Short on time? How to work SMARTER, not HARDER
You don’t just work your business to work… You actually want to make things happen!
Am I right?!
The point of work isn’t to be busy or to fill your time with something to do – there are plenty of other activities we could spend our time on. The point of work is to accomplish something of purpose!
I’m guessing you own your own business because you want either flexibility, control over your schedule, to be your own boss, or to spend more quality time with your family. Why did you start in business? What are you trying to accomplish in your work?
So, I ask you:
- Is your business giving you more control and flexibility, or is it taking those two things away from you?
- Is your business giving you the lifestyle you’ve always wanted, or is it consuming your life altogether?
There have been times in my own business where I’ve been frustrated trying to figure out what I needed to do to move the needle forward. These were the things I felt like I had to do? I had a to-do list a mile long, and I never seemed to be able to get to the end. All the tasks I thought I had to do were taking entirely too long.
The good news? I’ve learned a few things over the years on how to stay focused and on track with the most important tasks in my business and get the most out of the time I’m working. I want YOU to get the most out of EVERY hour you’re working too so you can grow your business and reach your goals as quickly and easily as possible with as little time as possible.
Today I’m sharing four key steps to help you Work Less and Earn More!
Step 1 – Find clarity
The first thing you need to know is exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. This is more of a long-term thinking process, and you need to determine what results you are aiming for. Answer these three questions for yourself to gain clarity in the direction you are going:
- Why am I working?
- What is it that I truly want?
- What am I trying to achieve?
My biggest goal is to provide enough income for my family to give us the lifestyle we want. That is what I want the most, and that is why I chose to start my own business.
Even when you know what you want (and you may even think you know what to do to grow your business), many times you can get caught up in the process and focus too much on the small, admin-type tasks and not on the big, overarching picture of what you want to achieve and how you can get there.
I see this ALL. THE. TIME.
Entrepreneurs getting ready to get ready to get ready. They are working hours in their business making it look official and legal, but they aren’t actually doing the things to make money. OR, they focus too much on one project and lose focus on the overall goal.
I know firsthand that it’s easy to get caught up in busy work rather than focus on the important business-growing tasks. For me, this happens when I get caught up in a specific marketing campaign or in creating a specific product. I can get sidetracked on that one particular project and lose my focus on the main purpose for my work, which is providing an income and lifestyle for my family.
An important first step is to get clear on your focus. I filter my focus through the lens of what I want the most, and that's where I find clarity.
Once you have the larger focus, then it’s time to break it down into the projects you’re working on right now. This would be considered your short-term clarity. The projects, however, won’t help you get to your goals if you don’t know what your goals are. Secondary to knowing the larger goal is creating projects to support that vision.
Don’t get caught up in the busy work!
Step 2 – Create your strategy
Clarity is a vital first step because, once you know what you want, you can then create a plan of strategy to reach your goal. This is the part where you need to determine what it is you have to do in order to get where you want to go.
Breaking up that larger goal into projects and smaller tasks (stepping-stone goals if you will) is a great way to build out a strategy or plan for your business. You can be super clear on what you want, but without strategy backing it up, you’ll just be wasting your time on things that won’t move you forward.
Step 3 – Determine your prime mover
Once you’ve created that strategy and have a good foundation for what you can AND should do in order to reach your larger goal, you then want to get clarity on the PRIME MOVER in your business. A prime mover is the one thing that, more than anything else, will move you forward toward your larger goal.
For me (going back to my biggest goal of spending time with my family) my prime mover is to stop working after putting in 20 hours each week. This is a hard stop for me. In order to have that quality time I desire with my family, I need to create that work/life balance.
One of the other goals I have in my business is to increase our profits and make more money every single month. In order to hit this goal, I need to focus heavily on my marketing strategies. The more effectively I market my products, the more money our business will make, and, in turn, this will drive us to increase our monthly profits and hit that goal.
Within my focus of marketing, there are also specific tasks I need to complete. Once you know your prime movers, you can develop the plan to break your projects down into the more specific tasks you need to complete to accomplish your goal.
How to determine the most important aspects to focus on:
- Look at the plan you created, and circle anything that is a prime mover. You should really only have one prime mover for any one goal you're working on.
- Cross out anything less important that usually eats your time and takes you away from your prime mover.
These two steps are arguably the most important parts of the process because, for every minute you spend on a task, that’s a minute you take away from another project that could have a larger impact on your business. In order to spend less time on work, you’re going to have to cut some things out, and I recommend those things be the ones eating up your time that aren’t driving the results.
Step 4 – Flow
When you get into the zone (or flow), you are engrossed in your work, you have an energized focus, you’re fully invested and involved, and you’re enjoying the entire process. In a flow state you’re not distractible and you’re highly productive. This is a place where you can get more done and work longer. If you want to get more done in less time, you need to understand how to get into a flow state.
Moving into a flow state can happen anytime throughout the day. It can happen when you’re doing housework, reading a good book, or even taking a walk. When you get lost in your own thoughts, you are essentially in a flow state. It happens when you completely immerse yourself into what you’re doing at that specific moment, focusing on the flow of the work and not on the amount of time it's taking.
How you enter the flow state and how long it lasts will be individual to you, but I encourage you to figure this out. What do you need to do in order to get into a state of flow?
How to enter a flow state:
- Have clarity or a purpose in what you’re doing. Know what you want to accomplish in that timeframe and have a plan for your work time.
- Make sure what you’re doing is a bit challenging, as most people find work interesting when there is an element of challenge. It’s harder to get into a flow with more menial, easy tasks.
- Eliminate distractions. Once you’re in flow, it’s harder to become distractible, but it’s not fun when you are moving into the state of flow and something distracts you because, once you leave that mental state, it’s harder to get it back. What are some distractions you need to get rid of? Maybe you need to silence your phone or put it in a different room. Maybe you need to close out any social media or email on your desktop. Or, maybe you need to hone in on one important focus in that given moment.
- Know when you do your best work and work on your schedule. This will vary based on the individual. Are you a morning person? Are you a night owl? How long are your flow state sessions when they are the most productive? Are they a short 10-30 minutes at a time? Are they longer than that? Do you like using a method like the Pomodoro technique where you work 25 minutes, take a break for 5 minutes, and then continue that cycle throughout your work day? Or is a technique like that a bit disruptive for you, and you prefer to get in the flow and stay there for long periods of time?
- Create a working schedule. Once you know the times that you work the best in and how you work the best, then schedule your work time. Allow yourself plenty of time for each of your sessions so you can get the most out of them. When I first had kids, I thought I could work on the couch while they were playing on the floor, but it was too distracting for me. I realized what was taking me ALL day to finish could have been done in a few undistracted hours. Trying to work like that was inefficient and exhausting. Through that process, I learned I don’t work well in short bouts, so I needed to schedule my work time when I could put a few hours in at once. This dedicated 4-5 hours a day in my own work space meant I got to spend the rest of my day with my family undistracted and fully present.
Once you create the flow system that works for you, and you figure out how to get into your zone, then you can rinse and repeat these steps! They may not always be in order every time, but the most important thing you need to do is go back to finding clarity each time. What is the purpose of the work you’re doing today, and how will it bring you closer to your ultimate goal?
To sum it up, first you need to find clarity. Then you need to create a strategic plan for getting your work done and determine your prime mover. After that it’s time to figure out how to get into your flow state. These four steps will help you to reach your goal in less time. Work less, and earn more!