cornerstone of being productive and efficient.

So, this is basically a monologue, where it looks like the answer has come out through conversation with myself, which is also another reason why I enjoy blogging!

I’m gonna aim to go to gym by 7/7:30am, get to work by 8:30/9am, which I’ll try tomorrow. If I can’t make it ‘cos I’m too tired, I sleep more, and go to gym in the evening. If I can make it before work, then I have gottten exercise out of the way, and will have more time in the evening for other stuff, or just plain more work, so either way I should be able to keep the number of hours of sleep consistent, as well as regular exercise. Wonder what a good session on the guns in the morning will feel like at lunchtime! ;-)

Key here is to get that regular sleep, and to get that regular exercise, whatever it takes.
I’m gonna try my best to get the above into a daily habit (27 repetitions of the action I think is what is needed), now that I’ve talked about this publicly, and have to do something about it! Today was day 1.

Has anyone else found any other systems / approaches that work? Would love to hear as I’m sure there are loads of tricks that would help… Like putting your gym bag in the doorway before you go to sleep!


The problem of fitting exercise into a hectic lifestyle is not one exclusive to busy entrepreneurs. My solution is to cycle to work – it takes as long as the train/tube, costs less and is basically free fitness. I do it whatever the weather, but usually give myself one day off a week (usually Friday).

by Ian on May 17, 2007 at 6:33 pm. Reply #

Hey dude

Owe you an email!

Yup, I would do that, and living win Wimbledon and working in Putney I could certainly do that, but we don’t have a shower at work… ;-)

We might move though, and if we do move into something that does, that’s the first choice!

by Gareth Knight on May 17, 2007 at 10:01 pm. Reply #

Hehe, well it’s just one solution to the problem that might inspire other people reading this post. A shower is a big problem, but I have managed with having a bird bath in gents toilets before (far from ideal though). Also, you can cycle in slowly and not get too sweaty, then cane it on the way home.

Running, roller skating and human powered flight may all be other possibilities… :)

by Ian on May 17, 2007 at 10:06 pm. Reply #

I hear ya ;-) Bird bath is crap!!

Would love to be able to snowboard to work!

by Gareth Knight on May 17, 2007 at 10:37 pm. Reply #

Gareth — it is a tough balance, but easier if you are single. ;) i tried the early morning thing & it just didn’t last long…my body / muscles were too stiff / asleep…plus i am a night owl & generally hit the rack at midnight.

now, i basically go to the gym almost everyday at lunch…do 30-40 minutes, grab some lunch & get back to work. you really come back to work a bit more charged & awake. sometimes i do the workout after work, but it’s really risky with family stuff always going on. i essentially plan to work out everyday knowing i will miss 1-2 days per week. then i also hit the dojo 2 times per week from 7:00PM to 8:30 or 9. makes for a late night, so i have a small snack before & after.

also, compared to when i was 25 (now 40), i workout a lot “smarter” if that makes any sense. i don’t do any “resting/psyching up” in the gym, just from one spot to the next, always super-setting. i have also been trying to incorporate some of Mark Twight’s [ ] super intense methods into my routine.


by Geoff on May 21, 2007 at 7:10 pm. Reply #

Leave your comment


Required. Not published.

If you have one.

Protected with IP Blacklist CloudIP Blacklist Cloud