A couple of weeks ago I published an interview with 12 top online entrepreneurs, where they were talking about their work habits. As many readers pointed out, and I agreed, the interview was not as rich as it could have been, because no woman was included in it.
I wanted to fix that mistake, and I decided to shoot the same questions to some very successful women I know. The result is the interview below. You’ll find they work just as hard as the men, if not harder (because most have to juggle family and work related tasks).
Pamela Slim: Pamela Slim helps frustrated employees in corporate jobs break out and start their own business. Her blog, Escape from Cubicle Nation, is one of the top career and marketing blogs on the web.
Lisa Barone: Lisa Barone is Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer of Outspoken Media, Inc., and is one of the most respected voices in the SEO industry.
Valeria Maltoni: With 20 years of corporate experience, Valeria is a leading brand strategist. Her blog, Conversation Agent, is ranked among the top 25 marketing blogs in the world according to AdAge.
Tamar Weinberg: A social media guru, Tamar provides consulting services top brands on the web, including Mashable. Techipedia, her blog, is a must read for anyone interested in social media marketing.
Lisa Stone: Lisa is the co-founder of BlogHer, the largest community of women who blog. The site receives over 20 million monthly visitors, and it also hosts a conference and an ad network.
Elisa C. Page: Elisa is the co-founder of BlogHer. She manages its events, marketing and corporate operations. Before founding BlogHer she spent 13 years working in Silicon Valley.
Jory Des Jardins: Jory is the co-founder of BlogHer. She also writes on women’s business issues, marketing, blogging, and entrepreneurship for publications such as Fast Company.
Tina Su: Tina used to be a software engineer with Amazon, but in 2007 she decided to quit and pursue other projects. At Think Simple Now she writes about productivity and personal development.
Erica Douglass: At the age of 26 she sold her business for over $1 million. Now she writes about entrepreneurship on her blog, helping other people start an online business.
Wendy Piersal: Wendy created many successful websites over the years. She is also the founder of the Woo! Jr. Kids Activities Network, which is her main gig currently.
1. How many days do you work per week?
Pamela Slim: 5, with occasional small projects on weekends.
Lisa Barone: 5-6
Valeria Maltoni: 7 days a week.
Tamar Weinberg: I work 7 days a week, but I’m a Jewish Sabbath observer, so I’m offline from Friday night until Saturday night.
Lisa Stone: 7 days a week.
Elisa C. Page: 7 days a week.
Jory Des Jardins: 7 days a week.
Tina Su: 1-2 days.
Erica Douglass: Usually 6-7. If I start feeling burned out, an easy remedy is to take a full day off.
Wendy Piersal: As much or as little as I want.
2. How many hours do you work, in total, every week?
Pamela Slim: 50-60 hours.
Lisa Barone: It varies. There are weeks where I’ll be pulling a 60 hour week and then I’ll balance it out with a 30-35 hour week. It all depends on what’s scheduled to go out, how fresh my mind is, and how much coffee there is in the house.
Valeria Maltoni: About 60+ with customers and another 28-30 consistently on learning, writing, researching for the social media immersion.
Tamar Weinberg: I really don’t have a good sense of this because work to me is pleasure. I’d say 50-60 hours, though I could be totally off the mark here. Usually when I’m sitting at the computer, I’m working in some capacity.
Lisa Stone: Hard to say. Some weeks 50, some 80. Average is 60-65.
Elisa C. Page: I would agree with Lisa’s average: 60-65.
Jory Des Jardins: With travel the number goes up, but I would say 60-65.
Tina Su: 10-15 hours.
Erica Douglass: It’s hard to gauge. Recently I’ve started using the RescueTime plugin for Firefox to see where my time goes, and it suggests I work 40-45 hours a week.
Wendy Piersal: I’d say probably between 7 and 10. If I’m feeling ambitious and productive, I’ll work 20-25 hours a week.
3. Do you have a fixed work routine? How does it look like?
Pamela Slim:I check email/Twitter first thing in the morning, about 5am. I attend to anything urgent. 6-8am I get my toddlers fed, dressed, do a small project with them (drawing, cooking, etc), then take them to school. I get to the office about 9am. I try to write posts or articles between 9-11am. That is my best creative time. Mid-day is usually coaching sessions, teaching or interviews. I pick up my son from school and take him home mid-afternoon. Then I get back to the office and catch up on email, plan, or sometimes teach a class till 5:30 or 6:00pm.
Lisa Barone: No. I create a To-Do list on Sunday evenings and then work off of it for the rest of the week. How, when and where I get each task done, though, depends completely on my mood that day, which is one of the perks of working from home. Being able to change things around at whim helps me to remain creative and keeps my mind fresh.
Valeria Maltoni: Work from early am straight through lunch and into the early evening. Then take a 5-mile run on most days, then resume with the personal social media immersion part integrated.
Tamar Weinberg: Nope, definitely not fixed. I’m a work at home mom, and as mentioned earlier, I’m working as soon as I get to my computer until bedtime. All my work is done around my son’s schedule. I’m definitely not a 9-5 worker and am most productive late at night.
Lisa Stone: Get up. Work. Parent. Work. Parent. Work. Sleep. Repeat.
Elisa C. Page: Work from home ~6:30-9AM (to avoid being on the road until after carpool lanes open), Commute in 9-~10AM, work in office 10AM to between 6-7PM, home, dinner, watch TV with laptop firmly ensconced on lap, Sleep…typically 6 hours.
Jory Des Jardins: I hit my email around 7, and leave for the office by 8. I have an hour commute, so I get in between 9-9:30, then work till 5-6, go home, work out, have dinner, and am back on email after 8. I’m an emailer/TV watcher too. On days I work from home I just work through the commute times.
Tina Su: I typically spend one day a week where I am completely focused and dedicated on my work. I call this my writing day. On this day, I turn off all distractions – I get a baby sitter, turn off the phone, and doesn’t do any web browsing. I park myself at my desk around 8am with my writing ritual of “writing music”, noise-canceling headphones, and a large cup of hot chai. My little ritual gets me instantly into the creative zone. I only get up for bathroom or meal breaks, and continue until my desired work is finished, usually around 6-8pm. For the rest of the week, my schedule is completely flexible and revolves around my baby. I put in 30 minutes here and there to check emails, and do some online promotions. But mostly, I spend the rest of the time focused on being well, being happy and thinking about new ideas.
Erica Douglass: I get up in the morning and check my email and clear through as much of it as I can. Then I grab some water and a quick light, fruity breakfast (today’s is a banana) and decide which weekly tasks I want to work on. Usually, the night before, I’ll decide what I want to get done for that day. Wednesdays are my “blogging days”; on Wednesdays I focus on creating blog posts and don’t do any other creative work until at least one blog post is ready to publish. My posts are typically 1500-2000 words and take me, on average, 3 hours to create.
Wendy Piersal: Generally I spend about an hour every morning getting caught up on news, and then about 30 minutes analyzing stats. I ensure I get at least one blog post up every weekday, and all that gets done before my kids get home around 3:00pm. But like I said earlier, sometimes I get all of my blog posts done in one or two days, which frees up my time on the other days to do other things, depending on my schedule.
4. How many times per year do you take vacations, and how long are they?
Pamela Slim: Vacation? Just kidding. I usually take a week at the holidays and a week in the summer. This needs to change. We need more down time, and I will work on that.
Lisa Barone: I shoot for a week a year, typically in the summer. This year I’ll be roadtripping down to the Keys in June for 10 days over my birthday. I’ll also take a long weekend after a conference to recharge and give my fingers a break from all the liveblogging. I listen to my body. It knows when I need to stop for a mental health day.
Valeria Maltoni: It depends. I take a day here and there if I want to do something cool like going to NYC to see a show. I take 2 weeks for the Christmas holidays/New Years to visit with family, if I go to Europe. I still do the social media immersion part during that time. That part is always on.
Tamar Weinberg: I don’t know what a vacation is anymore. 🙂 If I do travel (and I barely do), I never unplug, so it’s almost as if I never went anywhere.
Lisa Stone: Once per year for two weeks. Completely offline. Rest of vacations tend to be working vacations.
Elisa C. Page: I need to get much better at taking offline vacations like Lisa. She’s the master. And I’m not there yet. Last year I took my first 2-week vacation ever and went to Africa. But I tend to fall way behind on taking vacation.
Jory Des Jardins: I goal to take at least one big one per year (at least a week). But more often I take about 4 long weekends. And I usually take the holidays for as long as I have remaining vacation days–10 days-2 weeks.
Tina Su: 2-3 times a year. For each of the past two years, I took 3 months off to travel. Now that I’m a new mom, traveling isn’t high on my priority list, so we’re doing shorter and more frequent get-aways.
I learned that by shifting my perspectives on how I view the things that I do, that it is possible to be established in a feeling of Joy regardless of what I am doing. And that if I enjoy everything that I do on a moment to moment basis, everyday becomes a vacation.
Erica Douglass: Richard and I travel a lot. We’re typically away from the house at least one weekend every 6 weeks or so. Richard travels every week for his job, and recently earned a “companion pass” on Southwest, which means I fly free whenever he flies somewhere. Usually, we both fly free since he’s accumulated so many frequent flyer miles thanks to his job. We’re working on visiting every state in the U.S.
Wendy Piersal: In the last few years, we haven’t taken many formal vacations, opting instead for several mini-vacations on long weekends. They are easier on everyone (time, planning, budget, etc.) and offer us more frequent breaks from work. We still prefer this over long vacations, even though now we can afford to take them. That being said, we might go on three this year, but only one has been truly ‘planned’ – a week in a rented house on a lake in Michigan.
5. How many hours per day do you spend on email?
Pamela Slim: One if I am being efficient. Three if I get bogged down in details.
Lisa Barone: More than I’d care to, probably 2-3. I look in the morning and then again before I’m about to sign off for the night. I received a lot of untargeted email from people looking for free advice or folks who just want to chat. I like the interactions but sometimes email does a really good job at becoming a time suck.
Valeria Maltoni: Seems like all day. I have 3 email accounts, 2 are very active. I don’t do blocks of time, I handle as appropriate as it comes through — read and file, pass on/delegate, or handle.
Tamar Weinberg: Email is a big part of what I do for some projects, and I *hate* leaving emails unanswered. That still brings me to 2-3 hours per week, though I could be off the mark here too. Time flies when you’re having fun. I truly enjoy what I do — just about every minute of it.
Lisa Stone: When I’m sleeping I’m not on email and I try to get 6+ hours.
Elisa C. Page: Always on…whether by laptop, iPhone or iPad 🙂 (Had to name-check my gadgets, I’m a gadget freak.)
Jory Des Jardins: This question is most easily answered by determining what I’m not on email. Like with Lisa, take 24 hours, minus 7 to sleep, 2 for commute, 1 for dinner, 1-2 for my workouts, and 3 during the day when I’m on calls/in meetings, and you get 9-10 hours a day. Though when I’m traveling that number is reduced by flight times.
Tina Su: 30 minutes. I try to spend as little times as I can on email, since it can be such a time consuming “addiction”. I learned that by checking email less frequently, and being more focused and methodical when I am doing email, I am more efficient and effective.
Erica Douglass: RescueTime says I spend just over an hour in email every single day, 7 days a week. This surprised me. Recently I’ve started a trend whereby I try to get my email inbox down by 10 messages per week. This week I’m going from 60 to 50 emails in my inbox, for instance. It means things don’t get too clogged in there. I get a lot of email, so I have to work on it pretty much every day.
Wendy Piersal: Way LESS than I should – answering emails is my Achilles Heel. I’m worse than terrible at it. If I stayed on top of it my work week would instantly double, if not more than that.
6. When you are not working, what are you doing?
Pamela Slim: Hanging out with my family. Attending live creative events here in Phoenix like Ignite. Heading to art shows or community festivals or fun places with the kids on the weekends.
Lisa Barone: I’m spending time with friends, checking out local roller derby, cruising book stores, watching sports (Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots), running, hiking and/or people watching. As a writer, I also do a fair share of reading.
Valeria Maltoni: Reading, researching, running, observing, learning. I’m all business.
Tamar Weinberg: Enjoying my family.
Lisa Stone: Parenting. Occasionally reading. And very occasionally working out. But I spend about 1/3 of the week parenting, 1/3 working, 1/3 sleeping. And? I actually love all three so am happy as can be. Wouldn’t be nearly as good at my job if I weren’t a parent.
Elisa C. Page: I try to read a bit of non-work-related material every night, maybe 20-30 minutes before bed. I try to go walking a few times a week. I try to see live theater or music at least once a month. I’m trying to cook more. I get together with my family (parents and 3 siblings, all local). But the truth is, when I’m doing almost any of that stuff, there’s a part of my brain that’s still working through ideas and problems having to do with work. Turning that off, at this stage of our company’s life, is very VERY hard.
Jory Des Jardins: I take walks and hike with my husband a few times a week and try to take in an exercise class once a week. I will fixate on an HBO or TV series and schedule time to watch it, usually before bed. I also have three or four books on my bedstand that I read, whichever one I’m in the mood for. On weekends and some nights I try to write and read blogs that are unrelated to work.
Tina Su: Caring for my newborn son, and reading inspirational books.
Erica Douglass: I take a Spanish class every week. We have an annual zoo pass and, of course, often go outside and hang out, since the weather is so nice year-round here! One of my favorite things to do is just to get something to drink or a snack and eat it out on the beach. I watch some TV as well, and we got out to movies occasionally. Richard and I are also both into board games; currently we’re playing “Agricola” and working on setting up a local board game night!
Wendy Piersal: I’m an artist at heart, which many people don’t know about me. Lately I’ve been dabbling in fashion design, sewing, painting/drawing, and interior design. In a few months it could be completely different and I might be knitting and buying myself a pottery wheel! I feel truly blessed that all of my hard work over the last few years has now allowed me the time to pursue my creative endeavors.