Workload management – easier said than done, right? If you’re a small business owner, you probably juggle more tasks than you should and wish there were more hours in the day. While there’s always something you could be doing to improve your business, taking on too much yourself will leave you over-stressed and less productive as a result. Here are 5 ways to better manage your workload and reduce those stress levels.
1. Break It Down
Staring at a vast mountain of tasks that needs tackling can be overwhelming and cause you to spend more time worrying than doing. A simple tip to stay on top mentally is to break your workload down into more manageable chunks. Understand your different duties and rank them according to priority, tackling the high-priority ones first and delegating as many low-priority tasks as possible. Similarly, break down any large project into its component tasks, focusing on each task that needs to be accomplished in turn rather than getting overwhelmed by the project as a whole.
2. Get the Most from Your Team
One of the hardest things for many small business owners to do is recognise that they can’t do it all. If you’re interested in growing your business, you’ll need to hire new employees and learn how to delegate tasks and responsibilities effectively. You should never think this amounts to ceding control – two heads are usually better than one when it comes to problem-solving and you’ll need fresh perspectives to keep innovating. Pick a team with complementary skills to avoid overlap, maximise productivity and minimise your own stress levels. The most successful businesses have employees who are strong team players as well as gifted individuals.
While working in a team will improve productivity while keeping your own workload manageable, you don’t have to keep everything in-house. Many tasks – from copywriting, website design or social media management to business accounts, HR and payroll, reception and customer services – can be outsourced, either to freelance individuals or professional companies. If you’re worried about the costs involved, consider how much it costs you or your other employees – in time as well as money – to do those things, as well as the results achieved. It’s likely that by effectively reallocating resources, you’ll get better results and free yourself – and others – up to tackle more important and higher-value tasks.
4. Manage Your Inbox
While email communications are a necessary and important part of every business, allocating a fixed amount of time each morning to get through your overnight inbox will ensure you don’t waste time that should be spent on other, more pressing tasks. This is especially important if you receive personal emails to your business address – don’t allow yourself to become distracted as you’ll quickly get behind on work. Unless you’re expecting a communication that requires urgent action, limit your inbox checking to once an hour or so, rather than every time you hear a message alert. Breaking your concentration on a fixed task – even if it’s only momentarily – to check your email will lead to lower productivity and poorer work results.
5. Learn to Relax
Beyond managing your physical workload, you need to manage your mental attitude to it. Whether it’s yoga, meditation or mindfulness training, a gentle workout or a round of executive squash, find out what helps you relax and switch off from work for a time. Taking time off isn’t time wasted. Giving your mind and body a well-needed break – even if it’s only for 20 minutes each day – will make you more focused and more productive during your working hours so you’ll gain as a result. While some prefer to unwind with a drink or two after work, overdoing alcohol or other things that negatively affect your physical and mental health will make you less productive and more stressed over time.
As a small business owner, you need to push yourself to accomplish as much as you can without overdoing it and burning yourself out. By managing your workload realistically, you’ll reduce your stress levels so that you can achieve your long term goals for success.