Are you making yourself sick to succeed in business? Burning the candle at both ends? Trying to do it all and wear all the hats because there’s no one you trust to do it the way you would do it – often thought of as the ‘right’ way? Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and at some level of burnout… or heading down that path?
The good news is you don’t have to be a Workaholic Wanda or Will to be successful. There are ways to work smarter, not harder. You can do more, in less time and with less stress, when you focus on the activities that make you more productive (and ultimately profitable) and make some meaningful shifts in how you’re thinking and what you’re doing pretty easily.
And, these days, more and more business owners are realizing how harmful a workaholic lifestyle can be. So you can define what having a successful business looks like to you more than ever before.
Be Aware of and Honor Who You Are When Setting Priorities
Success can mean different things for different people.
There are people who do just fine with devoting all their time and energy to their business. They love what they do, it never feels like work, they work best under pressure, and their needs for personal time are limited. And that’s great, if that’s the case for them. But if you honestly look at your situation and don’t like what you see, I would encourage you to do a little soul searching.
It’s okay if you’re not that person who thrives on stress and is solely driven to build your business. Determine what you truly value in this life and whether your workaholic ways are a problem for you in terms of stress. Then use what you learn from this honest assessment to plan and set priorities that fit with your values.
You may choose to make some sacrifices in the short term to get the business on a solid foundation, but don’t be afraid to lay out a longer-term plan if that’s what’s right for you! There’s nothing wrong with setting a five-year plan where the business grows more slowly, as opposed to implementing a more aggressive two-year plan.
Streamline Your Time and Effort to Work Smarter, Not Harder
There are so many ways a business owner or entrepreneur can work smarter.
Delegating or outsourcing tasks someone else can do to free up your time and implementing systems and processes for repeatable tasks, activities, and operations will make you more efficient – and less stressed!
I know some of you may be groaning as you read this. I get it! Many entrepreneurs resist the idea of systemizing and building processes into their daily operations. You might be afraid that implementing streamlining measures will suck the fun out of being a business owner, squelch your creative side, and cost time and money to get it all up and running. Or you may just not know what you need and what options are available.
With respect to systems and processes being fun and creativity suckers, I can promise you the opposite is true. You’ll have more time to do what you love. And all around, it’s worth the effort to figure out what you need and get it done.
When you work smarter, not harder in this way is it’s a win-win for everyone. If you love long hours and putting everything you’ve got into your business, you’ll have more time to add more of the things you love doing and do well into your schedule.
And if you’re looking for more balance between your personal life and work life, you’ll have more time for life outside of your business to use however you choose.
Work Smarter, Not Harder by Reducing Stress
The idea of taking breaks or time off to improve productivity and work smarter, not harder is something I’ve talked about for years. And I’ve seen some interesting articles on this in recent months.
This takes us back to the idea of having systems and processes in place, since those things make it easier for you to take the time off occasionally. But it’s important to make the mind shift to the fact that taking time off is important – for both your mental health and your productivity.
There are also things you can do in the day-to-day to take care of yourself and ease stress. For example, meditation only takes about 10 minutes, but it relaxes and recharges you. Going for a 10-15 minute walk not only gives you a little exercise, it also gives you a little down time. And being intentional about scheduling your time can also help. Just looking at a calendar that’s overloaded causes stress for many.
So, schedule time for those breaks, be realistic about your time, say no to things that aren’t a priority, and be sure to schedule some time for things like having lunch with friends, colleagues or other small business owners who are also on the journey.
Which brings me to my final suggestion…
Don’t Fly Alone
Think you don’t have time for building relationships in the entrepreneurial community or actively increasing your knowledge base? Don’t let busy-ness keep you from investing in yourself and your business. Isolation can really sap your energy and lead to burnout. And you can learn a lot from the struggles and successes of other business owners. You can also benefit from their lessons learned and share what you’ve learned too. So, get out there and do some strategic networking.
In the St. Louis area, we have a great organization called Experts 4 Entrepreneurs. The group meets once a month and the morning features speakers who address topics that help you live a more balanced life, run your business more efficiently, and achieve sustainable growth. Members get new, actionable ideas and information for how to run their businesses better. It’s a small investment of time and money with a big payoff!
The relationships developed at these monthly meetings are also invaluable. I’ve not only found connections for affiliations and partnerships, I’ve also made some lifelong friends. And there’s no question that the support I get from this group lifts me up and recharges me every time I go.
You could also consider joining a mastermind group. A mastermind group is another great way to bounce things off other business owners and get and give that critical support small business owners need.
Whew! All that to say there are ways to work smarter, not harder and it’s easier than you think! Maybe I should’ve just said that – along with call me.
Cathy can be reached at 314-267-3969 or [email protected]