You may remember that I wrote about most people pulling all nighters just being idiots. I had a bit of feedback on that saying it just happens sometimes, which I totally agree with.

Having a sick kid during the day may mean you have to make time up during the night. Having a bunch of extra bills to pay and choosing to take on extra work will mean you have to work extra hours.

The thing is that pretty much everyone you hear talking about ‘all-nighters’ aren’t in one of those scenarios (or a variation of them). What they have is a problem saying NO to work. I get that, saying no is hard. I think that all people running their own business will have a hard time saying NO to work at some point.

The last 3 weeks (and probably 1 or 2 coming up) I’ve been pulling ‘all-nighters’. For me it’s actually a 5am – 9am shift before my regular work starts but it’s the same thing. I have a bunch of extra work and need to get it done at some point.

My reason is that we have a baby coming in January and I’d like to take a few weeks off. We also have $2k in extra expenses coming up with our house. For a short time we (my wife and I) decided that I’d work extra and even weekends to cover the extra upcoming expenses.

A totally valid reason to work extra.

The problem

Here’s where I still have an issue, I’m driven. I don’t think that a successful business owner can be anything but driven. Secondly I love what I do. Even when I’m ‘off’ client work I think about stuff like Sass, or Grunt, or the new date based queries in WordPress.

I breathe development. It’s mental sustenance.

The issue is that it’s so hard to make that ‘short time’ actually a short time. I talk about taking time off over Christmas and then I get emails from awesome previous clients that want me to do some work.

I want to do the work, but I also want to be an awesome dad/husband. In fact I want to be an awesome dad/husband more than I want to be a great coder. No one will stand at my graveside and say that I knew WP_Query best. They’ll talk about how I treated my family and my community.

Even knowing that it’s hard to say no to work. I’m very lucky to have an awesome wife that is involved in my business. Not a bunch (I doubt you will ever meet her at a WordCamp) but enough to know what’s going on.

So when that awesome client comes in with a bit of extra work she can be my backstop. In my case for a bit of work over Christmas she actually said yes. The truth is I’m going to tack away at a personal project anyway. So why not make it something I enjoy and get paid for?

Your backstop

Do you have a backstop? In my case it’s my wife but it doesn’t have to be. Do you have a close friend that will recognize when you’re neglecting the relationships around you? How about one of your parents? How about a mastermind group? How about a mentor?

I think that not having a backstop for your business decisions is a supremely bad idea. If you’re driven then you need someone to temper that drive with reality.

A bit of reality and pacing in your business will help you go much farther for longer.

It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

You can read about how my wife supports me in her series last week about supporting your spouse/partner in business.