What if you protected personal time as "family time"?


While you’re at it, can you please stick bicycle spokes in my eyes?

Bob Cramer has taken six tech companies to successful exits, IPOs or acquisitions. Here is how he negotiates family time, from “The Secret Life of a Serial CEO” in the January 2008 issue of Inc.:

“He recounts how he recently considered taking the CEO job at a database company with big potential. But the second round of interviews spilled into a schedule family vacation, and he refused to change his plans. When he returned, he learned the company had gone with someone else. He was a little surprised and disappointed but felt he had made the right decision. After all, he was just following another of his rules: ‘Never regret doing a family thing over a business thing,’ he says.”

Some people are excellent at protecting family time, but most are terrible at protecting personal time.

How would your quality of life change if you safeguarded personal time like Bob safeguards family time, even if you’re single?


Odds and Ends: More videos from Buenos Aires – Taxis and Tango

Crossing under the “obelisco” and flying across the widest avenue in South America, 9 de Julio.

This is the famous “La Viruta” tango club in Buenos Aires. It is 4am on a Sunday night (Monday morning), and these 100s of people have to work in a few hours. God, I love cities designed for night owls!

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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33 Replies to “What if you protected personal time as "family time"?”

  1. …..Nice clips on Buenos Aires. I can’t wait to see that stuff first hand in Feb. It is important to set boundaries, this helps to keep some sort of order to your life. I think having a system for almost anything is key.

    Cool post!!!!!!!

    Siempre Feliz

    Jose Castro-Frenzel, Tx.

  2. At my current company personal time barely exists. As a consultant we’re expected to work late, work from our hotels, check email on Saturdays, and work while we fly. We also enjoy a 25% turnover rate annually. Perhaps the two are related.

  3. You hit on something really important here, Tim. Many companies, coworkers, clients, etc, believe that those of us who are single with no children should, or even want to, fully devote ourselves to our jobs. After all, we have nothing else to do, right?

    I wonder if Bob Cramer would have had the courage to keep his plans, and be honest about them, had they been for a 2-week holiday in Buenos Aires, without his family?

  4. Family events such as vacation, school, activities, etc, are usually known in advance and don’t happen daily do they? I protect my personal time by scheduling it daily. What counts as personal time? Some include the gym, the power nap, the walk to get some fresh air. I try to schedule it as a routine which makes things a lot easier. If I am going to be reading a new book I’ll schedule that time as well but I usually give it a gap between 9 and 11pm where 11pm would be the last ‘start time’ for that personal project. When it hits I’m gone and that’s how it has to be.

  5. Tim,

    Nice to see you are enjoying yourself down there… I added BsAs to my goggle home page weather a few months ago and I must say, I’m jealous! 🙂

    The picture on this post with your “bicycle spokes in my eyes” comment cracked me up this morning!

    hey, where is the pic of your new Argentinean haircut?


  6. Wise words, young warrior. I learned this the hard way, when saying “yes” too often landed me in the hospital with six feet of bloodied intestine. Nothing like having a colorectal surgeon sketch out a picture of the new rectum he’s going to build you to wake you up.

    Of course, old habits die hard, so like smoother, I’ve learned to schedule in downtime. And when I say “no” to things, I no longer feel obligated to add an explanation: a simple, pleasant-but-firm “Sorry, but I can’t” suffices.

  7. I love this blogging style. Meat in the main section and then extras below if people want to read on. Love it. Love it Love it. In fact, I love it so much I’m going to do it myself.


    Thanks, Scott! The format is something I’ve been experimenting with and unsure of for some time, but I find this combo fun to write (and I hope fun to read).

    All the best,


  8. Personal time, what’s that?

    I am always thinking of family time, but never personal time. Maybe it is about time I started scheduling some of both.

    Thanks for the post Tim.

  9. Everyone (except Becky) is missing the larger point. It’s not just a matter of finding balance for yourself. It’s that saying “I have to pick up my kid from daycare” is a perfectly acceptable reason for anyone to leave work on time or not take that last-minute meeting (especially if you’re a man, in which case you will be praised as a saint on earth).

    Sick kids, a dance recital, a soccer game – if you are leaving early or working remotely for any of those reasons, it is 100% A-OK!!!

    If you don’t have kids, all bets are off. There is no reason you can’t stay, you don’t have a family!

    If you don’t have a family or children, then there is no reason at all that is ever judged as acceptable enough.

    Not every company is like this, but most are. The only way you will ever find a company that doesn’t think like this is:

    1) the company is one in a million

    2) the company has an executive who does not have children

    And the problem is, even if your company thinks this way, your clients won’t. and if you don’t own your own company, you can’t choose your clients.

    I’m not inhuman. Obviously a single mom has to get her kid at daycare. But the only time I ever left work on time was when I was a member of a vanpool to and from work & public transportation wasn’t an option. Concert tickets, dinner with friends, medical appointments, thousands of legitimate reasons to leave the office on time… it doesn’t matter.

  10. This message is for Allen. Good Observation, now that you are even more aware of how things are, it is time to decide what actions you are going to take to change things. All work and no play is no fun. Life is meant to be enjoyed, if stress and our jobs consume our lives then we become lost. I wish you the best and keep us posted on any changes you make.

    Viva la Vida,

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

  11. This story is very timely (personal time / family time) as my wife and I are both entrepreneurs / independent contractors. This year we’ve resolved in addition to family time to each include ***personal*** time on the calendar. Family is great, and we’ve always held that in high esteem relative to work (which is why we’re big 4HWW fans), but we’ve also realized that with two home based businesses and a child, it’s just as important to have personal time on the calendar as well.

  12. I like what Tony Robbin’s says on this matter: that the most successful people break down the distinction between work and play. I’m not sure if that is possible for all of us, but it’s an ideal to strive for.

  13. Food For Thought, Used the simple notebook paper folded into fours. Calls to make, Emails to send, Places to go, And things not to Do. The result: Got it all done in 2hrs. Not too bad at all. Thanks again and I will keep you posted as I experiment with these different concepts.

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

    PS oh Steve: what T Robbins says is so true. This goes back to the simple principle of focusing on one event at a time.

  14. Thanks Tim! I’ve really taken the 4HWW to heart. I took a job that only requires working 6 hours a day (even the management). I used to have one that required hours like other people have mentioned.

    I’ve also taken steps to ramp up my blogging business and I will be company free by the end of 2008. That’s in big part to reading the 4HWW.


    Congratulations, Cory! That is awesome and means a lot to me. For reals.

    Pura vida,


  15. So your blogging style is only an experiment? It seems like you’ve been using it for quite a while. Have you gotten good or bad feedback from it? Has it helped or hurt your readership?

  16. I loved this post and I agree 100%. I find that following GTD really helps keep work/personal life in balance. Drinking the Kool-Aid of David Allen has changed my life.

  17. Awesome Cory!!!!!!

    I love hearing about people breaking through the glass of society. A cool place that I wanted to suggest to everyone is Nicaragua. It is actually considered one of the safest countries in latin america. There is more rain forest there than in Costa Rica, this is a fact. Anyhow, thought I might throw out some cool place to vist.

    Everyone keep yourselves pumped and enjoy 08!!!!!!!!!!

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

  18. “Pay yourself first” and “schedule yourself first” are good rules of thumb. If you can first take care of yourself, it’s easier to take care of other people.

    I’ve been using Monday Visions, Daily Outcomes, and Friday Reflections to stay on track and course correct as needed (http://blogs.msdn.com/jmeier/archive/2007/02/04/my-personal-approach-for-daily-results.aspx)

    Mostly it’s about carving out time for the big rocks and playing goalie for the pebbles.

  19. Como andas viajero? Che, te estoy escribiendo en castellano para que no se pierda en el “ruido” de tantos comentarios. Soy otro viciado de BsAs y Argentina en general. Pase unos tres anos alla con la empresa de software que empeze con un socio argentino. Tuviste alguna experiencia de outsourcing en Argentina? Son re jodidos con el tema de negocios, pero hay mucha gente de calidad que hace muy buen trabajo, especialmente en el area de diseno grafico. Estare en BsAs en Marzo por un par de semanas para chuparme unos 20 litros de Malbec y comerme una vaca y media seguida por un helado de Persico 🙂 Si todavia estas, podemos organizar algo.

    Un abrazo de Sydney,



    Good tactic, Mark 🙂 I’d love to meet up, but I’ll be back in the US “a mil” con el laburo. Te aviso.

    Thanks for the heads up, and I agree totally on the graphic design. That said: caveat emptor to those who dip into business here, just like you said.

    Un abrazo,


  20. I have just come back from a crazy time spent with my girlfriend in Budapest and till this very moment (for more than a week) I made a break from any computer. Paralelly, there is a busy time at work and I’m managing the beginning of the training period and even though lots of things are to straihgten, a weekly vacations are worth those few hours of handling with the people 😉

  21. Ah… tango clubs in Buenos Aires.. look awesome. My dream is salsa clubs in Cuba. And since my partner and I are finally joining the ranks of the mobile internet entrpreneurs its all looking a step closer.

    I am a recovering workaholic, and I have to say the reading the 4-hour work week has triggered the ol’ existential crisis… but all for a good cause. Would rather face the demons of compulsive work at the age of 30 rather than 60.

    Thanks for the comment about Nicaragua Jose, will check this out. Bring on the mini-retirements I say.



  22. The opening photo cracked me up–until it made me want to cry. Regarding vacations, it seems like there are only 2 choices these days:

    1)Keep checking in periodically.

    2)Ignore work and fully expect that a sh*tstorm awaits you which will negate your relaxation within one hour of returning to work.

    I am working the 4HWW philosophy, but it’s amazing what a struggle it is.

  23. hey reddknight,

    what are your struggles with it? i’m finding it tough to get set up, but hoping that once everything’s in place it will be easier!


  24. Tim,

    This was one of the most difficult habits to adapt, but the most important. I think for most family professionals, the ability to have more family time is a first step to also having more time to travel.

  25. Dear Tim Ferriss,aka “tunafish”

    I picked your book off a shelf in a fancy bookstore without knowing what it was, looked at the intro and first chapter and was hooked. I loved your descriptions of the job disasters and your meltdown into turning around your worst fears. I think I’m gonna start there. I’ve never managed to get and keep a job I could actually make a living off of, so I figure I’m way ahead of the game of the painfully employed. I’ve lived off small inhieritances I never expected to get and ended up taking care of my mother in her declining years, thereby turning my status as family black sheep and scapegoat garbage can to the person sisters dearest and estate must be grateful to. You have one fast brain, thanks for sharing it with the rest of us. I agree Heath Ledger should not have died at 28.I think it’s stupid they won’t just say what killed him besides stress. Brad Renfro was another young actor who died recently of alcohol abuse. Sincerely Shirley

  26. I think that we always have to make sacrifices if we want to go where we want. But we have to relieze that the journey is the destination not the end place of the journey. These hard Times that we face we have to know that, Its the lows that give us the rope to crawl out of the valleys. This rope further equips us to go further on our journey. It takes pressure to turn dimonds into gold.

    PS: Get In Contact

  27. ‘Never regret doing a family thing over a business thing,’

    I agree with this statement. I believe that if you have a family, it has to come first. At this point your career is supposed to support the family – not the other way around. A lot of career driven individuals are unable to make the switch when family “happens.” That’s a problem. I try to prevent this by using a schedule that accounts for my family time. And I won’t let anything get in the way – other than life itself. [Moderator: additional text and link removed.]