5 simple ways to work smarter not harder. Save time and avoid long hours working to get your own business afloat!
Every adolescent business reaches a point where it pushes beyond its owners Comfort Zone – the boundary within which the owner feels secure in her ability to control her environment, and outside of which she begins to lose that control…As a business grows it invariably exceeds its owner’s ability to control it.
It’s at this stage that the entrepreneur needs to decide if a company will survive adolescence, or shrink back to what is possible as a sole proprietor.
In order to grow, entrepreneurs need to begin working smarter, not harder.
Inefficient use of time is often blamed for the long days of business owners. “Whether unintentionally or not, many of us don’t work as efficiently as possible some or even most of the time,” observes Robert Craven, business development consultant, author and founder of The Directors’ Centre in Bath. “Some owners mistakenly believe that working long hours is the key to success, when they should be working smarter not longer.”
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The key to working smarter is to create an entrepreneurial business whose results are systems dependent rather than people-dependent or expert-dependent.
1. Create Time For Business Ownership
Entrepreneurs face daily distractions and time challenges, and modern technology drives distraction in everyone. Many business owners don’t realize how often distractions pull their focus from what matters most in their business. So many business owners focus more on ‘fire fighting’ which causes them to miss opportunities that help them work smarter, not harder.
If you are bogged down with administrative tasks and not able to market, build relationships and sell, you need to find help so you can work smarter, not harder. Micro businesses rely heavily on sales and business owner results. But without sales, you have no business. So, delegate passive marketing tasks, social media and administrative duties that devalue yourself, your time, and your income. Instead, create time for business ownership, networking, speaking and selling. This shift will help you work smarter, not harder!
2. Get A Handle On Your Control Issues
What I mean by this is that many business owners have issues with control… (snicker, chuckle, laugh). And as a result, many entrepreneurs suffer because of it. Control issues can affect business processes, speed to market, results, sales and relationships. Control issues can underly and result in procrastinating and putting off important work. Other problems with control can affect unproductive multitasking, postponed outsourcing, inability to delegate, difficulty hiring effective and skilled help, and an overall feeling of over-responsibility. Your control issues can all stand in the way of your ability to work smarter, not harder.
If you’re micro-managing it’s draining your time. You need to step back and gain perspective. Consider broad brush-strokes and look at the big picture. Bottomlining will help you plan your best way forward. Design better systems and processes, and use the technology and support around you to gain success. Shifting perspective can help you work smarter, not harder.
Business owners need to concentrate their efforts on high-value customers who can generate revenue, and let go of those tasks that are not directly contributing to the bottom line.
3. Use Time To Manage High-Value, Revenue-Generating Tasks
One of the first steps I recommend for business owners is to track your time daily to get a handle on what’s actually happening for you. It is important to know what is happening daily, because perception is often different from reality. You might think you’re looking at social media sites for a few minutes each day, when in truth it may equal up to ten hours a week.
Once you track your time for a week – review your data and determine where you are regularly involved in time-consuming tasks that do not contribute to your bottom line. For example, accounting, scheduling, follow-up, and newsletters are often more cost-efficient to outsource.
Delegating more responsibility to others could also enable you to contribute more value and work smarter.
4. Avoid Tireless To-Dos & Endless Task Lists
I’m a big fan of task lists to help manage your days but have become averse to endless to-do lists. Daily task lists that are too long can be intimidating and difficult to prioritize. Use the “Top 3 Method” to prioritize your three key results daily. Start off each day with a structured to-do list but be sure to highlight the three biggest accomplishments you need to daily. Focus on those first, otherwise you risk putting yourself under more pressure, while possibly doing a second-rate job because you’ve rushed.
Another key tip to working smarter is to split tasks apart from projects. Projects are those things that may not need daily attention, but a broader perspective and plan. Projects have their own timeline – and usually lead to tasks, but should be tracked, measured and monitored separately from tasks.
5. Establish Work Smarter Not Harder Work Habits
Working smarter not harder means you need to successfully manage your time. To do so establish go-to, reliable routines, exercise self-discipline and say NO to non-essential time-sapping requests. Also, it’s important to work with your own body and physical rhythms. Planning to do difficult or boring tasks when you lack energy is usually counterproductive. Complete those arduous tasks during peak energy times, (earlier in the day), and leave the easier, more enjoyable tasks to end your day when your energy wanes.
Some additional work-smarter, not harder tips include:
- Check your email two times daily instead of constantly interrupting your workflow
- Avoid (or minimize) interruptions
- Screen your calls – send them to voicemail and screen once daily for follow ups
- Stop unnecessary meetings by saying no before they are scheduled
- Chunk tasks into Actions Categories: Schedule, call, follow-up
- Devote concentrated work time to those tasks daily
Business owners who work smarter, not harder usually have a solid plan and routine. Rather than doing tasks haphazardly, successful pros know that they need to establish a consistent starting and quitting times, or ‘Office Hours’.
Working smarter not harder means making the most efficient use of your time – and not extending your day until your focus and energy have diminished. When you’re fatigued, tasks take longer to complete, especially those we dislike. It is smarter to come back refreshed the next day, when you’ll get the job done quicker.
Working smarter, not harder can be accomplished in small baby steps. If one change above enables you to save even 10 minutes daily, imagine what might happen if you incorporate all these ideas into your work smarter, not harder plan?
Share Your Work Smarter Tips Below
What ‘work smarter, not harder’ tips keep you focused and productive? Which tips above would you like to try? Please share your comments in the box below.
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