6 Steps to Managing Your Overwhelming Workload

Entrepreneurs' workload can often be massive, causing people to become stressed out. To get everything done (and not go crazy), here are a few guidelines to manage business tasks.

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By Doug and Polly White

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Let's be clear, being a successful entrepreneur is hard work -- very hard work. From learning new tasks to managing employees and planning for future growth, there isn't a lot of time in the day to make huge errors. That said, entrepreneurs can learn to work smarter, not harder.

Here are six tips that will help the overburdened entrepreneur sort through the endless tasks on her plate.

1. Get your priorities straight. There will always be more work than you have time to complete. You aren't going to get everything done. Accept it.

Tasks that are both urgent and important must rise to the top of the to-do list. Keep in mind, pressing work tends to take priority over the important tasks. Don't let this happen. Make sure you focus on both items.

Related: Don't Wait for Motivation. Do This Instead.

2. Limit your time on tasks. The law of diminishing returns dictates that doing a certain task for an hour may be a good investment but spending five hours doing the same task may be time wasted. Make sure you do some tasks in limited quantities.

We have a colleague who each day spends only one hour on social networking to promote his business. The reason? Often social networking can be a time sink, and he wants to make sure he doesn't get sucked in.

3. Avoid perfectionism.We're not suggesting that mediocrity is acceptable. However, continuing to work on something long after the incremental effort stopped delivering value is not beneficial. Further, it sucks up your time, keeping you from doing other tasks that do create value. Keep in mind, great work is what we do for our customers. Perfectionism is what we do for ourselves.

Related: The Secret to Prioritizing Your Time

4. Exercise discipline. As an entrepreneur, you can't afford to spend time doing things you enjoy at the expense of mission-critical tasks. Make sure you remain focused on business-related duties.

5. Outsource, outsource, outsource. Depending on your skill set, many tasks should be outsourced. For example, we find that if our computer network is on the fritz, it's much more cost effective to call a technician than to attempt the fix ourselves. He does in 30 minutes what would take us three days (optimistically), time we could be spent generating revenue.

6. Sprint. If you will be the only employee for years, this won't work. You'll need to use the tips above to find a sustainable pace. However, you may be able to sprint for a short period of time (say a few months) working at an unsustainable pace to get your business over the hump. This can be successful, if it allows your business to generate enough revenue so that you can take on employees. Then you can delegate work to others and throttle back to a sustainable pace.

Starting and successfully running a small business is a lot of work but following the tips outlined above can help you manage the workload.

Related: The 80/20 Rule and Listening to Your Inner Procrastinator

Doug and Polly White

Entrepreneurs, Small Business Experts, Consultants, Speakers

Doug and Polly White are small business experts, speakers and consultants who work with entrepreneurs through Whitestone Partners. They are also co-authors of the book Let Go to GROW, which focuses on growing your business.

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