Many business owners I meet have the same wish:
“ If only I had a few more hours each day to get things done!”
The reality is that there’s only ever going to be 24 hours in a day and frankly, if you are working for more than 50 hours per week, some part of your life is going to be suffering, whether it be your health, family, fitness or enjoyment
Putting up with working ridiculous hours for the first few years of your business is a must – nothing is built without some hard work to get it going. However, if after year 3 there is not an improvement and you’re working long hours because you have to in order to keep the show on the road, not because you want to, then something is going wrong.
The problem may be that, over the years since you started your business, you have confused Business with Busyness. Our brains are designed to release chemicals when we are in fight or flight mode that make us feel energised, so that we continue to do fight or flee until the danger is past. When we are building our business we are in fact running away from danger: the danger of not having enough money to support ourselves and our family. As a result, we do whatever we can to relieve that fear.
The challenge is that in business, that fear never really goes away. There is always an inherent risk when you own and run a business that tomorrow could be your last day. What if your team don’t turn up, your best customer leaves you, a vital piece of machinery breaks down? here is always something to worry about, and thus our brains tell us to keep on running. So as you can see, if we do not change this thought pattern, then we are destined to work ourselves into an early grave.
The key is to stop doing and start thinking. The title of this article is “How to get 12 hours of work into 5 hours per day.” I’m not suggesting that you try and cram the 12 hours of work that you are doing into 5 hours, using some magical time management tool, but instead that you remove from your day 7 hours of work you should not be doing. That’s all very well, you may say, but how do I know what to remove, and how do I actually do it?
Well, here’s how. According to Stephen Covey (Author of “7 Habits of Highly Successful People”) there are 4 types of work that business people do:
1. Not important and not urgent – this is a Distraction;
2. Not important but urgent – this gives the Delusion that we are making progress;
3. Important and urgent – this is a Demand on our time;
4. Important and not urgent – here you are in the Zone and working most effectively.
The first thing you need to identify is what is important in your business, and the only way to do this is to have clear goals and plans for what you want to achieve over the coming days, weeks, months and years. Without these, you are doomed to fail before you start, as you just don’t know what you need to be focusing your time and attention on.
Once you know what is important to your business success, you need to review everything you have on your list of tasks and decide whether it is helping you achieve your goals. If not, don’t do it!
Distractions should be ignored or delegated to somebody else. Delusional work is where other people’s priorities are higher than yours, so you have to get better at saying NO, and teach people to solve their own problems. There will always be demands on your time, but if there are patterns and the same issues repeating time after time, then you need to put in a system that enables the issues to be resolved before they become urgent, or allow others to deal with them.
Your 5 hours per day can then be spent just on the important but not urgent work, being in the Zone, and after all this is the most valuable work there is, and it’s why you set up the business in the first place. Here you can work ON your business and start your journey to greater success and fulfilment.