You really meant for 2023 to be different. This was going to be the year you would have a good plan, work the plan, and start to regain some of your life back. You weren’t going to continue working long hours. You would start to find a little more balance in your life. But here we are in March, and 2023 is starting to feel a lot like the previous years.
There is so much to be done, and your business needs your attention. If you don’t do the work, it won’t get done.
And so you continue putting in those long days to keep the needle moving forward. But you’re exhausted.
While working long hours may be a common trend among leaders and business owners, it should not be worn as a badge of honor.
Many negative side effects come with working long hours. The Cleveland Clinic shares the following side effects of working too much:
- Not getting enough sleep
- Not eating during the day
- Skipping exercise
- Neglecting relationships
- Turning to drugs and alcohol
Do you see any of these in your life? How about any of the following signs that you have an unhealthy work-life balance:
- You have chronic pain
- Constantly tired
- Low patience levels
- Don’t remember the last time you enjoyed your day
- Struggling relationships
- Your physical environment is a mess
- You are constantly on your phone
- You’re not sure what your priorities are
- You are striving for perfection
If you identify yourself in the warning signs above, it’s not too late to make a change.
Steps business owners can take to avoid working long hours
One of the first things you need to do is get clear on your priorities. If you’re used to working long hours, you’re likely trying to accomplish more in one day than is possible for you to do in a healthy amount of time. Make a list of tasks you need to do and then prioritize them. This helps you see which tasks are the most important to complete.
While reviewing your list, note tasks that could be delegated, automated, or stopped altogether. If you want to stop working long hours, you need to be willing to look hard at your to-do list and become more realistic about what you can accomplish in a day.
You must learn how to delegate tasks properly if you have a team around you. Look at your list to find tasks that need to be done but don’t need to be done by you. Create a system or process for completing the task and then teach it to someone on your team. You can even simply turn over some tasks while allowing them to complete the task in their own way.
It’s crucial to remember that if you’re delegating a task, you must also delegate the resources and decision-making power necessary to complete the tasks. Otherwise, your team constantly has to run back to you for help. So set them up for success and you up for a shorter work day by delegating properly.
Thanks to the advances in technology, there are many tasks that can be automated in your workday. I won’t go into too many details because this step will vary greatly from one person to the next based on your type of business. For example, you could automate any tasks added to your calendar being added into your task management system, or vice versa. You could automate email sequences to follow when potential clients complete forms. And you can automate invoices to be created and sent based on the prior step being completed in your process.
If you get creative, there are many ways to automate some of the mundane, time-consuming tasks you do daily.
4. Set boundaries
Sometimes the issue with working long hours is a lack of boundaries. You’re the boss, so you can set your own work hours. Unfortunately, for many business owners and entrepreneurs, that means working all hours of the day. Establish boundaries to help keep your work life from taking control of your entire life. Establish hours and rules for when and where you will work.
5. Time management
Several time management techniques may help you make better use of your day. For example, the Pomodoro Technique helps you work uninterrupted on a specific task for a set amount of time, giving you a short break when the timer goes off. Strategies like this may help if you have difficulty staying on task. In addition, you can download many free apps that try to help you make better use of your time and stay focused.
If there is too much to do, but it all needs to be done, it may be time to outsource some of the work. Look for freelance contractors or other companies who can help carry some of the load for you. Look for tasks that you can be completed by others at a lower cost. This provides you the opportunity to focus on your core business functions while still being able to reduce the number of hours you’re working.
7. Take a break
Regular breaks throughout the day and for personal days and vacations can help you avoid exhaustion and burnout. Taking breaks may feel counterintuitive when you’re already too busy, but it’s good for your mental health. And rested people are more productive, so you’ll likely find you work better when you don’t feel you’re always working.
8. Seek advice
You’re not alone in your struggle of working long hours. Talk to other business owners and leaders you know to see what they’re doing to balance all the responsibilities. Ask for their recommendations and advice. You can also take this a step further by getting the help of a business coach.
A coach can help you identify your priorities, where you can delegate, the next steps you can take as your business grows, and how to set boundaries around your work schedule. This will help you gain a new perspective on your business and help you find new ways to improve your workflow to reduce your working hours.
If you want to explore business coaching options, contact us today for more information.