As a business owner — especially if you have a new or growing business, — you probably put in 60, 70, even 80 hours a week or more.
Good for you! That kind of dedication is what makes businesses succeed.
But if you are working upwards of 10 hours a day, seven days a week, it can — no, it will — take a toll on you mentally and physically, even if you love your work.
Believe it or not, you can cut your workload in half without sacrificing your business. Or, at least, you can go from an 80-hour week to a 50-hour week, or even a 60 hour week to a 40 hour week.
The Trick That Will Cut Your Workload
This method is so simple it will seem silly at first. Based on Robbie Abed’s trick for cubicle workers to reduce their workloads by sending their bosses two emails a week, all it really does is keep track of what you set out to do and what you accomplish.
As with Abed’s trick, there are just two steps:
Tasks You Plan to Finish
Every Monday, write down the tasks you plan to finish/work during that week. Break it down into two parts: Tasks you plan to have done by the end of the week, and “open” items that you plan to work on but not finish during the week.
Your list should look something like this:
Tasks planned for the week:
- Complete project for Clients A and Z
- Begin research/prep on Project B
- Meet with potential clients C and D
- Complete social media goals daily
- Complete financial paperwork
Open Items for the week:
- Complete milestone for Project E
- Review invoices and send reminders
Try to keep your planned tasks within what you can do in less than 40 hours. Don’t include every minor task, such as time spent answering emails, and keep in mind that there will be additional tasks that come up over the course of the week.
What You Actually Completed
Every Friday, write down the tasks that you actually completed, as well as tasks that will be rolled into the following week.
This list should look something like:
- Completed and delivered projects for clients A and Z
- Began research/prep for Project B
- Met with Potential Client D
- Met daily social media goals 4 out of 5 days
- Completed quick-turnaround job for Client F
- Client D had to cancel meeting — rescheduled for next week
- Need to complete financial paperwork on Monday
Or, you can write them on scrap paper and throw them out. It’s not about having the lists, it’s about making the lists, and reviewing what you thought you would get done compared to what you actually got done.
We do something similar like this every weekend with our Weekend Challenges. You can check those out here.
The Cubicle Worker Trick
How does a trick for employees help business owners? Simple: The cubicle worker trick is designed to remind employees that they have control over their own time management.
The boss may give them X amount of work, but probably isn’t setting the number of hours they have to put in to complete it.
In other words, it’s the cubicle employee’s job to manage their own workload, even though they have a boss. You, business owner, do not have a boss — you are definitely in charge of your own time management.
Manage Time, Manage Expectations
One thing this method does is manage your own expectations. If you expect yourself to complete 20 projects a week, and by the end you’ve found you can only complete five while meeting your high standards, you will stop expecting yourself to complete 20 projects in a week.
You’ll give your clients longer turnarounds and charge more for rush jobs that require you to put in extra hours.
Your clients’ expectations will be defined by what you know you can accomplish. If they don’t expect it in 24 hours, the world won’t fall apart if they don’t get it in 24 hours.
And if you’re not promising more than you can realistically accomplish in the set turnaround time, you’re not disappointing clients or delivering less-than-stellar service. It’s all in the expectations.
Conversely, if you get everything on your Monday list done with time to spare, your should look into what you’re spending so much time on.
If you work 60 hours a week doing 40 hours of work plus 10 hours of internet distraction and 10 hours of “networking” with business people you already know, manage your time so that a third of it isn’t wasted.
With all this extra time, I can do more work — depending on how much time you free up, maybe. But remember that occupational burnout is real, and can happen if you don’t give yourself a break.
Give yourself days off, at least once a week, and be sure to give yourself time with family and friends.
In the long run, managing your time effectively and giving yourself time off to de-stress is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your business.
Do you have any time management trick of your own? Share them in the comments!
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