Nearly half of all U.S. employees have said that they experience work overload on a consistent basis. Business owners in particular feel overwhelmed by trying to manage day-to-day operations as well as focus on the big picture. If you find that you are exhausted from carrying more than your fair share of the workload, these tips and techniques can help you feel less frazzled – and become more efficient and productive.
1 – Put Your Goals in Writing
Goal setting is essential to long-term business success. It is also a valuable tool for establishing the focus you need to be organized and productive day in and day out. Experts recommend putting your goals in writing and sharing them with professional colleagues, clients, and/or staff.
According to one study, more than 70% of those who wrote down their goals and sent weekly updates to a colleague achieved their desired results. Only 35% of those who kept their goals to themselves were successful. Transparency helps you stay accountable and concentrate on what matters most, so you are less likely to get pulled off track.
2 – Track Your Time
While certain tasks naturally require more time than others, as a business owner, it is important to focus on balancing your time between everyday responsibilities and high priority projects. The smarter you are about tackling your to-do list, the more you can accomplish in a given period of time. However, poor allocation of time is pervasive in workplaces today and a contributing factor when it comes to feeling overwhelmed.
Time tracking and management tools can help you and your employees make the most of every hour. There are a multitude of options to choose from, including simple-to-use apps that track not only how you plan to invest your time, but where you actually spend it. Once you identify how you and your team are wasting time, you can delegate or eliminate less important projects or replace inefficient processes with those that are more effective.
3 – Give Yourself a Break
If we take into consideration the natural limits of the human attention span, our brains are only able to focus for 90 minutes at a time and require at least 20 minutes of rest in order to recover. Taking breaks throughout the work day can help to refresh your mind and reset your attention span.
For example, doing small, easy tasks like replying to emails or following up on phone calls can give your brain a rest from the hard work that takes up the bulk of your day. Take a lunch break away from your desk or go for a walk. If you’re too busy, trying working in 25-minute intervals of time, followed by a short break to grab a drink, check your email, or just simply relax. Even something as simple as switching to a different kind of task will give your mind a break and allow you to accomplish more.
4 – Delegate or Outsource
Despite knowing they cannot do everything themselves, many business owners have a hard time giving up control. However, continuing to take on too much inevitably leads to burnout, and, over time, exhausted business owners will find it difficult to stay on top of their game.
One way to carve out time to focus on broader issues like planning growth strategies and managing your team is to give your employees a chance to tackle the day-to-day or detail-oriented tasks. Be realistic about how much each team member can handle, and spread out duties as evenly as possible. Assign your best employees an amount of work that is challenging, but make sure it does not start to cause their performance to suffer.
For businesses that have a limited number of employees, delegation can be a significant challenge. If you are in this situation, consider outsourcing as a way of accessing the expertise you need on an affordable and scalable basis. From bookkeeping and payroll to marketing and finance, more entrepreneurs are recognizing the strategic advantages of tapping the considerable skills of independent contractors or the ease of online resources. In addition to relieving you of tasks that consume precious time, the financial benefits include not having to pay employer taxes, benefits, and overhead costs for a full-time team.
5 – Plan for the Future
Entrepreneurs who feel overloaded with duties tend to focus more on keeping their heads above water and less about the future of their business. Ironically, this approach can result in you and your team working harder for a longer period of time to achieve measurable growth.
Creating a business plan and updating it regularly will set your company up for success and ensure that you and your team have a long-range focus and common sense of purpose. Plan to meet with your accountant before tax time rolls around to discuss the financial side of your business. Key items to cover include reviewing revenue for the current year, discussing revenue goals for next year, and flagging any potential financial obstacles you may face in the year ahead.
If your business is well established, consider creating a five-year strategic plan. The idea is to make sure that, going forward, you keep your eyes on the finish line – and avoid investing time and resources in things that are not helping you achieve your professional goals.