How Much Should You Work?

One of our team members recently had her first baby (congrats Janelle!).  And when shopping from baby registries, I find myself shopping elsewhere; I like to give meaning things that have a purpose.  So while searching for the perfect gift for this baby boy, another team member found the cutest book EVER!  Hustle Baby Hustle, An ABC Book of Entrepreneurs who have changed the world! I mean that's why we are all working so hard…right?  To make a difference?

With all that has been going on in the world today and locally; tornados, COVID-19 a global pandemic, then next are the riots, looting, destruction, and protests.  What's next?  I wasn't raised like this at all.  We were taught to treat everyone with the same respect as you never know what is going on with people.  Staying focused on what matters and where I can actually make a difference helps me stay positive. So I want to share some recent info that was shared with me about working too much.

When you love what you do; it's not really work; right?  But the older I get the more I rely on the facts.  The numbers.  And not what I just think!  I used to think that being a successful small business owner meant that I had to hustle 24 hours of the day, literally.  I would say, I will sleep when I die.  I have too many things I want to do.  But that was the actual problem.  I needed to learn how to focus and balance my time.  I used to wake up to hustle; barely sleeping; I don't dream often, but when I do, I dreamed about to-do lists and how to better organize spreadsheets.  I am not kidding!  That is, until the day I woke up and realized that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Building a profitable business requires you to work smarter, not harder. While hustling to keep your business thriving, the secret ingredient is having a strategy and focus.   The cult of overwork is real. The cult of loving Apple products is real.  The average person touches their phone over 2,000 times a day, and the U.S. is one of the most overworked countries  in the developed world.  Why?  Where does this come from?  The American dream is more like jail to me now.  

Americans are proud of being busy, but that pride comes at a price. Are you busy doing the right things?  I often look at my calendar and think to myself, “do I really want to do this today?” like am I excited?  If you are not excited, why are you saying yes? Have you heard that sitting at your desk for 13+ hours a day is like the new smoking habit?  Thank goodness for treadmill desks right!?

Let the science speak; our brains are not wired to multitask (however, I feel as though I get more done when I am!), and decision-making quality drops when we are not getting enough sleep.  We need 8 to 10 hours.  The older I get, the more I understand this saying. So, let’s get real. Do you notice that you’re exhausted or fresh out of ideas after a long day? 

Do you know how to get away? When we’re not working on our business, we’re thinking about it, and it’s become the norm for entrepreneurs and small business owners; you have to know how to turn it off.  Overworking hurts profits, productivity, and team morale. 

Here’s the reality: Nothing productive or profitable comes out of a workday that has constant interruptions. Trust me on this one. So maybe if you slept that extra hour, conduct your meetings over Zoom  and designed your days to work smarter, by calendar time blocking then you would experience real growth in your business.

Here are a few tips to design a work week that will keep you sane and hopefully profitable:

*Create a process and outsource it:
When you’re a small business owner, you’re suddenly wearing SO many hats.  But that doesn't mean that you should.  Focus on the things that you are good at and you actually enjoy.  Surround yourself with people that are way better than you. Like when it comes to accounting, to do list, and long term strategy, I would rather be doing anything else. My brain is not wired to do these things. Take a step back and document all the things you do on a daily basis, and see if there are ways you can automate or create templates to reduce the workflow.

*Learn how to use technology:
There are so many software tools that can make your life easier. Many of them are free for smaller businesses, or come with a minimal monthly cost. For example, I use tools that are built in to all of my Apple products.  We use Calendly for scheduling meetings, Trello for to do lists, InfusionSoft for a CRM, Hello Sign for online contract and many more. Tracking your time is key here.  By sharing Google Drive and dropbox we were able to decrease emails by over 300 a day several years ago.

*Ask for help:
I know what you are thinking; no one will ever do it the way I do it.  However, you can't do it alone.  Trust me.  You CAN find the right people and you must train them and communication with them to ensure your morals and values are being followed.  That starts with you as the leader.  Consider starting with a VA (virtual assistant), who can handle everything from your email inbox to administrative tasks, bookkeeping, social media, or graphic design. The key to success here is communication and training. As a small business owner, I’ve seen the value in investing other people to help me grow.  Invest in people.  It's the best thing I have ever done for my business and myself. 

*Remember to sleep & stop saying YES if you are not excited
You started your own business to create a life YOU wanted. Right?  Being a boss is not just about getting shit done, but it’s also about knowing when you need to stop, live in the moment and relax.  Time away from your business not only rejuvenates your well being, but also allows for new, creative ideas. I try my best to stick to my calendar, time block to spend time with family, my dogs, and to relax (maybe binge watch a Netflix series like Ozark) without the disruption of email and calls (which we schedule all calls BTW). I also take a work-free vacation — after two decades of working my ass off, I can tell you it’s possible when you have the right people around you. 

Everyone talks about the hustle. Everyone believes being busy is a good thing;  but if you are busy doing the wrong things, this doesn’t add zeros to your bank account. Working smarter not harder and strategically on your business not only will give you the time to build your company, but also will allow you to spend time with the people who matter most. Live in the moment.  Life is so short. And time flies when you are having fun!

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