Smartly Working

Increase your results and decrease the time it takes to achieve them. Here are five steps to working smarter.

By Romanus Wolter

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Traditionally, businesses require increased production tomaintain their competitive edge. If someone arrives at the officeearly and leaves late, that person is labeled a "hardworker." We've been taught that to attain economic freedomand professional success, we must spend many hours with our nosesto the grindstone.

For most entrepreneurs, starting a business leads to greaterfinancial and personal freedom. As our businesses grow, we learn asimple rule: It's not about the number of hours we spend on agoal, but the ultimate outcome of our efforts. Taking the rightactions is much more powerful than just working.

In order to achieve success, we must discover how to balance thetime spent on our work with our personal lives. Our families,friends and colleagues support our success by providing exceptionalstrategies and fantastic resources that propel our goals forward.Follow these practical steps to embrace life as an entrepreneur andexperience real results with less effort:

1. Remember that time is not an adequate measure of hardwork. Hard work does not have to be associated with pain orlong hours--it's simply the action of applying effort toproduce favorable outcomes. No one else can define the number ofhours you must spend working; it is an individual choice. The truemeasure of your hard work is the personal awareness that you haveworked to the best of your ability to complete a goal. You canthrive as a business owner by continually taking thoughtful,action-oriented steps and inventing new ways to stay ahead of thecompetition.

2. Periodically review your work habits to eliminatenonproductive tasks. Perfection does not equate to beingproductive. Free up your time for completing vital duties byeliminating tasks that add unnecessary burden without adequatereward. Learn what you don't need to spend time on by trustingand acting on your instincts. If you are always taking the time toneaten your desk or you are continually refining your filingsystem, consider eliminating one of the tasks for a week, andanalyze the outcome. You may find that you're still able toachieve your goals, but with less stress.

3. Give guilt a rest, and delegate. At times, being yourown boss means that you spend less time doing what you love becauseyou become bogged down with the day-to-day duties of your business.Identify two time-consuming administrative tasks, such asaccounting, customer service or collections, and delegate them toan employee or outside vendor. As the leader of your business, yoursuccess depends on your ability to spend time developing andfostering your dream.

4. Continually follow through on your commitments. Timespent worrying about anything is time squandered. Complete eachtask before moving on to something new. If a particular undertakingis frustrating you, write down the next steps you need to take, andinclude a specific time frame. This allows you to quickly reviveyour momentum when you return to the task.

5. Work passionately. All aspects of your life demandhard work--both on the job and at home--but constantly burning themidnight oil is often ineffective. By ensuring that each of youractions moves you forward, you'll find that your hard work willbe more productive and less stressful.

Speaker and consultant Romanus Wolter, aka "The KickStart Guy," is author of Kick Start Your DreamBusiness.

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