It’s all too easy to let your job control you. But that’s also a surefire way to burn out. Here’s how you can regain control of your work – and your life.
I’m no stranger to late nights and a lack of sleep. I’m also no stranger to feeling like a helpless passenger on the ship that is my business, careening without control from project to meeting to client. And that’s no way to live.
Remember – this is your business. It serves you, not the other way around. Today, I’d like to talk about how I took my life back from the overwhelming workload that comes with being an entrepreneur – and how you can do the same.
It all starts with proper time management.
Start Each Day By Taking Inventory
Slot off a half hour at the beginning of every day and take stock of what tasks you need to finish. Is there a looming deadline for a particular project or a meeting with an important client? Is an employee or colleague waiting on you to finish a task before they can do their own job?
Assign a priority level to each task, and tackle them in order of most to least important.
Learn Your Body Clock
Some people are night owls, and do their best work once the sun goes down. Other people love putting their nose to the grindstone first thing in the morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. You need to figure out which you are – figure out when you’re most efficient, and leave your important work to those timeframes.
While I’m definitely an advocate of using a unified inbox like Hub+, I’m also an advocate of keeping your attention on one task at a time. Unless something pressing or urgent comes up, avoid the compulsion to multitask or switch from one project to another. Do one thing at a time – don’t check your email every few minutes, don’t constantly answer the phone, and don’t let yourself get sidetracked by banter.
Look At Your Calendar As A Flexible Entity
Now, there’s one exception to the previous rule. Sometimes, you’ll need to re-prioritize. A workplace emergency will come up, or a project will fall onto your plate that’s more urgent than whatever you happen to be working on at the time. In that case, you should learn to be flexible – look at your calendar not as something that’s set in stone, but as a guideline to keep you on-track with what you need to be doing. And again, think about using some sort of organizational tool.
Learn To Say “No.”
My last piece of advice probably flies right in the face of everything you’ve ever learned as an entrepreneur. You need to learn to tell people ‘no.’ To understand when you don’t have enough bandwidth for a particular task, or when you don’t have the energy for a project.
Every time you evaluate a new task or meeting, consider what else you could do with the time you might spend – if there’s something else you could be doing that’s more important or critical, it’s alright to refuse.
As an entrepreneur, your schedule shouldn’t rule you – you should control your schedule. Letting yourself be dragged along by your business like a runaway freight train is a surefire path towards burnout. And trust me, that’s a road you don’t want to go down.