At times it may seem like you have a never ending to-do list. No matter how many tasks you cross off, another one seems to appear. Sound familiar? You may be working hard, but don't confuse effort with results. If you find yourself in this situation, it's time to take a step back and make some changes.

Start with Yourself

Delivering great results should start with you. A saying I like to keep in mind: if it is meant to be, it is up to me. Have an honest conversation with yourself to identify areas of the business where you excel and where you may need help. This is especially important for business owners. You've worked so hard to get where you are and the success of your business relies on you, which can be a lot of pressure. Recognizing your pain points can help you develop a plan to address them. 

The good news is you have a support system available to you in the form of your employees. They are a part of your business and have made a choice to support you, and the success of your business affects them. Providing the right training and instruction to your employees can help relieve some of the burden on you. Motivating your employees can also help keep them engaged and get you to the results you want.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Once you've identified areas where you need help, it's time to divide and conquer. To do this, you need to make sure you're making the most of your valuable time. Ask yourself these key questions:

  • Are you being efficient with your time? I'm a fan of the two minute rule: If something on your to-do list takes less than two minutes, do it now. Getting these quick tasks out of the way can help motivate you to move into more difficult ones. But, don't get bogged down by a lot of little tasks that aren't essential.
  • Are you prioritizing things that are essential to your business? We often distract ourselves with tasks that aren't critical in nature. It can be tempting to just focus on the smaller tasks on your list and avoid bigger ones. However, those small items aren't going to drive customers in to your door. Take responsibility and ownership of the critical items on your list and look for support on the non-critical.
  • Are you delegating? You've hired and trained your employees to help run your business. They are perfectly capable of handling some of those non-critical items with guidance from you. High priority items are those that are critical to business results--finances, staffing, business plan--but lower priority items, such as day-to-day operations, are less critical and can be entrusted to your employees. If you aren't comfortable delegating, that may mean you need to implement updates to your training process or look for opportunities to outsource.  

These may seem like small changes, but they can really add up and, most important, free up your time to focus on building your business.