A full workload is a good thing; it means you're achieving your potential, and you have enough work to stay busy throughout the day. But an excessive workload is damaging because it interferes with your ability to perform each task to your maximum potential, stresses you out, and forces you to forego important or personal activities.
Obviously, the answer is to reduce your workload to a reasonable volume, but how can you do this as an entrepreneur?
The Entrepreneur's Plight
As an employee, the answer to an excessive workload is fairly straightforward; you can talk to your boss
about the possibility of reducing or redistributing your work so you can perform better overall.
But as an entrepreneur, there's no one above you to consult—you're the one calling the shots. On top of that, your workload is a sign of your business's performance and potential; the more you have to do, the more money you stand to make.
Strategies to Manage Your Workload
Fortunately, there are strategies that can help you reduce your workload without compromising your business's success or costing you an excessive amount of money.
1. Switch to All-Digital Recordkeeping
First, invest in a system that allows you to keep all your records digitally
. Managing paperwork is more than just time-consuming; it wastes company resources and makes it harder to find what you're searching for when you're searching for it.
Upgrading your processes to all digital formats—including your CRM platform, your invoice processing software, and your human resources management—will save you hours of work.
2. Automate Whatever You Can
Next, try to automate everything you can. Set reminders for yourself and make use of your calendar app to stay on top of your schedule. Also, invest in automated platforms to help you with marketing, customer service, and simple tasks. Using IFTTT
can help you tie all your devices and software platforms together to stay connected and keep things running on their own.
3. Delegate Tasks
Assuming you have employees, spend some time delegating your low-level tasks to them. You hired them because you have faith in their abilities, so don't hesitate to let them shoulder some of your responsibilities.
It may take a few extra hours to get them up to speed, but once they know how to do it, your whole organization will run much more smoothly.
4. Hire Contractors
If your current employees are overloaded with work or you just need a cheaper alternative to take care of some of your less-important responsibilities, consider hiring a freelancer. You can assign them tasks on a per-job basis, then use them as much or as little as you need. Platforms like Upwork
are good places to start here.
5. Cut Meeting Times
Be honest: how much of your time is spent planning, preparing for, and sitting in meetings? If you're like most entrepreneurs, meetings can eat up hours of your schedule every day
Instead of treating meetings like an unavoidable sunk cost, think critically about the meetings you have and how you can make them shorter (or eliminate them entirely). Few meetings need to run longer than 30 minutes, and most meetings can be replaced with an email update or a similarly time-saving form of communication.
6. Make Communication a Task
Speaking of communication, the constant distractions from incoming emails, texts, and phone calls can easily make you feel busier than you are. Set aside time to catch up on communications just like you'd schedule any other task, and in the meantime, don't allow these distractions to pull you away from your more important work.
7. Schedule Your Break Time
Breaks throughout the day are more important than you realize
. Taking a break will refresh your mind and make you more productive, but most entrepreneurs skip their breaks to get more done throughout the day or work so hard they forget to take one.
Avoiding breaks is counterproductive. Instead, schedule time specifically for a break, and treat it like you would any other task. Taking a break will force you to clear some of your schedule and help you feel less stressed as you handle the rest of your workload.
Through these strategies, you should be able to reduce the number of tasks you do every day and spend more time doing your most important work. The real advantage of these strategies is their flexibility; if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed again, you can ramp up your efforts in any one category. If you find yourself with more free time, you can take the work back.
Customizing your approach is the best way to balance your productivity and time.
Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. She is also a columnist for Entrepreneur.com, Forbes.com, and more. Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.