We are busy. And we're only getting busier. All the tech tools that were supposed to help us break free from the office have wound up keeping us online and working virtually 24/7. Rather than succumbing to that mad scramble, however, I recommend being more strategic about how you manage your work, to help increase focus and improve performance.

Most people just assume that being overly busy and scattered is the nature of business. While some small tweaks to your schedule and trying to stay more focused may not result in less to do, you will experience increased impact, less stress, and more joy from your work, rather than letting it burn you out.

With that in mind, here are five strategies that can help you take on your heavy load more productively:

1. Stop doing work that is not aligned with your talents

This seems obvious, but you would be surprised by how many entrepreneurs are doing work that doesn't excite them, and that they aren't good at anyway. That ends up being draining and they start to question why they started a business to begin with.

For example, managing operations when you're really best at sales. You need to be careful, especially in a growing business, that you are not taking on responsibilities misaligned with what you are good at. Either hire someone to do the work or give it to someone on your team that is better suited for it. Bringing in the right people, whom you trust to get the job done, helps alleviate feeling responsible for everything. If you are a solo entrepreneur, then take things like sales and operations and design your approach to them around your talent. 

2. Be discerning when you book meetings

Don't attend meetings where your perspective or participation is not completely essential. Watch out for the tendency to participate only because you have been asked. Make sure that you can contribute and that there is a clear objective to any meeting. Otherwise, cancel or decline.

3. Schedule time for thinking

Most people run from task to task without setting aside time for thinking. Either create a habit of setting aside time every day to think or schedule it during your day as a "meeting" with yourself.

4. Ask yourself why you are so busy

By examining, every week, what is causing such a busy schedule, you can create a strategy to address it. Taking some time to understand what's causing your personal bottleneck may add to the load in the short term, but figuring out what your capacity is--and learning not to take too much on--can save you time in the long run.

5. Stop multitasking

"People can't multitask very well, and when people say they can, they're deluding themselves," neuroscientist Earl Miller told NPR in an interview several years ago. "The brain is very good at deluding itself." Miller, a professor of neuroscience at MIT, says that for the most part, we simply can't focus on more than one thing at a time. So if you find you're multitasking, you may think that's the solution for getting more done--but that alone can be the reason for feeling busy and losing focus.

At the end of the day, there will always be endless amounts of work you can be doing. But if you follow the five strategies above, you may find that managing your bandwidth is a task well worth adding now--to save you the stress that being too busy ultimately has on your performance and well-being.

Published on: Aug 19, 2014