Lots of small business owners struggle with the same thing: the idea that there is not enough time in the day to get everything done. So exhausted, they often see the mirage of greener pastures in jobs with less opportunity because the pressures, responsibilities and endless days have robbed them of their entrepreneurial passion. As inevitable as it might seem, your life does not have to be this way. Here are five things you can do to stop the madness, manage your business more effectively and start having a life again.
#1 – Define your lifestyle goals. How many hours per week do you want to work? and which hours? How often do you want to go on vacation? Create a vision of the lifestyle you want to live and demand it from your business, don’t let your business create your lifestyle. For example, if there is a certain part of your business that requires you to work nights but you would rather be with friends or family, then delegate, automate or outsource this part of your business.
#2 Create a tool or resource to systematize/delegate the fires that consistently eat your day. For 2 weeks at the end of each day write down what you did and what hours you did it during your day. At the end of 2 weeks analyze what you spent your time on. You will be amazed at what really eats up your time. Delegate, automate or outsource the most time consuming pieces.
#3 Designate your first hour of the day for the task with greatest value-add for your business (often the one you never get around to actually doing). Still havent written that Marketing Plan? Commit the first hour of the day to uninterrupted time to focus on it. No exceptions. Even with just one hour a day, progress results. Dont check your email or its a lost cause; your attention is already distracted.
#4 Do something active. Stop the excuses and your business will thank you. Endorphins do more than reduce stress and blood pressure, they improve brain function and enable perspective. Problems that have plagued you all day, will suddenly have solutions.
#5 Plan your day the night before. Be realistic and malleable, but also strive for some level of consistency. Schedule highest priority meetings and tasks first, then make adjustments to the rest to support the lifestyle priorities you’ve identified (time for exercise, having dinner with your family, etc.). Planning the day before can prevent a firedrill the next morning and unexpected overtime for you and your team. Your family and your employees will also appreciate advance notice of schedule changes or the necessity for meetings beyond 9-5. This will reduce stress on you and everyone around you.
Discipline and efficiency are merely the by-products of good work habits. Establishing them is an investment in your business. The goal is not to work more, but to work smarter. Manage your time so it’s dedicated to activities that add value to your business and your life. Take action, demand balance, rediscover your passion, and success will come.
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”
Thomas A. Edison