How to work smarter not harder

| October 21, 2015

How to work smarter not harder

Even the most talented and committed business owners only have a limited number of hours in the day to devote to their business. The key is not to work longer or harder, but to ensure our time at work is productive, profitable and, dare I say it, even enjoyable!

Play to your strengths

To maximize your effectiveness, you need to understand your personal strengths and weaknesses. Where can you add the most value to the business? If you are great with people, don’t hide away at the office. Get out in the community, network, and watch the sales roll in. If your business is built around your particular talents and skills, focus on those and delegate the work that can easily be done by others.

Many business owners think they have to do it all; a belief sure to lead to frustration and burnout in the long-run. Granted, if you are a sole operator or run a home based business, you don’t have the support available to larger organisations. But outsourcing fiddly time-consuming jobs frees you up to concentrate on what you do best and probably this is what you enjoy the most as well. Hiring a virtual assistant can be a cost effective way to delegate work and free up your time.

Of course, sometimes we all have to tackle jobs we dislike. If you are avoiding sometimes  because of a nagging lack of confidence, get some vocational or managerial training. This doesn’t need to be expensive; look at what’s on offer at local community colleges and TAFE.

If you’re procrastinating just because it’s a job you dislike, break it down into manageable steps and commit to spending a set amount of time every day working through the steps, until the job is completed. Make this the first job of the morning so it doesn’t hang over you, and you just may find that once you start, you give it even more time than was allocated.

The Pareto principle

There may be tasks or even processes within the business that are simply not worth doing. The Pareto Principle states that 80 percent of your efforts achieve 20 percent of the results, while 20 percent of your efforts achieve 80 percent of the results. Identify the 20 percent of your products that bring in 80 percent of your income and the 20 percent of your marketing efforts that bring in 80 percent of your customers. Then look at the other 80 per cent of your activity and analyze whether some of it should be discarded. Spending a few minutes each day identifying the magic 20 percent can have an enormous impact on productivity.


Create your ideal daily schedule

One of the great things about being the boss is you aren’t locked into someone else’s nine-to-five schedule. If you’re a night owl, write that important proposal when the house is quiet and the phone isn’t constantly ringing. If you work well in the mornings, set the alarm and get a clear run at that report that requires a high level of concentration.

Break up your work day

If you are working in a large office, there are constant interruptions and distractions. If we work by ourselves, it is easy to spend many hours doing the same thing. This may look like a smart way to work, but ultimately leads to us becoming stale and less productive.

It’s important to schedule time for breaks, even if it’s a walk to the post office or a phone call to a colleague or potential client. Networking events are not only enjoyable; they prevent social isolation, and increase creativity and energy levels. They can also provide valuable business education and generate new business in a relaxed environment.

So remember, there is no rule that says owning a business has to be all work and no play. Work smarter and enjoy it more!