What entrepreneur doesn’t have too much to do?
It’s okay. You’re among friends here with your long hours and frazzled look.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let me cut right to it.
There’s one thing about the way I run my business that always surprises people:
Some days I hardly work. Other days I don’t work at all. Even on weekdays. (Gasp!)
Honestly, the shocked looks I get with that confession took awhile to get used to. Doesn’t everyone take days off?
I can’t work full-throttle all day every day. I don’t have the stamina. And this actually helps my business. More on that in a minute.
This not-working-too-much approach was also true when I was in my old corporate job. Sure, I’d pretend to have my foot glued to the gas, but I really didn’t. I’d take extended yoga lunch breaks, dip out for long strolls in the sunshine, and leave by 2 or 3 on Fridays.
Why? Because 40+ hour weeks just aren’t reasonable. There, I said it. Now, Tweet it!
I’m not sure who decided 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday was THE way to do things, but I actually get more done when I work less.
Let me explain.
How Working Less Helps Me Get More Done
Since I don’t have the stamina for a 40+ hour work week, I don’t even try to put in that many hours. If I work too much, I’ll quickly burn out. And if I were to burn out, it would negatively affect my clients (and I’m not okay with that!).
Because of my fierce commitment to serving my clients, I have to take care of myself so I can take care of them.
At the same time, I’m also a type A overachiever perfectionist, and I love my business! I want to work, I want to create, and I want to do incredible things. But in order to do all things well, I have to balance all things.
And when all things are balanced, I’m working fewer hours and getting more done. This means I’m serving my clients well and having time for the rest of my life… and that’s a beautiful thing!
So how do I make it work? I have a few rules I follow. They’re simple yet incredibly powerful. So if you’re ready to work less and get more done, you may want to take notes…
Rule #1 for Getting More Done While Working Less: Focus
Work time should be just that – you, switched on, totally focused on the task at hand. Not playing around on Facebook for 30 minutes, then half-heartedly working on that blog post for 10.
When you’re working on writing a blog post, just write the blog post. When you’re with a client, give them 100%. When you’re answering email, focus on email.
Switching from task to task decreases your productivity, so stay focused on one thing at a time if you want to get more done by working less.
Rule #2: Work Only When You Have Energy
Honor your energy levels. Your car won’t run without gas, and your business won’t move forward if you’re running on empty.
Working when you have the energy will skyrocket your productivity. You’ll get more done in less time, because you’re ready and present. When you’re rested, you’re also able to keep your focus and avoid shiny object distractions.
Honoring your mental and physical needs doesn’t mean waiting until you collapse on your laptop. It means listening for that first inkling of “you should take a break right now” and having the guts to step away until you’re ready to refocus.
On the flipside, honoring your energy doesn’t mean “skip your commitments, go take a nap whenever you need to.” If you have client calls, meetings, or deadlines, honor them. But you can avoid overdoing it by not over-scheduling yourself in the first place.
Rule #3: Honor How You Feel, Moment to Moment
Throughout the day, turn your attention to the way you feel. When are you energized, tired, bored, or focused? What tasks create resistance?
As you notice your energy and emotional patterns, adjust what, when, and how you work on different tasks.
Love connecting with others in the morning? Book your client sessions early in the day.
Get bursts of creative genius right after lunch? Decide to use that time to draft your blog posts or work on your new offering, instead of invoicing or catching up on email.
Tired at 3 pm? Plan on a 15 minute power nap or a green smoothie break every day at 3.
Listen. To. Yourself. The more often you check in about the way you’re feeling, the less likely you are to stay on the express train to burn out. It will also help you honor your energy and stay focused.
Mindful reflection will also help you figure out what you may want to outsource or stop doing completely. Which brings me to the next one…
Rule #4: Commit to Crossing Things Off Your List
There will always be too much to do. So you must decide what you’re NOT going to do.
Along with your work tasks and career goals, you probably have another list entitled “Stuff to do when I have time.” It might include organizing the garage, reading that business book all your friends rave about, or finally editing your about page.
Get real with yourself. Which of those are you actually going to do in the next month? Likely, if it’s been on your list for more than 6 months, it’s really not that important. Cross if off. If it’s important, put it on your calendar and commit to getting it done. Those lingering to-do’s are huge energy drains.
Deciding not to do things doesn’t just save your mental and emotional well-being and your energy, it also helps you keep a clear mind. An impossible-to-achieve to-do list clutters your brain and your creativity. If it’s not going to happen, cross if off the list. Stick with what matters, and skip the rest.
Rule #5: Cut Yourself Slack When You Fall into Old Habits
Even though I’ve become practiced at these techniques, I can slip into old patterns. When I do, I don’t berate myself for it. That would only make things worse! Instead, I notice the habit and change it. Right then.
I get back on track and remember that we’re all always learning. And that’s okay.
As you learn to work smarter, know that it’s okay if you slip up. When you notice it, refocus on how you want to work and get yourself back on track. No drama necessary.
Are you ready to work less and get more done?
Now I want to hear from you!
How much are you actually working? Is that more than you want to work?
What changes can you implement today to start working fewer hours and actually get more done?
And, most importantly, what are you going to do for fun this week in your newfound free time?
I can’t wait to hear what you’ve got in the comments below.