For you and your small-business compadres, grueling hours are simply the price you pay to turn a profit. That's probably why the recent Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index shows the average small-business owner's workweek is 52 hours long and 57 percent take off only one day a week. Honestly, I'm surprised the numbers are so low. Maybe respondents didn't count the hours they worked at home? Or on the train? Or at their kid's Little League game?

You get what I'm saying: time is a precious commodity. We know we should be making the most of it--especially you, the time-strapped business owner--but what do we do instead? If you're anything like me, you waste too much of your day avoiding the unpleasant tasks that most small-business owners have on their to-do list.

Lucky for me, I've got people on my staff who know how to be efficient. Here are their suggestions for getting the ugly stuff done so you can focus on the big picture.

Get someone else to do it.

Like most people, you're probably gifted at some tasks, but other skills could use some work. No tragedy in that, but it may explain why you've already prepped your quarterly taxes but haven't finished the update to your marketing collateral.

Luckily, we live in a freelance economy. According to the State of Independence in America from MBO Partners, there are 30.2 million independent workers who generated $1.15 trillion in revenue in 2015. With numbers like that, you should easily be able to outsource the work you don't want to do, such as...

  • Running payroll.
  • Writing blog posts.
  • Cleaning the office.
  • Setting up your server.
  • Tweeting your tweets.
  • Organizing bulk mailings.
  • Entering data.

Chances are if there is a job you hate doing, there's someone you can pay to do it for you.

Get a program to do it.

As an insurance guy, I have to point out that bringing in more people usually adds to your risk. If that sends shivers down your spine, you might choose automating over outsourcing. There is a glut of startups designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses handle their drudgery without hiring new people or spending a fortune. As with freelancers, you can probably find a company offering software to:

  • Schedule and post your social media updates (example: Hootsuite).
  • Handle your HR needs (example: Zenefits).
  • Take care of your marketing (example: Marketo).

Though these automated services cost you some cash, they also free you up to do the work you're better suited to.

Get yourself to do it.

If the other two options aren't your style, you could always just embrace the challenge of doing it yourself. Well, mostly.

In the past, I've been wary of productivity apps, but these two are a step above an electronic to-do list:

  • Todoist. Todoist is an app that lets you track and improve your productivity. You can even sync it with other apps, like Google Calendar. But if you need external motivation, check out Todoist Karma. It grants points for completing tasks on time.
  • Write or Die. I used to think a blank computer screen was intimidating, but Write or Die makes a high-stakes game out of getting your writing work done. Pause too long, and the work you've completed starts disappearing. You can set it to Reward mode, but Consequence mode is so much more interesting.

Everyone has tasks they don't want to do. Rather than let them slow you down, find a way to plow through them with your sanity intact.

Published on: Jan 27, 2016
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