Getting yourself to stop overworking when you run your own business is often easier said than done. After all, we’ve got many hats to wear, many tasks to accomplish, and limited time and other resources to do it all. It’s why the title “small business owner” so often finds itself in the same sentence as “chronically over-worked.”
But, this flies in the face of numerous studies that point to the fact that consistently working more than 40 hours a week is just unproductive. Simply put, more hours does not equal more productivity.
So where does this leave small business owners and entrepreneurs? Even with all the nifty technology and tools that are supposed to make our work lives easier, our to-do lists just keep getting bigger and bigger.
In reality, a few small tweaks to your attitude and the way you set up your work schedule can really make a world of difference to your work-life balance and your effective level of productivity.
6 Steps to Stop Overworking When You Run Your Own Business
1. Start tracking your time. If you are not formally tracking your time, then you may have only a vague idea how many hours you are actually sinking into your business. So, the very first step is getting some concrete numbers to work with. You can do this with a good time tracking app. I personally use Toggl. But, there are many other suitable options out there, even free ones. Just make sure you are also tracking things that you may do on the go, like checking email and your social media activity.
2. Get the mindset right. The next step is really recognizing the value of having a balanced work schedule- not only in terms of your personal life, but also in terms of your productivity within your business. Realize that overworking has become glorified in recent years to the point that it’s almost synonymous with success. But, it’s a costly mistake. If you want to accomplish more and do it better, then you have to be running on a full tank of gas, otherwise you’ll just stall out.
3. Only work extreme hours in short bursts. Several studies have found that working over-time for short periods, such as two or three weeks, can and does help to boost productivity. Work levels start to fall in incremental levels, however, as this OT becomes chronic. The take away here is that when you are working on your business, you should try to organize the work or project load in such a way that you are not steaming ahead the whole time. There should be deliberate peaks and valleys in your work cycle.
4. Work with your natural rhythm. When are you most productive, and how long can you focus on the given task? Knowing this information and acting on it can help you maximize the time that you are putting into your business. To help you find out this information about yourself, you could take a look at the site Qualified Mind. It allows you to conduct self experiments to determine the periods of your peak mental performance.
5. Take on temporary help. In order to smooth out your productivity without having to strain your personal schedule, one strategy is to bring in temporary help for very defined tasks. You can do this by creating micro-jobs within your business or by temporary hiring freelance workers.
6. Bribe yourself. If you happen to be a workaholic, then you need to create situations that will practically force you to take a break from your hectic schedule. If you allow yourself to put in a ton of hours one week, for example, then do it on the condition that the following week you’re going to take off time to spend with family and friends. And, don’t trust yourself to keep to your promises, either. Get others involved to help you stay true to your personal commitments. You’ll be happier… and so will they.
In short, though today there’s a kind of glorification on overworking, it’s an extremely unhealthy way to work or live. By making a few, simple changes to the way you organize your time and to what you make a priority, you can stop overworking and start bringing in some much needed balance.