Reduce how many hours you clock each week by channeling your energy where it matters most. Here are some tactics which will make your workweek more productive.
Twelve entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) share the tactics they use to reduce the amount of time they put in each week from 60-plus to between 30 and 40 hours.
1. Prevent distractions.
Many hours each day are consumed by distractions that are not always pertinent to your daily objectives. The best solution for this problem is prevention. A good first step is to create a routine for each day and resist any temptation to deviate. Next, restrict answering emails to a defined blocks of time and do not take phone calls from people you don’t know. Maintaining your boundaries is critical.
2. Remove yourself from direct client interaction.
Direct interaction with clients at an early stage is crucial for seeing how they work with your product, service and company. However, that same interaction can take up a lot of your time. If your time isn’t spent selling, delegate client interaction responsibilities to someone else, and that will free up a lot of time.
If you really look at the tasks that you and your team are handling on a day-to-day basis, it’s likely that there are many areas that you could actually automate through great systems. For example, I use a small business tool called 17Hats that automatically sends out emails, questionnaires and invoices to clients based on their specific timelines. I used to waste hours doing this manually.
4. Stop obsessing.
Obsession can be a key factor in achieving perfection and a detractor when trying to achieve freedom. Rather than obsessing over the specifics of your tasks, delegate those tasks to others, and trust the individuals you’ve given them to. Oversee their work, and reward team members who execute in a similar fashion as you might have yourself — subtly training them to mimic your work.
5. Set strict work hours.
Set your working hours. For example, 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. Shut down your computer, your work phone and leave the office at 5 p.m. every day. Force yourself to do this. Mentally, when you know your work day is limited to a certain amount of hours, you’ll be more focused on finishing the tasks within that time frame and your productivity will skyrocket.
6. Only check emails during set times.
One easy way to drastically boost productivity, and thus reduce your weekly hours, is to only check email during set times. Most of us have a habit of living in our inbox, to the detriment of everything else we do. You can easily cut 10 or more hours off your week simply by setting aside specific blocks of time to respond to emails — and strictly adhering to them.
7. Focus on your best skills.
It’s easy to feel like you have to do it all and always be “on” when running your own business. Take the plunge and find or hire a key team member who you trust to take over the projects that are time-consuming or on the back burner. Only focus deeply on the things that you are good at that can drive your business forward. As for everything else, pass it on. You’ll be amazed at the hours you can cut down.
8. Hire someone to replace yourself.
If you are working 60+ hours, and you work smart enough, you should be able to hire someone to offload your work. I used to work on the weekends to grow my business, and once it reached a certain level, I hired a project manager to do the job and ease me out. Also, stay focused and get rid of less productive tasks. You are diligent; you just need to be a bit smarter about it.
9. Outsource the right way.
CEOs are ultimately responsible for everything in the company, but it doesn’t mean they have to take on every task. At a certain point, more hours won’t accomplish anything, and you won’t be performing at your best when you really need to. You should cut down your hours by focusing on essential tasks that require your skills and expertise, and leave the rest to experts.
10. Fire your most time-consuming clients.
If you have the luxury, fire your most time-consuming clients and focus on those that are most profitable from a return-on-time perspective. It’s your business. You can run it any way you want to, even if it means reducing your annual revenue and your working hours. If you can limit your customers to those that only fit your working hours, you may even be able to become more profitable.
11. Pay your dues.
Entrepreneurs usually begin their careers working 60+ hours a week while getting their businesses off the ground, but this isn’t a long-term strategy. The most successful sales agents in my industry learn that the hard work they put into their book of business is worth it in the long run; they begin earning a passive income. As with many things, dedication and sacrifice in the beginning pay off in the end.
12. Find the time when you are most productive.
Identify the time of day when you get the most done. Some people are more productive in the morning and others in the evening. I find that I’m the most productive in the morning, so I capitalize on this by eliminating all distractions and allowing myself to be as productive as possible.
Source: Young Entrepreneur Council, Inc., Magazine