Work Life Balance During COVID

Angela and Jonathan have a spontaneous discussion about work life balance during COVID. Also, we're taking questions.
If you have any questions you would like us to answer, please reach out on Twitter, @FixingFaxes.
We discuss the pressure that is often put on founders to sink your lives into your company and the toll that takes. Even for people who reject the "exhaustion as a badge of honor" culture, it's really hard to find balance particularly during COVID.
Justin Jackson tweeted, "The best thing you can do for yourself (and your business) is to give yourself more margin in your life" with a link to his original article "Good business have margin". We talk about how little margin or buffer we have.

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Produced by Jonathan Bowers and Angela Hapke
Music by Andrew Codeman (CC BY 3.0)


Jonathan: [00:00:00] maybe we should take some questions from listeners.
Angela: [00:00:03] Love that. Yes. Okay.
So are we putting it out there to listeners to ask us questions
Jonathan: [00:00:09] Yeah. How do they get ahold of
Angela: [00:00:10] well on Twitter @FixingFaxes
Yeah. DM us on Twitter.
Jonathan: [00:00:20] Yeah. Or ask a question like just reply public reply. That's fine too.
Angela: [00:00:24] Yes. I also think a lot of the people listening, uh, know us personally. So,
Jonathan: [00:00:29] Yes. You can also just fire off a message to one of us.
Angela: [00:00:35] I was so focused on getting Kristy and Tim on as guests that I'm like, Oh yeah, we needed a topic for today.
Jonathan: [00:00:43] Oh, well, um, are we prepared? Sweet?

Introduction [00:00:49]

you're listening to Fixing Faxes a podcast on the journey of building a digital health startup with your hosts, myself, Jonathan Bowers.
Angela: [00:00:57] And I'm Angela Hapke. So I don't know what kind of list we got on. But my LinkedIn and my emails are being hit with all these people that want to help us grow and, um, look for the use of word, accelerate a lot and venture money and all this kind of stuff, but it's very focused on, um, them helping us try and find money.
So do you know what I do?
Jonathan: [00:01:30] do you just hit spam?
Angela: [00:01:32] I actually have replied a few times saying, thank you for your interest. I have no interest in pursuing this right now. If you'd like to hear more check out this podcast about where I talk about bootstrapping, instead of looking for additional funding.
Jonathan: [00:01:48] You're channeling that into, you're trying to farm listens out of spam.
Angela: [00:01:56] They clearly have not done their research. And so they should do the research
Jonathan: [00:02:02] That's funny. I I've been getting a ton of different kinds of email, um, because my email address is the one that shows up. I th I think it's like linked to the
podcast somehow. Um, so, but I get it chests or, sorry, I get emails about podcast stuff. Like we can help you grow your podcasts. We can help you share your podcasts.
We can help you do this with the podcast. Um, we'd love to have, we'd love to have our, uh, Our, uh, we have an extensive list of high, high profile guests that would love to be featured on your podcast. And it's so
irrelevant and so spammy. but if anyone is feeling like super, super lonely in their inbox, just start a podcast, you will get a ton of great comments from people and they're getting kind of tricky, like
Angela: [00:02:44] Oh, like you're you're you're are you almost convinced?
Jonathan: [00:02:49] um, so, so I like the ones that are not trying to trick me, but are using really clever, like really clever tools are really clever. Uh, techniques to get my attention. I really dislike the ones that are trying to trick me. Like the ones that the ones that come through is as a, like, it looks like a forward from some underling at an employee.
And the forward is like, Uh, the CEO saying like, Hey, you should check out Jonathan from Two Story Robot and, or you should check out Jonathan from the, from the, uh, fixing faxes podcast. Um, I think, I think it'd be a great to work with. And then, and then that person sends me that email and then comments.
It's like, Hey, my boss told me to reach out to you. Like what bunch of bull, whooey is that.
Angela: [00:03:24] Wow. That's a, that's something else. You got to flip that script. Just do what I
Jonathan: [00:03:31] I just, I just Mark them as spam.
Angela: [00:03:33] now. I know just bugging you is getting listeners that have my, uh, my spam.
Jonathan: [00:03:39] I do like that though. I'm going to try that. I'm going to try that.
Angela: [00:03:42] Well they're very specifically asking me about something that we released a podcast saying that we wouldn't do right now. So I'm like, well, if you want to learn more about it, then listen to this podcast because I go into exactly why I'm not looking for money right now. Oh my goodness. Sorry. I have stuff at my teeth and it's gross. I'm so glad we're not recording the video. It's just
Jonathan: [00:04:06] Do you so let's get real vulnerable now. Cause you just picked your teeth in front of me. Um,
Angela: [00:04:11] Sorry,
Jonathan: [00:04:13] I like sometimes go back
Angela: [00:04:14] doing?
Jonathan: [00:04:17] and then like pick the
Angela: [00:04:19] Alright,
Jonathan: [00:04:20] yeah. And the back of the, yeah,
Angela: [00:04:23] I get it. I just did that in
Jonathan: [00:04:25] It's like you get that like fresh from the dentist, feeling at home with your fingernails because,
Angela: [00:04:30] Cause those are clean.
Jonathan: [00:04:31] and that's what you're supposed to be doing is
Angela: [00:04:33] Right now in your mouth
Jonathan: [00:04:36] just right in there.
Angela: [00:04:37] Oh no, don't do it wrong.
Jonathan: [00:04:40] on the topic of hands in your mouth, um, children just sneezed directly into your face and mouth, nose, eyeballs, and ears.
Angela: [00:04:47] Yeah. They're gross. Kids are gross.
Jonathan: [00:04:50] I'm going to get sick. I'm pretty sure. Um, which is fine. Cause I. Don't have, I don't go anywhere. Don't go anywhere. See anyone, but Julie can't.
Angela: [00:05:02] Julie, can't get sick.
Jonathan: [00:05:03] no, she doesn't have any sick days. She used them all up. Um, she used them all up on maternity leave. The prematurity leaves too early. And then, yeah. Anyways, so they're all gone.
So she's got one day, I think at the moment. So I'm staying home with Zach and yeah.
Angela: [00:05:21] should

We Didn't Really Have The Time To Bake Bread [00:05:22

we talk more about that? Uh, on this episode, work life balance during COVID.
spoiler alert? It doesn't exist.
Jonathan: [00:05:32] no, I mean, no, it doesn't exist. I was, I was at the beginning. I was quite jealous of people that, um, seemed to be having all this free time.
Angela: [00:05:42] Who had, what? Who, who are these people that had free
Jonathan: [00:05:45] everybody that was making bread and getting bored.
Angela: [00:05:49] Oh, the non children, people
Jonathan: [00:05:52] if they were non children, but maybe it was
like, like people, I don't know. Um,
Angela: [00:05:57] trying new things. Maybe. I don't know if it was a factor of boredom. I think it was a factor of, I need to continue to do something and baking bread might be something I could do.
Jonathan: [00:06:12] Yeah, I don't find any, there's no balance here. It's just kind of endless. It seems daycare has been the best thing
for, for me anyways. Um,
Angela: [00:06:27] day care is awesome.
Jonathan: [00:06:29] especially, cause Zach has adjusted so well to it. Uh, he it's, you know, from eight he's there from quarter, quarter to eight or so until I pick him up at four, four, 15, four 30. And I get a whole day of fairly productive work in and I've shifted.
So I don't have any other time though. Like that's the only time. So I have been getting up at five. So my, my vacation that I took, I took two weeks off.
Right. We
talked about that. I took two weeks to transition Zach to daycare and I just woke up at five, like, cause I do
Angela: [00:07:04] on your vacation too.
Jonathan: [00:07:06] Yeah.

Finding Routine [00:07:07

Yup. On the weekends, I wake up at five, um, and because it was vacation, I wanted to do, do something that was completely unproductive. So I just woke up at five and then went downstairs to play some video games and just loved it. Like it was really, it was really nice. And then Zach got up and I would, you know, go do the day with him.
Uh, and then, you know, do evening stuff with, uh, with Julie, um, And so we had a team meeting and one of my goals that we publicly shared was I'm going to turn that time into, into slightly more productive times. I'm going to exercise in that time. And. Uh, I have not yet done that.
I've done it once. I'm like, Oh, let's do like two or three times a week and I can, I've done it once. And I don't know if it's because I, I'm not motivated in the morning, which I normally am. Like I can normally get up and do some exercise in the morning, but, uh, why I was getting out of bed in the first place was so that I don't sit there on my phone, waiting for Zack to wake up, which sometimes takes an hour and a half. And so, so now I'm just back to sitting on my phone, but I, so, but what I'm trying to say is, so that the daycare has created this big space for me. And because I've gotten quite good at like consuming food in a very, very quick manner. I now do lunch. I will do my workouts at lunch. And I'm finding that really, really nice
because, I've used, I'm used to doing this, but for whatever reason, I haven't been doing, doing workouts at lunch over, over COVID.
Cause I've been home and that the demands on my time have been kind of weird, but now I've gotten back to working out at lunch and, Oh, it's such a great way to break up the day. I get to go have a shower.
Um, I have lunch. I do my workout. I also, the biking is the best because, um, it's a little bit guilty because.
Uh, I'm biking inside, even though it's beautiful outside. Um, but it takes me four minutes to set my bike up versus like however long it's going to take to go outside and find some place to go. And then, um, and then I crank my monitor down and I watch a movie or TV show or something. So it, you know, it feels like double diping a little bit.
It's great.
Angela: [00:09:00] I like that though. So you're finding a routine during a crazy time, but daycare has, has helped you do that
Jonathan: [00:09:09] Yeah, I think
because yeah, and because Julie's back at work, this whole block of time is mine. And so I try to do as much work as I can get done, but I can't, you know, I, I, I'm not going to, I need a break. So I take, I take the lunch hour. Um, usually it's an hour and a half.
Um, Lunch workout or workout, shower, lunch. Um, watch a show. Feel really.
It is. And also I might recommend not doing zoom calls occasionally and just do a phone call,
uh, cause I've done a few of those. And Chris and I used to have, um, weekly meetings where I would phone him from the trainer and just talk to them while it was on the, on my bike.
Um, I really liked that. I don't think he liked it at all. Cause I made him take all the notes. Um, but,
but phone calls are awesome too. Cause you can go for a walk and a phone call. You're not tethered to your computer.
Angela: [00:10:00] Yeah, that's a great idea. since Alex has started, started back at school, school days are quite short, so she was at Nora's daycare for a while, which is a lovely long stretch of time. But now I'm on kind of what we call it. Like I'm on Alex duty and Brad's on Nora duty. So I drop off Alex at school and pick her up.
So I drop her off at 8:30 and pick her up at 2:30. So it's six hours minus drive time for me each day. And my whole idea was that, um, at the end of the day I could bring her home and she's old enough that she could do a few things while I worked. That is not happening
at all. I, I don't, I don't know. Actually, I think it's a combination of the fact that, you know, Alex is back at school for the first time and when she gets home, she wants to have a little like mum, daughter time. She wants to have some chats. She wants to do things. Which obviously I want to be there for her. Um, there was a few things that were happening at school that, you know, required more chats and things like that.
And, and some navigating. So we were working through that. And then . I feel this weird visceral need to like, have things prepped for when Brad and Nora get home for like supper and things like that. So there's all this time. So I'm literally trying to build Clinnect with these new team members that we talked about in the last episode and do everything in six hours minus drive time.
So really let's be honest. This is closer to like five, five and a half hours a day. I don't know. I don't think it's enough. I'm finding myself in the evenings trying, but my, like, my brain goes hard during the day and really shuts down around seven 30, eight o'clock at night, like re like it goes, woo. And then, um, same thing.
I was trying to do the workout in the morning thing and I was doing really good. And whoever says that a habit is, is created in like something like a few weeks, right. That's baloney. I don't know what it is about me, but I think it's like 10 plus weeks for habits to be created for me.
Jonathan: [00:12:19] I don't know that I've ever heard that. And if I did, I, that does sound like.
Angela: [00:12:23] Like
not enough time. Yeah. So anyway, like I, and
Jonathan: [00:12:26] certainly not exercise. No one can, no one can build an exercise habit of morning exercise in a couple of weeks.

The Guilt of Not Spending Enough Time on the Right Things [00:12:33]

Angela: [00:12:33] Okay, well, that makes me feel a little bit better because I certainly didn't. I tried and I failed, uh, it was going really like there for a while and then it just fell off, fell off the side. Yeah. Like, but, but at the same time, I am, am only focusing about five hours a day on Clinnect and Central Referral Solutions.
And we're still moving forward. We're still getting stuff done. We're still like, is it at the rate in which we could, if I had three more hours a day, maybe, but law of deminishing returns, I just don't think that that's three hours a day would equal, you know, 30 to 40% more movement forward. So I met this weird place where I'm trying to balance work and life, and I feel like I kind of have a balance and I feel pretty happy. Yet there's guilt. And I'm like, gosh, I just can't get it right.
Jonathan: [00:13:33] Guilt because you're not spending enough time at work?
Angela: [00:13:35] All of it like guilt that maybe I'm not spending enough time on Clinnect and could we be further ahead if I did, but then if I did spend more time on Clinnect guilt that I wasn't maybe being there for my daughter when she really needed me going through a, you know, a tough situation at school.
Oh, like, Oh my God, it doesn't end. So where do I want the guilt to lie?
Jonathan: [00:13:54] Uh, there's going to be guilt. Where do you want it?
Angela: [00:13:58] I found an okay spot for it to sit right now, which
It's, it's not maybe not quite working enough. I think, I think because I have such an amazing team and your team supporting it. I am a I'm I'm a little bit more okay with it. But as I say that I feel guilt.
Jonathan: [00:14:22] Um, I read, uh, who, who was it now? Somebody tweeted. And suggested, you know, if you're feeling, if you're feeling like not doing a thing or like you're doing too much of a thing or not doing enough of a thing is to think about your regrets, uh, on your deathbed, like skip forward to your own deathbed and imagine what you'd be saying you wish you had done more of, or less of, and, maybe do what your future version of you would would think to do.
Angela: [00:14:50] And I think, and that's an easy one, right? Like I knew I made a decision not to have Alex in afterschool care and take the bus and things like that during a really stressful time. Anyway. And instead mum's there to pick her up every day and I feel really good about that. And so if I didn't, that would be a worst guilt then being like, Oh wow, we didn't get that feature released two weeks

Exhaustion is Not a Badge of Honor [00:15:15]

Jonathan: [00:15:15] Yeah. It's uh, and so like to kind of come back to come back to product and entrepreneurship a little bit, like it, it always kind of pisses me off when people claim that it's the hard work. And I don't mean, I don't mean that we're not working hard, but like working long, like doing 80 hours is what's necessary.
And no, and I think, I think just, I mean, my core, I don't, I don't want to do that. So there's that, but, um, you know, you talked about like there's diminishing returns, right? You're, you're probably most efficient, most productive in these five hours.
Um, you're only doing the stuff that
Angela: [00:15:57] totally.
Jonathan: [00:15:58] and everything else is I'm sure.
I'm sure there's some additional things you wish you could do. And they.
Probably would help, but yeah, like he said, you know, the, your users probably don't really care that much, that they didn't get their feature two weeks ago.
Angela: [00:16:12] No, no, they don't.
Jonathan: [00:16:14] And in the long, like the long scheme of things, if, if the success of this company is based on the fact that you were able to get a couple of things out two weeks sooner,
Angela: [00:16:26] Oh my gosh.
Jonathan: [00:16:27] I don't know that.
Angela: [00:16:29] Uh, maybe that's not the, and that's not really the race I want to be in either. Right? Yeah. I got to agree. I think there is just so much pressure, especially on startup founders to live their work and breathe their work and give everything they have to it. And I just think that's so. Maybe not unnecessary, isn't the word, but I th I just think that's so wrought with issues and it doesn't ever consider the mental health of the founder or their, or their family.
Jonathan: [00:17:10] Yeah. I, I also think it, it miss attributes, the success to the wrong thing. Like, I don't think, I don't think it is the hard work. I think that helps a bit. Um, but I think it's the luck.
Angela: [00:17:24] There's luck and I don't. Yeah, it's not all hustled like this whole hustle life. I'm like, I get it. Yes, you do have to move when you need to move. I get that. You don't need to feel like you're at an all out sprint all the time.
If you do. I think you're doing something wrong, actually. I think that you should like take a step back off that careening train and go.

Getting Buffer in Our Lives [00:17:52

Are we even going in the right direction. And I think it actually goes back to a bit like jus Justin Jackson has talked a little bit about margin um, that one stuck with me a little bit, because at first it didn't totally agree with everything he had to say about it. Yeah. Um, it got me thinking and I, you know, when we do have a little bit of buffer.
In buffer in her bank accounts buffer in our time, buffer everywhere. It allows better decision making. And I tell you right now, I am a better decision maker because of the time that I spend with my kids. And I am a better decision maker because I am because I'm a mom like I, the 25 year old Angela would not make as good of decisions quickly as I do now.
and I think that's, that's important. We get, if we get too caught up and we're running around, like, like we're, we're constantly sprinting, I think we make bad decisions and then you're having to run around fixing those.
Jonathan: [00:18:55] Yeah, I'm, I'm feeling the, lack of margin or the lack of. I like to think of it as like the lack of space a little bit. I like Justin's term of margin there. I think it's quite accurate. Um, I just feel a little bit businessy to, to my life as needing margin, but
like I,
Angela: [00:19:12] say buffer. I
Jonathan: [00:19:13] yeah.
And I'm in that right now. Like I have, been operating with, no wiggle room. Not that this is a small thing to have Zach sort of be out of commission for like, uh, you know, a week or maybe longer. Like that's a pretty big thing, but It is.
hugely disruptive, it's more disruptive than it really needs to be because I don't have any, I had no buffer in my life. Um, cause there's no, there was no extra time to give to that's happening. Like there's nothing. There's nothing.
Angela: [00:19:41] Right.
And there's only so long that we can go without no buffer for, like you said Zach getting sick right now is way bigger impact than it was last year at this time. Because last year, at this time, if you maybe had a little cough, you could probably still go to daycare. No big, no big deal.
This time he's out for like, A week, 10 days, whatever that looks like. Right. And so now our, our margins are being our buffers are being eaten up, especially with kids and sicknesses. Um, if we don't, especially if we don't have any buffer or margin as in help
coming in
Jonathan: [00:20:18] Yeah. There's yeah. There's no help. Cause we're not inviting.
Angela: [00:20:20] We're not allowing people in our homes. And so
Jonathan: [00:20:25] That would also make this easy, right? Like just, yeah. Grandparents can come and watch, watch Zack while I'm working. And my day would be instead of compressed into two
hour window, maybe maybe compressed into a four or five hour window.
Angela: [00:20:37] into into an Angela day,
Jonathan: [00:20:38] yeah, but now it's uh, no, it's like, I gotta get, I gotta get this all done in two hours and then back to. Back to daycare mode, which I, which I'm actually having fun doing. Like we went down to the river this morning and just threw rocks for like half hour straight as I was waiting for the airplane, because the airplane comes in at 10 30
Angela: [00:20:57] Yup. And I mean, kids love airplanes, so yes, I know. And if we can allow ourselves to take the time to do exactly what you just said, if we can allow ourselves to just be a hundred percent in that mode, when we're forced to that in and of itself allows a little bit of mental buffer too.
Like it'll, it, it, um, as much as it's taking away another areas, it allows us to, instead of just fighting it and being like, Oh, I should be doing this. I should be doing this. There's all these things. They should be doing. Dah, dah, dah, instead of just throwing rocks with my son in the river, this is amazing.
Jonathan: [00:21:34] I mean, I guess pretty boring, but
he liked it.
Angela: [00:21:37] And right now, the other thing I wanted to touch on is right now is the time to almost make sure as much as we can, that we do have buffer in our life because of these times that you're hitting right now is that extra buffer that we built out a month ago helps right now so much.
So. Oh yeah. Yeah. That's an interesting thing. What I like it's just feels like such a paradox. Sometimes building this product and go in and feeling like you're sprinting and going 110 are feeling the pressure to. Um, and then I've chosen really, really the other way I've I've said no, like my family's so
important. I can't, they're like, there's so little, my girls are so little, um, that would I be okay with five years down the road in there, you know? Like 11 and what would they be? 11 and eight. And during those times it was like, Oh, well, mommy, it was working really, really hard on this startup. I'm not going to be okay with that.
Jonathan: [00:22:47] Yeah. I don't know who you are. A friend of mine, a friend of mine. Um, Before all this, uh, we were talking about being the parents. Cause he's, he's a slightly more experienced dad than I am, but he, he likes to think of his summers as one of only 18 summers he's going to have with his kids.
Angela: [00:23:06] That like I get why he says that it also gives me like immediate anxiety.
Jonathan: [00:23:12] Yeah, Yeah,
Angela: [00:23:14] gosh.
Jonathan: [00:23:15] it's, you know, it gets a little bit home until they're in their thirties. So, you know, there's, there's lots of
Angela: [00:23:20] Yeah. Cause your 25 year old, a son or daughter is really going to want to spend all that time with you actually maybe 25 year old do 16 year old is maybe the harder one. I don't know.
I don't know. Anyway. and I, and I think this actually ties back into. You know, the part that we didn't talk about in the episode around bootstrapping versus going after venture venture capital or equity capital is. I'm not the founder that's going to go after that either because an investor is just not going to see that in me, the person that's going to spend 12 hours a day working on this because I'm
not going, I won't. And they don't like love to hear that they wouldn't invest in somebody like me because it'd be like, well, I don't know.
Which is too bad because it means then we expect so many people to give their lives over to some thing
Jonathan: [00:24:17] I mean, it's a little bit like that extreme version of capitalism, right? Just a hundred percent utilization of your equipment.
And if your, if your equipment happens to be human beings,
Angela: [00:24:35] equipment,
Jonathan: [00:24:36] do it. Yeah. This one, this one broke. We'll just replace it with a new one.
Angela: [00:24:39] Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Outro [00:24:43

Thanks for listening to fixing faxes, building a digital health startup. I'm Angela Hapke and my cohost is Jonathan Bowers. Music by Andrew Codeman. Follow us on Twitter @FixingFaxes. You can find us wherever you like to listen to podcasts. And please do us a favor and tell a friend. Thanks for listening.
Jonathan: [00:25:02] Uh, I think we should change it from, you can find us wherever you listen to podcasts
Angela: [00:25:06] Okay. What do you think? What do you think we should do?
Jonathan: [00:25:09] well, I mean, they're already listening to us where they listen to podcasts, aren't they?
Angela: [00:25:17] Yes, you're right.
Jonathan: [00:25:18] Yeah.
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