Are you quickly growing tired of burning the candle at both ends? Or maybe you’ve already reached the point of burnout and know that something needs to change in your schedule. Whatever you are, you’re not alone. Many entrepreneurs, small business owners, and leaders are caught in a cycle of working too many hours each week. If you can relate, these tips can help:
1. Establish your priorities
Understanding your priorities is one of the greatest ways you can gain control of your work schedule. If you find yourself working long hours, it can be a sign you struggle with knowing what your priorities are.
Make a list of all the tasks you do on a regular basis and how you spend your time. Then, look through the list and look at what tasks you do that actually move you toward your goal. You will likely find a few tasks that don’t need to be done, can be done by others, or can be altered in some way. If you find that you’re spending time on things that aren’t important, take them off your list.
When you’re overwhelmed with responsibilities, it’s important to understand what the most important things are. This can allow you to get down what “must” be done without working all day and night.
2. Limit the number of tasks on your to-do list
If you’re someone who can’t stop for the day until your entire list is crossed off, then you may need to stop putting so many tasks on your list. Ideally, you will have no more than six items on your to-do list. If you’re being honest, if you put 15 tasks on your list, you’re not able to accomplish them within a realistic amount of time during the day.
However, if you choose to put only the six most important tasks on your list, you’re more likely to cross them off and head home at a decent hour.
3. Delegate tasks to others
Another way you can reduce your working hours is to delegate some of your work to others. We understand delegating can be challenging for many people. It’s hard to pass off work that you are ultimately responsible for. However, this is a key step to growing as a leader. In addition, when you begin to delegate more work, it can be used to help grow new leaders within the organization as well.
If you want to know more about delegating, read the following blog posts:
- 6 Tips for Delegating as a Leader
- Why You Need to Delegate More and Do Less
- 3 Habits that Are Holding You Back
4. Eliminate time-wasting activities
Some people work long hours because they waste a lot of time during the day. We aren’t pointing any fingers but encourage you to look at the amount of time you spend in meetings, checking emails, scrolling on social media, or chatting with coworkers. While none of these things are necessarily bad to do, it’s easy to spend too much time doing these.
Make sure you don’t waste time in unnecessary meetings. Limit the number of times you check email throughout the day. Save social media for after work, and even then, limit your time on it so you can enjoy time with family and friends. Batch important phone calls instead of taking them all throughout the day.
Look for the small time wasters you have in your day and work to eliminate them.
5. Find tasks to automate
Another way to reduce the number of hours your work each week is to find tasks that you can automate. This is one of the blessings of having so much technology in our world today. Look at the repetitive tasks that you do on a regular basis and find ways to automate them. These tasks can be simple such as writing canned email responses for common questions you are asked. Or, they can be more complex such as adding a chatbot to your website to answer basic questions.
6. Reduce your availability to others
While an “open door policy” is nice in theory, it also makes it difficult to accomplish tasks if you have people popping in to talk to you throughout the day. Many successful leaders don’t operate like this. Put a system in place to allow important or necessary conversations to happen at a time that works best for you. This could be accomplished through setting hours where you have an open door or having all requests funnel through an administrative assistant who knows what is truly important and what’s not.
While team apps like Slack can be helpful, it’s also important to put boundaries around how they are used. People should not be expecting to get immediate responses from you every time they ask a question, and you shouldn’t expect yourself to respond in that manner, either. It is much easier to accomplish the tasks on your to-do list when you have uninterrupted time to work.
7. Choose a quitting time
If you don’t set boundaries around your schedule, work can expand to fill the time you allow. This is especially true for business owners, entrepreneurs, and people who work from home. Establish a time when you are going to be done working for the day. Then, stick to it. Go home. Close your laptop and put it in a different room. Once your quitting time arrives, put your work away. And I even encourage you to not check email, turn off notifications on your phone, and allow yourself to be done working for the day.
When you do this, you will begin to find a better work-life balance. You will find that you start enjoying your personal time more because it isn’t being broken up constantly to respond to work-related situations.
Now, of course, there are emergency situations that arise or times when you might be “on-call,” but do your best to establish boundaries and stick to them.
Work with a coach to learn strategies for your specific situation
There are many generic tips you can learn to help improve your time management skills so you can work fewer hours during the week. However, if you want to make real and lasting progress, we encourage you to find a mentor or coach who can lead you through the obstacles you’re facing. Contact us today to explore your small business coaching options with SPEARity.