Business owners: You're overworked because you choose to be

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Tell me the truth: Are you choosing to overwork yourself?

The quick, unfiltered answer would be, of course not! You didn’t choose to be buried in tasks that seem never-ending. But really think about it, what have you done to avoid overworking and to have more time for yourself?

On the surface, no one thinks that they’re causing themselves unnecessary stress, especially when it comes to their professional lives. Everyone believes that they’re doing their best and that overworking is just something that happens, obviously, it comes down to massive workloads rather than a faulty system.

But is that really true? Is it external factors (like too much to do) or is it an internal problem where you can’t seem to find the right pacing for your business to eliminate that burnout? 

Bad habits, like sticking to unrealistic schedules, overcrowded to-do lists, and trying to carry out impossible tasks have, unfortunately, become some business owners’ day-to-day. Instead of putting in the effort to avoid overworking, they continue down the path of stressing themselves out and leave faulty systems firmly in place. Why? Because they’ve gotten so used to it, it seems normal.

In short: Business owners are overworked because they choose to be.

Instead of ending up stuck and stubborn, increasing the burden of work on yourself and your staff, you can choose to alleviate stress by taking a moment to fix systems and processes and elevate your business to operate at a more rewarding pace. Simple fixes will bring your 50-hour workweek back to a fraction of the time and energy you currently spend, with the same (or better) outcomes.

If you take the time to tweak what you need to, reorganise your goals, and delegate tasks properly, you stop burning yourself out and have more energy to put towards growing your business. It’s time to get smarter about how you work, not work harder to get everything done. Productivity increases when you eliminate overtime bringing you and your staff some well-earned relief and space to put their best into the current task. 

You’re killing long-term success—and harming yourself in the process

Business owners are killing their success because they’re not able to make the adjustments necessary to get their business’ gears turning more efficiently. They often settle for subpar processes because they’re used to doing things that way, and it seems to generate results, but it also results in long nights in the office and an overwhelming amount of stress on their shoulders. 

A big problem small business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs face is the need to control the processes and monitor things closely (or do it themselves). While it feels necessary it’s actually very harmful to your business, as well as yourself, ultimately making you feel unhappy, unfulfilled, and overloaded with tasks. 

Business owners who fail to avoid overworking are more likely to spend less time with loved ones, and lose touch with their personal needs and passions, potentially causing physical and mental health problems because of an unrelenting build-up of stress, creating a cycle of burnout and frustration. This not only increases the chances of health problems but also the risk of lowered business sustainability. 

Being fit and healthy is the only way to be in the business and drive it to success.

Putting in so much effort doesn’t always result in successful results or outcomes. You may get great results starting out, and the energy you put in is worth it, but as it drags out, you become fatigued and lose sight of your business goals and purpose. Ambition is something that we all strive to have, but mixing that with flawed systems will be irritating at best and may cause eventual business collapse at worst.

A business owner needs to sit down and reevaluate what they want and how they can reach it. Rather than scribbling out messy to-do lists every day, have actions you take and measures you want to meet as you step towards that bigger goal. This ensures that you don’t settle for half-hearted success and you can attain the outcomes you were aiming for. Dissecting your business for how it can run better is crucial and a big step in the right direction.

Delegation is the solution

Instead of trying to juggle everything, show that you trust your staff. Not only does this boost morale, but it gets more things done in a shorter amount of time and frees up your time and energy to focus on the things that only you can do.

As well as shrugging off that added pressure, correctly delegating tasks will allow your staff to grow their skills and productivity, making the business more sustainable if you one day decide to sell it. 

Delegation is also great for your self-awareness, personal growth and ego checks. Understanding you don’t have every skill needed to run a business is realistic. By watching others outperform you, it gives you the opportunity to learn new systems, see things from new points of view, be a better leader and (because it’s for your business) you can feel great about the leaps forward your company is taking. 

Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, figure these out and you can capitalise on your staff’s strengths and find ways to improve their weaknesses so they can run the business for you. 

By taking notes of what you love to do (tasks you will keep for yourself), the ones you loathe, are not very good at or never have time for (delegate, delegate, delegate), you can quickly assess which tasks to pass on to someone who does have time and is good at.

Let’s say you’re not the best at crunching numbers but you’ve got a staff member that’s excellent at it. By giving them the task, you lessen the chances of errors and also have fewer things to do, letting you concentrate on what you are good at. Your focus can go to the other aspects of your business that you’re more well-versed in such as marketing, generating leads, and networking.

You will also need to avoid micromanaging when you decide to delegate, as it burns out not just you, but your staff as well. It can be “growth-inhibiting” and can sink your business. Laying out that foundation of trust with your staff will sometimes feel like a gamble because you never know if they’ll carry out tasks the same way you envision them to, but they can also give you a new perspective on things that may surprise you.

By playing to your staff’s strengths, as you do with yours, you will maximise productivity and increase your chances to scale and grow

Divide your own tasks

Now that you’ve successfully delegated tasks to those who have the skillset to carry them out, it’s time to figure out what you need to be working on. Usually, the tasks you carry out will be the ones that help you stay passionate about the business and the overall day-to-day operations of the business (without prying into the tasks of others, of course!). 

But that can be confusing in itself with all the emails, calls, and meetings involved. It’s dizzying enough to try and run a business, but when you own that business, it’s usually an emotional attachment and you want to do well. This is why when you fail to carry out your tasks, you can be doubly hard on yourself. 

Time management for a business owner is crucial because it keeps you on your toes and ensures that you’re in the right place at the right time. That goes hand in hand with knowing your priorities and which ones to tackle first. 

Instead of breaking up tasks as “small'' or “big,” we’ve thought them up to be low or high effort tasks that yield low or high impact. 

This is why we’ve created a matrix to help you best understand what kinds of tasks you need to carry out and how to best tackle them.

The upper left quadrant is the most rewarding as it represents low effort (easy) tasks that create high impact. These should be carried out the most and the soonest as it helps you build momentum for more difficult tasks that you can break down into smaller, more manageable ones when it comes to high effort, low impact tasks. We recommend that you do those last as they can be draining and cause you to run out of steam.

Carrying things out like this will help you budget your time better and manage your energy throughout the day. It’ll minimise burnout as you will already have delegated out those hard slog/ low impact tasks and now you can work through your list without having to juggle several different things at once. 

You’ll also have a better idea of how you can prepare your schedule and what items to tackle that will be rewarding and empowering. For example, getting back to calls doesn’t require much energy and can feel satisfying as you can end up with leads or conversions, yielding high impact results.

Difficult tasks that take up more of your main role may not feel as easy, but blocking out the time to do the work and breaking them down into manageable chunks will make the immense effort it takes into something more doable and boost your morale as well! 

This kind of process will help you achieve better growth and results without burning yourself out. Just because you’ve been accustomed to doing things a certain way and associated overworking yourself with success, doesn’t mean you have to live and work this way forever. You can get your free time back and fall in love with your business all over again if you take a moment to fix the energy-sapping processes that are preventing your business from running smoothly, and, from there, thrive as a business owner.

If you want to grow your business without overworking yourself, give us a call.

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