As an executive leader in the tech industry, the pressure to drive innovation, manage teams, and meet stakeholder expectations can be overwhelming. The stakes are high, and the demands can be relentless. However, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is critical for sustaining your long-term success as a leader and fostering a positive organizational culture at your company.

Work-life balance as a leader is not just about dividing time equally between work and personal life. It’s about finding a harmony that allows you to excel in your professional role while nurturing your personal well-being. This balance is essential for preventing burnout, enhancing productivity, and ensuring that you can lead your organization with clarity and purpose.

Keep reading for practical tips and advice from CEOs and Executives at fast-growing tech companies who are practicing work-life balance while accelerating their career.

How Common is Burnout? Why Work-Life Balance as a Leader is So Important

Burnout is a significant issue in the tech industry, with big implications for leaders and their teams. According to a recent article from CIO that cites a survey from Mason Frank in partnership with Salesforce, 44% of full-time employees experience burnout, which directly impacts job satisfaction, work-life balance, and overall well-being. Factors contributing to burnout include unmanageable workloads, insufficient support, and unrealistic deadlines.

Work life balance is more than just preventing burnout. High performing leaders tend to value work-life balance when considering their work opportunities. “As humans want to work for more than just a paycheck. And that didn’t always used to be the case,” shared executive coach and 3X exited founder Santiago Jaramillo during a session about work-life balance tips at Powderkeg’s Unvalley conference. “30 years ago, people stayed 30 years at [companies like] GE [or] GM, for job security and a pension. And now people rate leadership and management growth opportunities and work-life balance as all more important than paying compensation.” 

Finding Work-Life Balance as a Leader: Do What Works for You

Achieving work-life balance is a personal journey that looks different from leader to leader. What works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to experiment with different strategies and find what best fits your lifestyle, family, and professional demands. Here are a few considerations:

  1. Know Your Priorities: Determine what matters most to you in both your professional and personal life. Use this as a guide to allocate your time and energy.
  2. Be Flexible: Understand that your needs and priorities may change over time. Be willing to adapt and adjust your strategies as necessary.
  3. Seek Feedback: Regularly check in with your team and loved ones to understand how your work-life balance impacts them and make necessary adjustments.

Advice from 12 Executives about Work-Life Balance as a Leader  

Members of the Powderkeg Executive Council and leaders from across the tech community share their best strategies for work-life-balance they’ve found that work for them. Here are some actionable tips to help you find your own balance. Try and see if it works for you!

1. Take Time to Reflect and Recharge

“As we advance in our careers, burnout can hit, prompting the need for an exit strategy. I recall early on making important life decisions poorly and prioritizing work excessively. Anxiety played a big role, often imagined, leading me to act differently than others expected. However, I discovered that stepping back helped me find solutions faster. Reflecting on the real consequences of delay has improved my decision-making process.”

Tim Conder, Co-Founder and CEO at CXology

2. Plan and Prioritize Effectively

“Control your schedule: Create a schedule for your day that includes sleep, family time, workouts, when to check emails/do phone calls. It may not work 100% of the time, but if you plan it properly, even 80%+ of the time will make you stay sane.”

Jesper Kehlet, Founder and CEO at CuroGens

3. Establish Clear Limits on Working Hours

“One way to balance the fast-paced nature of tech startups with personal well-being is to establish boundaries. It’s crucial to define clear limits on your working hours and availability. When the workday ends or during designated personal time, avoid checking work emails or engaging in work-related tasks. This separation allows you to recharge, spend time with loved ones, pursue hobbies, and prioritize self-care.“

Emily Finkelstein, CEO at VentureXpert Advisors

4. Live Like a Kid Again

“To strike a balance between work and personal life I like to dedicate one day every couple of weeks to living like a kid again. I call it my serotonin day, and on that day I drop all responsibilities, deadlines, and goals. I rise with the sun and do whatever I want on that day. Maybe it’s eating Chipotle in the sun while listening to my favorite music for an hour, followed by a walk in the woods. My wife has one of these serotonin days too, and we trade responsibilities with each other on that day.”

Kevin Bailey, CEO & Co-Founder at Dreamfuel

5. Calendar Your Personal Time

“Calendar it. Meetings often consume our time, diverting us from personal and professional success. Have a favorite yoga class? Put it on your calendar. Want to help in your child’s classroom? Calendar. Need thinking space? Calendar. Simply need to knock out those lingering tasks? Calendar. We have to use the time on our calendar for ourselves as much as we use it for others in order to think strategically, contribute positively to company culture, and prevent burnout.“

Megan Noel, Marketing Executive

6. Get Some Fresh Air

“I make an effort to get out every day for walks and to avoid checking email, slack, and work-related texts while I’m doing it. This allows me to get some fresh air (regardless of season and weather conditions)… and probably some groceries and a coffee! That doesn’t mean I won’t take a call if I get one, but this is rare, and my default is to be present, not ‘at work, always on’ while I’m outside.”

Rick McGlinchey, Co-Founder at PureInsights

7. Set the Example by Adding Personal Time to Your Calendar

“As goes the leadership, so goes the team. Employees take cues from employers about the expected pace, duration, and ‘hours’ of work. As the CEO, I make it a priority to put personal appointments on my work calendar. Each day you’ll see time to pick up my son. Sometimes the occasional date night. And now I’ve started blocking time for lunch (with help from my Chief of Staff). My calendar keeps me accountable and makes it easy for employees to see that I press pause, too.”

Jake Miller, CEO at The Engineered Innovation Group

8. Choose Companies Wisely

“The tech industry can create burnout for even the most intense or dedicated employees, so be intentional about which companies you are choosing to work for. During an interview, I was once told by a senior executive, “There’s 24 hours in a day, and then there’s night!” His implication that work should be my entire life was a giant red flag. If you want any work-life balance, make sure you choose the right company before accepting an offer.”

Logan Mallory, Vice President of Marketing, Motivosity

9. Use the Pomodoro Technique

“Navigating the tech scene without hitting burnout? My go-to strategy is all about playing it smart with how I juggle tasks. Here’s the scoop: I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique. You work solid for 25 minutes, then take a break for 5. It’s like short, intense sprints for your brain with built-in recovery time.

The magic happens in those 5-minute breaks. That’s when I step away from the screen, stretch, maybe water my plants, or just do something that gives my brain a breather. It’s not just about pausing; it’s about switching gears and giving my mind a mini-vacay.

And here’s the kicker: every four Pomodoros, I treat myself to a longer break—like 15 to 30 minutes. That’s when I might take a walk, grab a snack, or just chill. This rhythm has been a game-changer for me. It keeps me laser-focused during those 25-minute bursts and ensures I’m recharging regularly. Plus, planning my day around these intervals makes my workload feel more manageable. It’s like having a secret weapon against burnout, keeping me productive and my spirits high.”

John Xie, Co-Founder and CEO, Taskade

10. Designate Unplugged Times

“To balance my work and personal life and avoid burnout, I’ve made it a priority to set clear boundaries between the two. One specific strategy I use is to designate ‘unplugged’ times during my evenings and weekends, where I completely disconnect from all work-related communications. This means turning off email notifications and not checking work messages on my phone. I’ve communicated these boundaries to my team and clients to set the expectation that I won’t be available 24/7, except for emergencies.

This approach allows me to fully engage with personal activities or relaxation, helping me recharge and return to work more focused and productive. It’s not always easy to stick to, especially during busy periods, but maintaining these boundaries has been crucial for my mental health and overall well-being.”

Phil Strazzulla, Founder, SelectSoftware Reviews

11. Allocate Time Blocks

“Balancing work and personal life in the tech industry can be demanding. One effective strategy I use is the ‘Time-Blocking’ technique. I allocate specific time blocks for work, personal activities, and relaxation on my calendar. This ensures I have dedicated periods for both professional and personal commitments. Stick to these blocks and avoid over-committing. It helps maintain a healthy balance and prevents burnout, allowing for focused work and quality personal time.”

Daniel Lynch, President and Owner, Empathy First Media

12. Prioritize Time Based on Importance

“I’ve learned that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is a continual process, and it’s important to be flexible and open to change as your circumstances evolve. One specific tip I use is to prioritize my time and energy based on what is most important to me at any given moment. This involves setting clear boundaries around my work and personal life and being intentional about how I allocate my resources. For example, if I have a deadline coming up, I may choose to work longer hours for a few days in order to meet the deadline and free up more time for myself later. On the other hand, if I have an important personal event or activity that I want to participate in, I make sure to block out that time and avoid scheduling work-related commitments during that period.”

Matthew Ramirez, Founder, Rephrase

Embrace Balance to Lead Effectively and Foster a Thriving Culture

Achieving work-life balance as a leader in the tech industry is a challenging but essential endeavor. By prioritizing self-care, delegating effectively, and setting clear boundaries, you can lead with clarity and purpose. Furthermore, fostering a supportive work environment promotes work-life balance for your team, reducing burnout and enhancing overall productivity. 

Embracing these strategies not only benefits you as a leader but also creates a positive, thriving organizational culture.

This post was contributed to by members of Powderkeg Executive Councils, the only private membership network designed exclusively for tech companies and executives looking to grow and connect beyond the confines of Silicon Valley. Apply today to join.

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