Overload is a common problem for many business owners that I speak with. Overload causes stress, steals your time, and lands you in Contractor Prison, also called Small-Business Prison if you’re not a contractor. It can be difficult to manage, but there are ways to overcome it.
In business, there will always be more things to do than there is time to do them. That’s why prioritizing well is so vital. I hope you find these tips helpful.
Reduce Your Personal Workload
As a business owner, you must spend time thinking, leading, and managing. If you’re wrapped up in the day-to-day, then it’s going to be hard to do that since we only get 24 hours, and some of that needs to be set aside for rest, family, fitness, education, and even entertainment.
Get rid of the notion that you need to be the hardest working person at your company. Overworking yourself is NOT a good “lead by example” way of leading.
1: Prioritize Your Tasks and Responsibilities
As humans, we tend to prioritize the things that are easy or tasks we like to do and tend to back burner or procrastinate doing the things that are less desirable. This means that at least some of the most important tasks are not going to get done, get done on time, or not get done with excellence.
Write down the things that you spend your time on and then put a value on each one…not just a timeframe or deadline. Another good way to do this is to use The Eisenhower Matrix: How to Prioritize Your To-Do List • Asana
Either way, prioritizing your tasks and responsibilities will help you in the remaining steps.
2. Automate Tasks
This is definitely one of the time-savers for any business owner. By automating certain tasks or processes you can free up your time to do other more important tasks. Automation can be as simple as setting up a calendar where tasks are automatically scheduled and updated, to more complex systems that connect various business systems together to eliminate the manual work. For instance, at my company, we use Zapier to grab web form leads from our website and push them into our CRM for quick follow-up.
3: Delegate Tasks and Responsibilities
Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses so it’s important to find people who can do certain tasks better than you or who have complementary skills that can make your business run smoother, aka… more consistent. Delegate not only the less enjoyable or disliked tasks but also the more challenging ones that need a team effort. This may mean hiring an employee or finding a contractor to help with specific projects on a limited basis, such as scanning documents old documents so you can search them on your computer.
I have written about delegating before. Becoming good at delegating well is definitely a business skill you’re going to want to get good at.
4: Deleting Unnecessary Files and Old Projects
When it comes to managing time, every bit counts. There are only 1440 minutes in a day, and each one is precious. So don’t hesitate to delete old files, projects, or emails if they’re no longer necessary or if they’re taking up too much space on your computer or on your desk…and even on your mind.
A while back I was cleaning the garage and came across a tray of screws and bolts and washers and nuts that I just kept throwing in there and intended to organize someday. I took one look at it and realized it was gonna take hours to organize everything so I calmly took the lid off the trashcan and dumped the entire tray into the trashcan. It felt so good! Any of those things can be found at Home Depot if and when I ever need them.
Remember that clutter on your desk is one thing, but clutter in your mind is a huge stressor and time-waster. delete, delete, delete.
Organize or Agonize
After you have prioritized, automated, delegated, and even deleted tasks and responsibilities, you’ll be left with the things that you actually need to get done yourself. Here’s a few things that you can do to make the most of it and get the most important things done.
Use A To-Do List Software
There are a ton of different to-do list software options available, but the one that I use and recommend for individuals is ToDoist. It’s free, it has a ton of features, and it syncs with your computer and phone. For team tasks, I use Asana, and yes, when something is assigned to me in Asana, it syncs over to my Todoist via Zapier.
Regardless, use a system. I have people on my team who still prefer a notebook. It works great for them. You know what doesn’t work well…what will let you down… your own memory. Your brain was created to create ideas, not to store task lists. Free up some brain space by getting it out of your head and onto paper. David Allen talks a lot about this in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. I highly recommend this book.
Another great way is to set aside specific times to focus on certain types of tasks and know them all out at once. This is great for when you can put some music on and get “in the zone.” For instance, I process emails three times per day. Once in the morning, once around lunchtime, and once in the evening. If someone needs something sooner, they know to chat, text, call, or walk into my office.
Turn Off The Cell Phone
You need to know that it is OK to turn your phone off for a little while so you can get some work done. I do this all the time. My iPhone has a feature that allows me to turn on Do Not Disturb for one hour and then automatically turn it off. Guess what… your phone has this feature too!
Just make sure to tell your team what you are doing and set expectations first so they will know why they cannot get in touch with you.
Regaining control of your time is indeed possible! Stop letting work take up more and more of your time, without taking the time to step back and reassess what’s important. It can be difficult to break free from the daily grind, but by following these steps I have shared, I think you’ll have success. I know it worked for me!