In our fast-paced, hectic world, there just aren’t enough hours in a day to accomplish everything that needs to get done. This is especially true for entrepreneurs who rarely keep regular office hours. As a result, our chaotic schedules can elevate our stress level and make it increasingly difficult for us to spend quality time with friends and family.
But there are ways to shorten a workweek with just a few tweaks to your schedule. Finishing your workweek a day or two early may sound impossible, but it doesn’t have to be.
Here are some strategies that can help you boost productivity and use your time more wisely.
1. Know your priorities.
Not all tasks are equal. You may have a long to-do list for each day of the week, but if you don’t differentiate between tasks that are vital for your business and those that can wait, you will feel like a hamster on a wheel -- constantly moving but never reaching your goals.
To properly manage your workload and prevent work overload, learn to delete or delegate. In other words, compile a “stop-doing” list that separates important tasks from those that do not contribute to the success of your business. Each hour you spend on mundane tasks ultimately takes you away from those activities you love to do.
Learn to prioritize. To be an effective leader, focus on what matters most to your business instead of what requires your immediate attention. ‘’Priorities are a choice between two real goods, both of which need to be done, but done in the right order,’’ said Peter DeMarco, founder of Priority Thinking.
If you don’t have an administrative assistant, think about hiring a virtual assistant or a freelancer to help you accomplish the tasks you don’t enjoy. This will free you up to focus on the big picture and do those things you do best.
Shortcuts, like various time management apps and tools are resources to becoming more effective and productive, and can save time, especially when it comes to repetitive tasks such as answering emails or managing schedules and checklists.
Make small changes to your daily work strategy and you will eventually save time in the long run. Try to reserve at least a half hour each day on routine tasks, like opening mail and working on social media, and spend the rest of your day working on more important projects. Fit that extra half hour into your daily schedule and you will significantly shorten your workweek.
If you own a smartphone or you have employees, you know that distractions are inevitable. You can easily lose focus and precious minutes if you aren’t careful. While checking email, squeezing in one more meeting, or reading blogs each day may seem insignificant to your overall productivity, the truth is those 10 to 15-minute distractions can add up quickly.
The most common distractions are emails, and 33 percent of entrepreneurs concur that email is the biggest time strain on their business, reports David Scarola, vice president of The Alternative Board. Once you read an email, file it, delete it or respond. Take planned breaks throughout the day to check email or perform non-work-related tasks.
"Often, people go into business for freedom," said Robert Levin, founder of the New York Enterprise Report. "The ironic thing is that you lose some of that freedom when you go into business for yourself, because you have to work so many more hours."
Working long hours is not mandatory. It’s a choice. Use these three steps to shorten your week and you’ll also improve your quality of life as well as your company’s success.