It’s not easy being a business owner. Overwork and burnout are two especially common problems with entrepreneurs, and it’s not hard to see why. One survey conducted revealed that more than half of the business owners surveyed worked at least 50 hours a week. About a quarter worked over 60 hours a week! Those levels of activity are rarely sustainable, and over a long period of time entrepreneurs get worn down from these crazy workweeks. You will occasionally hear stories of people who manage to work 80+ hours a week and stay on top of their personal affairs, but these cases are very much exceptions to the rule.
Don’t think for a second that you are weak or lazy for feeling tired. Our bodies were not designed to work that many hours for such a sustained period of time, and eventual exhaustion is a perfectly normal response to long periods of work. If you feel yourself approaching that phase, it’s time to re-evaluate your balance between your work and the rest of your life. Working long hours is part of being a business owner, but that does not mean that it has to completely dominate your existence. There are ways to reduce your workload while still putting in the time and effort your business needs to succeed, and implementing these methods will preserve your physical and mental health in the long run.
Hard work is an admirable trait, but work for the sake of work is a waste. These are some of the ways in which you can reduce your workload and restore your personal time to a healthy level.
In the very beginning, you won’t be able to do a whole lot of delegating. Before you can teach a person to do something, you first need to know how to do it yourself. It’s understandable to have to put in long work weeks for the first few months, but if after three years you’re still clocking in 70 hour workweeks, you’re doing something wrong. Good business owners understand the value of hiring people smarter than themselves to do a job right. An excellent manager and a well-trained crew can do wonders for your bottom line. Better yet, a really talented manager might even see ways to increase your business’ overall level of productivity.
You can’t do it all yourself. So don’t. If you train your workers correctly, you won’t have to do the jobs of four different people.
2) Work smarter, not harder
The law of diminishing returns hits us especially hard. Don’t believe the hype when somebody brags of “working” 80 hours a week. If you were to follow them in their day-to-day life, you’d probably find that their productivity was exceedingly low, and that they were classifying a lot of non-work activities as work. If you are sitting at a desk but you’re not doing much, that means nothing. but if you find ways to squeeze more work in the time you have, you won’t have to put in as many hours to get things done. If you’re using old software, upgrade to something newer. If your store’s layout is inefficient, change it. If your business is drowning in paperwork, streamline it.
As an added note, the GDP per hour worked tends to have an inverse correlation with the number of hours worked overall. Put another way, countries in which people work more hours per year generally have lower levels of productivity. As an example, South Koreans work an average of about 2,100 hours a year, and produce about 32 dollars of GDP per hour worked. The French work about 1,500 hours a year, and produce twice that per hour worked. Smarter work means you don’t have to put in as many hours to produce the same number of goods and services.
3) Manage as much as you need, not as much as you want
A lot of new supervisors and managers run into this problem, but some business owners are this way as well. Your business is your baby – you want people to treat it with the same care and attention that you do! the problem is, some business owners don’t let a person do what it is that they hired them to do. If you believe that you made the right decision in hiring a person, back off and let them do your job. Not only will it be easier on you, but your team will not resent you as much. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep an eye on things, but if you are micromanaging your team on a daily basis, you screwed up somewhere. Whether you are being overly controlling or you didn’t hire the right people, the fault still comes back to you.
You’ll never be able to control everything all of the time. If you learn to let the small details go, you can focus in on the things that really matter.