Are you living to work or working to live?

Spring has sprung this weekend with days of glorious sunshine (unusually for a bank holiday) and if you’re like me, the warm lighter days give you a brighter feeling.

If you’ve missed the sunshine this weekend because you’ve had to work to keep on top of things, you might be (should be) considering what you can do to reduce your working hours and actually enjoy life.

Remember – we should be working to live, not living to work.

In his book ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ Tim Ferris talks about taking mini-retirements through-out life rather than building up the main event after you’ve slogged yourself to death for the best part of your life, but to do this you need to have your business working for you, not the other way round.

Here are 5 steps that will help you take control of your business:

1)      Define your goal

What is your dream? What do you want to do with your life?  If you don’t know what you’re aiming for you will never be able to plan to achieve it.  This might sound basic but so many people aren’t clear on what they really want and even if they do have a general idea they probably don’t have the detail of exactly what it looks like and the 3 or 4 key things they need to achieve to make it happen.

2)      Elimination

Now you know what you want to achieve you can start to stop doing the things that aren’t going to help you achieve it.  Our time is often spent doing things that other people have deemed to be important.  Take a step back and work out what needs to be done to achieve your goal.

3)      Processorise

Not everything can be eliminated completely but many can be automated or given to someone else to do, but in order to do that successfully you need to be clear what the processes and procedures are in your business – create your ‘How To’ guide for your business.

4)      Automate

When you know what the process is you can automate some of the tasks, ensuring they happen whether or not you are there to do them.

5)      Delegate

Once you have the processes defined and those tasks that can be automated have been, you can look to get help with the remaining tasks that shouldn’t be taking up your time.  Whether you have in-house staff that you’re not utilising effectively or you look to use outsourced suppliers, this step is key to making your business work for you, not you for it.

If you need help with any of this, or want to chat through a specific issue you’re struggling with in your office/business, take a look at www.theofficefixer.org.uk or give me a call on 01484 885485.

 

 

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Which way do your scales tilt?

Did you know that this week is National Work Life Balance week?  “What’s that?” I hear you say.

As small business owners it’s really hard to get this nut cracked!  When we start our business we think that we’ll be able to be much more flexible and work the hours that suit us but we soon find that we’re working more than before and juggling so many balls that ‘work life balance’ seems a long lost fantasy.

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There are 2 keys to cracking this I think:

1)      Stop letting other people control your time – if you don’t plan your time and stick to it then you are more likely to just react to other people’s requests and find that you’re doing what they want you to do rather than what you need to do, hence the long hours to get all the things completed that got pushed to one side.

2)     Learning that you are not the only one in the world who can do the things that need doing in your business – there will be things that you are good at and things that you enjoy, but they’re not necessarily the things you should be doing.  There will also be things that there will be better qualified people to do than you and things you hate doing.  You need to work out what you are best spending your time on and start delegating other jobs to other people, whether that’s employees or outsourced partners.

      Why not make sure you go home/stop working at a reasonable hour during this National Work Life Balance week and use this as a kick-start to taking control of your time? 

      A good book to read about how to reduce your working hours is The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.

 

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Are you efficiently doing the wrong things?

A very good friend of mine rang me last night to say that she was feeling frustrated and unmotivated.  Although she had written a To Do list in the morning and had ticked off a good number of the things on it, she still felt that she wasn’t moving forward and achieving anything.  I quoted Peter Drucker, “Efficiency is doing things right, Effectiveness is doing the right things” and suggested that whilst she had efficiently got through a good part of her list, if she was still feeling like she wasn’t moving forward, maybe the things on her list weren’t the things she should be doing and consequently she wasn’t be effective.

I’m a member of 4Networking and last Friday I did a new 4Sight at one of the meetings I attend regularly (for non-4Ners, a 4Sight is 10 minutes talking about something useful or interesting).  My 4Sight was based around The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss (a book worth reading if you want to reduce the number of hours you work) and one of his points is that we have to ‘eliminate’ work that we shouldn’t be doing.  I used this same quote from Peter Drucker and also shared a time-management tool from Dr Stephen Covey called the Important vs. Urgent Matrix. 

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One side of the matrix indicates the level of importance and the other indicates the urgency of the task.  If you split your To Do list into these 4 squares, you will probably find that little of what you are doing is in spare 2, which is the ideal place for you to “live”.  If that is the case you need to think about delegating the unimportant tasks and managing things better to avoid fire-fighting.  

I have found an article which explains this well, so rather than re-inventing the wheel I will point you to there if you’d like to investigate this tool further – click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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