Do you feel like you can never get everything done?
Does it seem like you work endless hours, but just can’t seem to catch up?
Here are three ways you’re doing it to yourself.
You lack focus
There are all manner of things you could spend your time on. Most of them won’t help you meet your goals. When you spend time on these things, you feel like you’re busy. Maybe you even have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
That sense of accomplishment hides the fact that you aren’t making any progress on the things that matter. Months go by and you suddenly realize you are no closer to your goals.
How do you get focused?
First, you need a focused and clear vision of where you want to go. That way, you can look at all the things that you could spend your time on and ask a simple question.
“Will doing this task get me any closer to realizing my vision?”
If you answered yes, then this is something that matters. If you answered no, then it isn’t something you should be spending precious time on. You’re thinking that there are a lot of things that don’t support your vision, but you have to do. You’re right, there are.
So, how do you sort out what you need to be working on?
The urgent-important matrix forces you to classify everything you need to do into one of four categories:
Urgent and important: These are your top priorities. Work on your planning skills to keep items in this group to a minimum.
Urgent but not important: Delegate it
Important but not urgent: This is where you need to spend most of your time. This is the work of building the business.
Neither urgent nor important: Don’t do things that end up here
Generally speaking, anything that gets you closer to your vision will end up in one of the important categories. Anything that doesn’t goes in the not important categories.
Business owners often get caught up doing all the urgent tasks. That leaves little time or energy for the important work. That’s how you get stuck on the hamster wheel.
Other than not doing this at all, there are two ways to get into trouble.
- Thinking that everything is important. That is never true. Go back and ruthlessly priortize.
- Simply having too many important things to do. See #1. If you still have too much after revisiting and cutting all but the most critical things, delegate.
If this interested you, I’ve outlined a process to make sure you get the important tasks done. That brings us to the second reason you are working too hard.
You don’t delegate
When you run a business you can’t do everything that needs to be done. You just can’t. Neither can anyone else.
That’s why you need to delegate.
Most of the things you spend your time on are things you shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Get those off your plate and you’ll be amazed at how much time you have.
If you followed my advice about the urgent-important matrix, you now have a list of things to delegate.
Often, business owners I work with start to shake and sweat at the prospect of delegating work. Here are the objections I hear most:
I do it better than anyone else.
Maybe you do. That doesn’t mean you are the best person to be doing it. Deciding to spend your time on an unimportant task means deciding not to spend your time on an important one.
The point of delegating is to free up your time. Getting an unimportant task done almost as good as you would have done it is nearly always good enough. And it’s a great trade-off to get closer to realizing your vision.
I don’t have anyone to delegate to.
Not having employees to delegate to is not an excuse. You can just as easily delegate by outsourcing. There is no shortage of outsourcing organizations and virtual/personal assistants out there.
It will require a little time and effort up front to identify and screen them. Once you’ve done that, you get the time saving benefits over and over again.
I’m the only one who knows how to do it.
The operating processes for your business do not belong in your head. As long as that is true, you are the bottleneck in any operation. You are choking off your growth before it can get started.
That brings us to the third reason you work too much.
Your processes aren’t documented
Every routine process in your business should be documented so that someone can come in and understand how to get something done. This does three things:
- makes delegation possible
- ensures consistency in how things get done
- allows your business to scale
It might seem like a real drag to sit down and write out a procedure for doing all the things your business needs to do. That is short-sighted.
Sure, it will take some time up front. But you only have to do it once. Then you reap the rewards for years.
When you delegate something, give them the written process to follow. It will cut down on questions and make it a lot more likely you get the result you were expecting the first time.
If there are documented processes, all employees will do things the same way. This greatly reduces problems and ensures that customers are treated the same way by everyone.
If the processes are documented, that means less of your time needs to be spent training new people. They can pick up the processes for their job and get up and running.
Take the leap
For a lot of business owners, its hard to let go of direct involvement with everything. After all, the business is your baby and you know how you want it to work.
You need to be the leader of your business. That means learning how to leverage other people’s efforts to realize your vision.
Go ahead, give it a try. See how much better your life is when you aren’t working yourself to the bone and you are seeing your vision come to life. You’ll wonder why you ever did it any other way.