In an increasingly "busy" world one of the goals many of us are striving for is to work a little bit (or a lot!) less.
So here's my top tips on how you can achieve shorter working hours, without having to sacrifice your income:
SET BOUNDARIES. This may sound like an over-simplification but Parkinsons Law states that a task will expand to fill the time available, which means that something as simple as setting a deadline on your working hours, will force you to become more productive and get the job done in time. We've all usually experienced this for ourselves at some point when we've been working on a tight deadline. If it HAS to get done by a certain point, you'll find a way to get it done.
So decide what time you're going to finish work today, and stick to it! (That last part is crucial for forcing yourself to increase productivity). Make plans with friends that mean you can't stay late at the office, or get on and book that holiday you've been after - there'll never be a "great" time to leave, but if you get on and get it booked, make the commitment, then you'll have to find a way to make it work, and you might surprise yourself with how achievable it was all along.
FOCUS. One of the problems with "busy" is that we're often doing too much of the wrong things. Take some time out to look at what you're currently doing - where you're spending your time and what's really responsible for producing the majority of your results. Pareto's principle states that 80% of your results will be coming from just 20% of your actions, so pay attention to what that 20% is and then drop the other 80% and double that 20% - you'll significantly increase your results whilst cutting your time by 60%.
Look at where you're currently spending your time on low-value tasks and then start to consider focusing more time instead on the high-level tasks, boosting your income and using the extra income to outsource the rest. This principle can be applied to many different areas of your business as well - where you're spending your time, your marketing efforts, your client base.....
PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS. We all have natural strengths and weaknesses and times when we naturally perform better (and times when we naturally perform worst). One of the benefits of being a business owner, is that you get to decide what your working day and structure looks like, so start playing to your strengths and tapping into those moments of naturally high productivity.
If for example you're a "night owl" by nature, you might fly through your high-level tasks in your office at 9pm at night, whereas if you're tackling them at 8am you may feel like you're wading through treacle and take twice as long to produce the same results. Whilst this won't always be possible 100% as you'll need to coordinate with clients, learning to incorporate some structures that naturally suit your strengths can massively increase the results you're producing whilst lowering the total number of hours you're working (and the amount of energy you're using).
FOCUS ON IMPROVING YOUR PERFORMANCE. This follows on nicely from the point above, and the reality is that if you want to work fewer hours you need to get yourself in a place where you can produce the same results in less time. One of the easiest ways to do that, is to make sure you're building habits that help you to perform at your peak, and paying attention to your physical health will have a significant direct impact on your mental performance at the office.
Seemingly small changes like making sure you're drinking enough water, taking regular breaks, getting regular exercise and giving yourself time away from the business to de-stress, relax and recharge will all have a significant impact on the results you produce when you're in the office, especially when compounded over time. So try building 1 high performance habit into your routine this week and see what difference it makes.
BUILD SYSTEMS & PROCESSES. For many business owners one of the easiest ways to shave a few extra hours off their working weeks is to invest a little bit of time upfront into creating the right systems and processes to make the business run smoothly and efficiently. This reduces time spent on repetitive tasks, makes it much easier to outsource tasks as the business grows, and will save you huge amounts of time in training( and potential mis-communications) when you start to take on staff.
The reality is often less-daunting than we think and creating a processes handbook needn't be time-consuming or complicated. Just taking 2-3minutes after each key task to document the steps you took to complete that task, can mean that over the space of just a few weeks you've got the basis of a handbook already written. Something as simple as creating a New Client Welcome pack, can literally save you hours each month in repetitive client enrolment conversations, and can also offer a way to provide added value to your clients, set you apart from your competition and offer an exceptional customer experience - it's a win-win!
So those are some of my top tips if you're looking to work a little bit less over the coming months but you're not looking to reduce your income.
Speak to you soon