Last Update: October 17, 2015
As a young girl, my dad once told me that if I ate while standing up, all the food I was eating would go straight to my legs.
I immediately pictured a lifetime of gigantic calf muscles. Or, worse, sumo wrestler legs beneath my tiny frame. As you might imagine, the thought scared the pretzels out of me.
Thankfully, I’ve become much less gullible over the years. In fact, I tend to analyze, prove, and question everything. Nothing is sacred.
So when I heard about the ungodly hours that I could be working to launch a startup, I had to dig deeper. I analyzed, questioned, and probed. Is it true that, in general, the average startup entrepreneur works 300+ hours every month? If it’s true, was that amount of effort truly needed? If it was needed, was I cut out to be an entrepreneur?
I conveniently found my answers to be yes, no, and yes.
This Helped Me Achieve More in Less Time
I will admit that it sounds incredibly romantic to quit a crappy full-time job, work 100 hours a week, and turn a $6 million profit within 14 months (which is the exception – not the rule).
But I knew from experience that this was not the way I wanted to build my life’s work. I wanted to enjoy the process, sleep well every night, continue running on a regular basis, and enjoy time with friends and family at every opportunity.
As fate would have it, I discovered that this attitude was the key to releasing myself from the shackles of keeping ghastly hours. This was the attitude that helped me figure out how to achieve more in less time.
Step 1: Categorize Work
I categorize my work into two buckets – “work” and “non-work”.
You can also think of these two buckets as “revenue generating” and “revenue enabling” respectively. For example, work is delivering a branding workshop that directly adds more zeros to the balance in my business checking account. Non-work is the phone call I make to confirm that I am indeed available to deliver the seminar. Any activity that directly adds to the bottom line is work (or revenue generating). Any activity that simply supports the overall operation is non-work (or revenue enabling).
Step 2: Eliminate Non-Essential Tasks
I eliminate or drastically reduce time spent on any activity that does not fit into the two categories described above.
Simply ask yourself “will my company cease to exist if I do not complete this activity?” If the answer is no, then it’s time to cut it out. For example, 2-hour lunch breaks at fancy restaurants, long personal phone calls during business hours, personal Facebook posts and tweets are all great examples.
Step 3: Prioritize Revenue Activities
I prioritize my revenue generating and revenue enabling activities.
Prioritizing activities forces me to complete the most important things at the right time. This in turn frees me up to have a life while working hard toward my business goals.
Step 4: Measure Your Effort
I track how much time I spend on each activity.
This is important because we sometimes feel like we’ve worked a lot. We feel like we’ve accomplished a lot.
But in actuality, we’ve only put in 3 or 4 hours of revenue generating work throughout the entire week. Tracking my hours is easily one of the most humbling habits I’ve adopted over the years. I use a combination of Excel and Rescue Time‘s free edition, to get this done efficiently.
By using this 4-step process, I’m not flailing around in a flurry of activity that doesn’t add business value. I’m not worried about spending too much or too little time working on my business. I can see a direct correlation between the work that I do and the value that I generate.
On the days that things get out of control, steps 3 and 4 make it a cinch to see what tasks can and should be outsourced.
Working long hours developing and managing your business is largely a mindset issue. It’s definitely possible to have a life while running a successful business. It just takes the right mindset and the willingness to apply efficient processes to achieve more in less time.
What are your tips for organizing and managing your small business workload? Post them in the comments below. I’d love to hear them.
Kola Olaosebikan writes, speaks, and even sings embarrassingly on YouTube sometimes. Doing (almost) anything to make sure that you get the inspiration you need to improve the world in your own big (or little) way. Visit BetaMotivation.com to see for yourself. Connect with Kola on Twitter.
© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.