It’s a well-known and highly revered adage that if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life. It waxes poetic to be sure. And most passionate entrepreneurial leaders would agree, at least for the most part.
Because ultimately they also know it’s also not quite true.
Making a dream into reality on a daily basis isn’t easy. What might indeed be a labor of love is still a labor of sorts, requiring consistency, dedication and an insurmountable drive known all too well by small business owners. As the virtual workforce continues to evolve, it is becoming more and more challenging for most people to truly leave work at work.
Ironically, one of the best (and simultaneously hardest) things you can do for the long-term health of your business is just that. Leave work at work. Explore something new with your family on the weekend. Invest in your health by being active. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. Live your life.
We know what you’re thinking. “All of that takes time, and if only we had a couple more hours in the day,” you say. Just an extra hour to do one more thing, finish up that project or improve on something that isn’t quite perfect.
That is where time management comes into play. Because, as much as we may wish it not be the case, that stubborn sun will rise and set regardless of whether we’ve accomplished anything that day.
Instead of longing for the impossible, we focused our resources on finding ways to be proactive by embracing what we can control as small business owners. We can find ways to make the most out of each day. Here’s how:
- Plan ahead. Chances are you have taken time to put together a business plan to serve as a guide for the growth and development of your career as an entrepreneur. (If you haven’t, you should!) Why not do the same with your day? Outlining a vision, setting goals and putting together a game plan on a daily basis can help you stay focused and provide you with the structured motivation you need to get things done. Put everything on the calendar for the day, including breaks, family time and exercise. All of it will serve as a reminder of what needs to be accomplished, and can help refocus you after your laptop decides today is the day it will finally (and forcefully) install those updates (for example).
- Say no. In a video debunking several of the most common reasons people think they can’t say no, Forbes goes as far as to say that saying no is definitely as important as saying yes. It’s a concept foreign to most people personally as well as professionally, yet learning to say no as an entrepreneur can make or break your business. It doesn’t make you selfish. In fact, saying no from time to time can have an entirely altruistic result. If saying no can save you some time and/or helps you reduce stress and anxiety, you will be more productive at what you’re saying yes to.
- Assign tasks. Speaking of saying no, becoming familiar with the benefits of delegating is among the best things you can do to more effectively manage your time. This is a tough one for most entrepreneurs because for them this is more than a job. This is their life. Yet chances are the couple who started a business to provide resources to fellow small business owners, for example, are not necessarily experts at bookkeeping. Or scheduling. Or writing blog posts. These are several examples of things that could take that couple three times as long to do as someone they could hire from the rapidly evolving virtual assistant marketplace. Full- or part-time help is always another option. The point is, learning to pass along certain projects and tasks to others is an investment in a little extra time back into your day.
- Take breaks. It may sound counterproductive, but making time to take breaks is considered by some of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs as a necessary element to any time management strategy. Stress-related illnesses account for about 70 percent of healthcare provider visits, according to research done by Sharon Melnick, author of Success Under Stress. With numbers like that it is no wonder burnouts happen so frequently in the workplace. Combine that with the increasing number of employees who opt out of taking a vacation each year, and we are one overworked, under-rested country. The good news is it doesn’t take much to revive us – whether it’s a 10-minute walk around the block or even a staycation with the family for a few days, taking breaks is a proven method to help recharge our hard-working batteries.
Every small business owner knows it to be true that making a dream into reality on a daily basis isn’t easy. Doing what you love doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t need to work at it. By finding ways to more efficiently manage your time, at least there are things you can do on a daily basis to stay ahead of the curve.
“Either you run the day or the day runs you,” said successful entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn. “It’s easy to get faked out by being busy…the question is: busy doing what?”
“It’s easy to get faked out by being busy…the question is: busy doing what?”
Book to Read: Success Under Stress, find it here on Amazon.