If you feel like you are working too hard, or working too many hours, this might give you some hope for a solution.
I’m not saying it would work for everyone, but it has certainly given me a new perspective on my own business.
Over the summer I achieved something I thought was unlikely at best, and potentially damaging at worst.
I went down from working 7 long days a week, to working only 3. At most. The best part? Even though I worked much fewer hours … My income stayed roughly the same.
- Without hiring a virtual assistant.
- While still handling my own email, telephone calls, social media, etc.
- Still with my advice-based business, NOT mythical “push-button passive-income” systems!
Could I have gone further? Maybe, but I didn’t want to comprise on delivering on my promises, obligations, and longer term business growth. Much as I would have loved the dream of a “four hour work week”, I know just with coaching alone I have much more on my plate than that would allow. I was pretty happy with how this experiment turned out!
How did I manage to earn the same income while doing much less work?
- Non-negotiable criteria – I HAD to earn the same level of income – My outgoings actually increased in that time and my reserve funds were depleted after moving country. There was no way to cut back, the budget was already as lean as it was going to get. And, besides, I like my lifestyle! There was no choice but to make it work.
- Motivation – I really wanted to work less hours – The whole plan was based on spending more time with my family over summer. My daughter got much more summer vacation time, and we were still settling in after our move so it was very important. So important that family time took priority over anything else.
- Waste – I knew I said “yes” too much out of fear of being the “bad guy”. I had done a lot of work with myself in that area so I went from “saying no more” to “No, by default”.
- Organisation – My clients were given open slots in which to book coaching time. Of course I had some flexibility, I am not an ogre, but 99% of the time they found time that worked. I outsourced a little (still working on my control freakishness), but mainly it was down to strict time management and not doing wasteful stuff and allowing myself to be distracted. A pleasant side effect is I could arrange my time so that my “social battery” didn’t run so low I couldn’t get anything else done (a hazard of being an introvert is talking to people can be draining and I have to recharge).
- 80-20% rule – My business was reduced down to the 20% of effort that brought 80% of the results. I had been working on my authority business processes for a while, essentially all I needed to do was be very strict and only work on the crucial parts. This “critical path” of my business was the real engine of what I do and while there was some friction and pressures around not dropping some balls, it worked out really well.
5 Steps to reduce your workload while growing your business
- What can you not change? Work out what you absolutely must not compromise on. You will want to keep up quality, ethics, customer service, and likely want to grow your income – what else?
- Why? Where is your motivation coming from? Don’t work less out of laziness because we are talking about a more focused effort not sipping chilled drinks on tropical islands while money shoots out of your computer Knowing why you are motivated will help keep clarity when you are pushed into hard decisions.
- Can you say NO more? What are you currently saying “yes” to that distracts you from your goals or adds clutter to your day?
- How can you organise your time so you can give customers the attention they need without taking too much of your schedule or energy? What can you safely outsource if you need to, while not compromising your relationships with contacts, customers, suppliers and colleagues? Can you batch similar work so you have less set up time? Take it in increments – I started by not working weekends, then stopped working past 6pm on weekdays, then started taking Monday off, etc.
- What is the 20% in your business? Where does the majority of your results come from? How does your business generate the best leads for least time and effort? How can you shorten the conversion process? How can you deliver the best customer experience in a focused way with less chance of random and scattered attention? I found I could cut the fat in many areas, I am sure you can too.
I am so glad I tried this, even though there was a danger. I did have the safety net of knowing I was not setting it as the rule long term, but actually I really haven’t reverted back to the old routine hardly at all.
The outcome was we had a lot of great times as a family and I learned some valuable approaches that I will of course be passing along to clients. In terms of future prospects for the business, I now have two “extra” days in my week now my daughter is back in school to use for long term efforts such as business development and product and service creation.
It certainly was not easy. There were some stressful moments, and I don’t like turning away opportunities. It’s not nice saying no to everything, but it turned out with my hectic travel and house-moving logistics, I couldn’t have taken on the added stuff anyway!
For you it could come down to what you believe you should be doing versus what you really should be doing. “That’s just the way it is done around here” might be doubling your work load but making you less effective!
Even a small reduction in wasteful effort could be a huge energy boost and motivator for you, and at the very least bring some much-needed clarity to where you place your emphasis.
Over to you – do you think you are working too much? Do you have any questions? Please share in the comments …