Do you feel like there aren't enough hours in the day? Are you working 70+ hours a week and feel like you are just treading water? You aren't alone. After working with thousands of business owners over the past 25 years, time and time again we see a lack of time as a huge concern for a large percentage of small to medium business owners.
According to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, 57 percent of small business owners in the United States work six days a week, and more than 20 percent of them work seven days a week.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review reported that, 483 executives, managers and professionals from the U.S. and 36 other countries work an average of 72 hours a week, and the 60% of this group who conduct business on their smart phones are connected to work 13.5 to 18.5 hours a day. Globally, chief executives tend to work an average of 12-15 hours a day.
So if we are working more hours than ever before, why then do most business owners feel like they don't have enough time to grow their business? That seems counterintuitive.
You aren't short on time....you are short on attention.
Sitting at your desk all day, doesn't create value for your company if you are focusing your attention on the wrong tasks.
Think for a moment of your week thus far.
How many hours to you spend per week on average doing the following activities?
Sitting in non-productive or wasteful meetings.
Dealing with low-level interruptions that could have easily been handled by someone else.
Doing low-value emails.
Handling low-value requests from co-workers.
Writing reports that have no impact on the bottom line and that no one bothers to read.
Streaming YouTube cat videos, checking social media, or indulging in other forms of escapism for a "mental health break".
Doing low-level business activities that the company could easily outsource at a much lesser cost than your time to the business.
Putting out fires that could have easily been prevented.
Doing office work you could pay someone $25/hour or less to do (filing, faxing, copying, typing, shipping, cleaning, etc.)
Doing personal errands you could pay someone $25/hour or less to do (laundry, cleaning, yard work, simple repair work, picking up dry cleaning.
We are all guilty of wasting time, but as a leader being able to eliminate these time sucks in lieu of more valuable tasks can really accelerate your growth and grow your business.
Change The Way You Work
Here are a few simple, but powerful ways that you can restructure your work week to provide more value.
Implement Focus Days
Set up a 3-4 hour chunk of time each week where you turn your email and cell phone off and focus on high level tasks that will help accelerate your growth. Encourage your key team members to do the same.
Hire A Personal Assistant
Hiring a personal assistant can be a great way to regain your time and allow yourself to focus on growing your business. They can act as a gatekeeper to keep you focused and help put out small fires before they reach your desk. You can also enlist your assistant to help with day-to-day personal errands and tasks that pull you away from the business.
Only Meet If Necessary
Having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting is a huge time suck and a waste of resources. Instead stick to meetings that create value and have a clear agenda in writing beforehand. Work to keep your meetings tight and on topic.
Skip The Cat Videos
When you feel the urge to have a "mental health break" this is generally a sign that you are engaging in other time wasting low value behavior. The more focus time you have on your schedule, the less likely you are to watch cat videos on YouTube or scroll mindlessly through Facebook. My favorite is to go for a quick walk or, embarrassing as it is to admit, to turn on a great song and dance in my office.