Entrepreneurs are known for working hard and relentlessly to see their vision become a reality and build a successful, sustainable business. Day or night, weekdays or weekends, working hard has become synonymous with success for most business owners -- especially those who are just starting out and don't have a trusted team to rely on.
But that is often not the case, as working 60-hour weeks or more can lead to burnout and stress, resulting in low productivity and lack of focus -- all of which can do your business more harm than good. So how can busy entrepreneurs reduce their work week to a more manageable 30-40 hours? These six entrepreneurs share a few practical steps below.
Focus on what matters.
To start, entrepreneurs should understand that there is a big difference between being busy and being productive, according to John Lie-Nielsen, CEO of One Park Financial. Instead of overworking themselves, business owners should work smart to obtain tangible results.
"I've found that focusing on what brings quantifiable value to my business is more effective than racing through a long to-do list at top speed," Lie-Nielsen advises. "Prioritize quality over quantity -- you'll never get it all done, but you can get the things that really matter done and done right within 40 hours."
Disconnect at night.
A highly efficient way to reduce the number of hours spent working, whether at home or at the office, is to simply disconnect from your devices and get rid of notifications during the night.
If you disconnect from your phone and email at 7 or 8 p.m., it will help you relax and be more focused on work the following day, Marquet Media, LLC founder Kristin Kimberly Marquet believes: "I find that most things that happen overnight rarely require my immediate attention or are not an urgent matter and can wait until morning. There's no reason to be wired 24/7 most days of the week."
Cut back on meetings.
Entrepreneurs tend to spend a lot of their time in endless meetings, which is both counterproductive and unnecessary most of the time. That's why cutting back on meetings whenever possible is a smart way to clear up valuable time for more important work, says Josh Payne, founder and CEO of StackCommerce.
Instead of having multiple weekly meetings, entrepreneurs could hold only one focused session with a key stakeholder from the team. "Not only will you get your time back, but you'll be able to step into more of an adviser role, which will keep you out of the weeds in the days to follow," Payne explains.
Automate recurring tasks.
"Automating recurring tasks is an effective way to save time," WPBeginner co-founder Syed Balkhi says, underlining that there are several ways automation can help manage and improve an entrepreneur's work
"Use chatbots to answer common user questions. Work with customer relationship management software for lead generation and sales. You can also set up your email to filter and prioritize emails in the order of importance," Balkhi recommends.
Plan a long trip far away.
A more unusual and seemingly counterproductive method to reduce workload is to get away from the business -- preferably in a different time zone. Planning a long trip where you will have limited work hours is a great way to force yourself to automate and delegate more, according to Madeleine Niebauer, founder and CEO of vChief.
"A year into my business, I spent six months in Asia. It meant I couldn't take as many calls, and I had to hire people to take over most of the work," Niebauer shares her experience. "It helped me have laser focus on the most important tasks."
Hire a virtual assistant.
And if you aren't ready to delegate the more difficult tasks because you don't have a reliable team yet, at least get help with the more menial tasks that can eat up a lot of time. To this end, entrepreneurs should consider hiring a virtual assistant, The Big 4 Accounting Firms CEO Bryce Welker advises.
"Having someone handle scheduling and other clerical work of that nature will significantly cut down on the amount of busywork you'd otherwise be forced to handle," Welker adds. "This will allow you to focus on the aspects of your business that really matter!"