When you own your own business, it’s easy to be pulled in many different directions at once. You might be the owner, but you also might be the one sweeping the floors and unclogging the toilets. Small, and even mid-sized business owners have to be jack-of-all-trades. They are the ones who are the most motivated to get the job done so they become the IT department, the Customer Relations department, the HR department and just about any other department you might think of. This is especially true when the business is just starting out but even after they are well established, many business owners find it difficult to pay someone else to do something that they can do themselves. Eventually some of these necessary, but time-sucking activities can make you take your eye off the prize. THAT can affect the bottom line.

Business ownership can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be exhausting. According to small business owners, as polled by Vistaprint, there are a variety of things that keep them busy. 64% said that they are driven by the need to make more money. 56% said they just have “lots” of things to do. 36% said that they just wanted to feel more productive and a staggering 70% say that they often have to skip meals. Nearly half of the business owners polled said that their sleep was affected by their business. In a lot of ways, the nature of small business is such that you always feel like there’s something else to do.

What Can You Do?

You have to find balance. When the buck stops with you, everything seems like its THE most important thing. But you have to learn to prioritize. In my own businesses, I have often felt overwhelmed and only concentrated on the fire that was burning brightest….usually at the expense of something else that was more critical. The trick is to never let things get to the point that they are burning! It’s not healthy OR productive when things get out of balance. It is important that you make relaxation and getting out of the office part of your schedule. Consider getting out of the office…take a walk or set a lunch schedule. I have a friend who goes to lunch at noon, without fail. I can set my watch to it. I know he will be unreachable from noon to 12:30pm every workday. So do his customers. It is just accepted on the part of his clients that he will be unavailable during this time. One of the tricks I’ve used is to set an alarm on my watch every 60 minutes to stand up and take a short walk…just 1 minute..then back to work. It has worked wonders for me and made me realize how much I stare at a computer screen all day.

Your ultimate survival may well rest upon working smarter, not harder. Delegate where you can. This is hard for me to do. I am a bit of a control freak so letting other people do something I am absolutely convinced I can do best does not come natural for me. As I’ve gotten busier, I’ve had to learn to let go. Guess what? Things are getting done. Maybe not the way I would do it, but I’ve learned a hard lesson: my way is NOT the only way! Learning to empower your team is critical to your sanity. This allows brain wattage to be focused on areas that really do require your attention.

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The #1 Trick For Finding Time

There is a wonderful word in the English language. It is probably the most under-rated and under-used word among business owners. It is the word NO! Yes is not always the answer. If it means that you will have to bench critical projects, ideas or activities because you don’t have the bandwidth to do it, then you have to learn to say no. Or at the very least say, “not right now” or “I’ll get to it later.” These are very powerful statements that can help you concentrate on the things that need to be done in the order that they need to be accomplished. There are valid reasons for putting people off or outright telling them you just can’t do it. If you want some specific methods to do it nicely, follow this link.

Do not fear “the no.”  It may seem like a powerfully intimidating two letter word. But for such a tiny word, “no” is extremely liberating. When you decide, “this does not warrant my immediate attention, or this is counterproductive we’re not doing this” embrace your intuition. Take the time you need to run your business and don’t let YOU get in the way of YOUR success.

Categories: Productivity


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