Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or you’re just starting out in business, there are probably days where you feel like you just can’t handle everything on your to-do list.
There are so many tasks to be handled in the day-to-day of any business… client care, outreach, sales, social media and marketing… The list goes on and on! And on top of this, most people also have relationships and families to attend to.
You may find yourself wondering if the freedom you dreamed of when you became an entrepreneur is truly possible.
It’s true that as a business owner, you have to set clear boundaries in order to avoid your business running your life. But having freedom of time and attention also comes down to the way you approach your to-do list.
Ultimately, if you’re going to succeed and grow your company, you have to master the art of delegation and prioritization.
After 36+ years of working with entrepreneurs, I’ve developed a unique approach to taking some of the stress out of your to-do list – and freeing yourself up to spend more time doing the things that are in your zone of genius.
Before you begin this process, the first thing you have to do is get clear on which tasks you want to take off your plate. In order to figure this out, there’s a simple exercise we teach our clients.
Here’s how it works:
First, spend a week writing down all of the things you do that drain your energy…
Keep a little notebook or a note on your phone, and every time you find yourself doing a task that makes you feel bored, frustrated, or drained, write it down.
This exercise sounds simple. However, it is often incredibly eye opening.
Once you have your list, it’s time to review it and start clearing space.
When it comes to getting your “energy-draining” tasks off your plate, there are three approaches you can take:
Take a look at the items on your list and get creative about ways you can pass some of these tasks off to someone else. It may feel like you have to do everything yourself, but remember that learning to delegate is the key to business growth and spending more time in your zone of genius. Here’s a few ideas of what this might look like:
- Ask your kids or another family member for help
Look for simple tasks that are eating up your time and energy and see if you can get someone in your family to help. Maybe your teenage daughter would have fun designing a new flier for your business or managing your social media. Or perhaps your sister would want to come over once a week and help you meal prep while you catch up and spend time together.
- Hire a part-time assistant (even if you don’t think you can afford one!)
I know it can seem like an added expense you can’t afford, but often hiring out some of the simple tasks in your business will end up saving you money. When you get these things off your plate, it frees you up to focus on the most important income-generating tasks in your business.
- Trade your time with a friend or colleague
Do you hate writing but can run numbers in your sleep? If you have a friend who has the opposite talent, consider trading your time. It may not mean fewer items on your to-do list, but it will mean you’ll be doing fewer things that drain your energy. If you have kids, you could also consider trading off play dates with another parent to free up some extra time.
- Hire support with household tasks like cooking or cleaning
This is another one that might sound expensive at first, but often ends up being beyond worth the investment! If you feel like you can’t afford household help, try adding up what you’re spending on groceries and the time you spend cooking, and then calculate the cost difference in ordering meals or hiring someone to help with meal prep. What if you spent that time working on your business instead? Chances are you would be making more than enough to cover the cost, and helping your business grow!
It’s amazing how often we get caught up on tasks that we actually need to just let go of! Eliminating something from your to-do list doesn’t necessarily mean it will never get done. The things you can eliminate might be activities you’re doing that are draining your energy, or they might be projects or tasks you want to get to at some point, but that simply aren’t a priority right now. It can be hard to just let something go, but you’ll be amazed how much more productive you are when you get your to-do list down to the things that really matter.
Here are a few examples:
- Writing a book is one of your dreams, but you get frustrated every time you sit down to work on it because there are a million other things that need your time & attention. You let it go for now, and schedule a week-long writing retreat for yourself next year.
- You want to grow your social media following, but every day it falls to the bottom of your to-do list. Instead of letting it go completely, you theme your months and decide that this month will be focused on personal outreach, and next month you will put consistent time into growing your following.
- You’ve signed up for 6 different webinars and online mini-courses, but you keep putting them off. You take them off your list for now – and see if the desire comes up to go back to them later. If not, then you let them go and move on!
3. Change Your Approach
Depending what stage you’re at in your life and business, there may be some tasks that you have to do yourself for the time being – even if they drain your energy. If you can’t delegate it and you can’t eliminate it, you can always change your approach.
This means looking at the task from a new perspective and choosing to approach it in a way that works for you.
Here are a few examples:
- You hate managing money and paying your bills, but you’re not quite at the point to hire the financial advisor or CFO of your dreams. Instead of letting it be a daily stress, you add a weekly “money magic” session to your calendar. You put on some good music, start the session off with some money affirmations, and spend an hour checking the books and paying the bills. It might still not be your favorite task, but you’re taking away the daily stress and making it as positive as possible.
- Posting on social media is your least favorite task in your business. You find a friend who thrives in this aspect of their marketing, and schedule a time to get together and write your weekly posts together. You brainstorm for inspiration and find a way to make it fun.
- You get bored and easily distracted when you’re working at home. So you decide to spend two days per week going to your favorite coffee shop and working on your business from there. The change of environment is inspiring and helps you stay focused on what’s most important.
If you got into entrepreneurship for more freedom but you’re finding yourself constantly tired and overwhelmed by your to-do list, give this exercise a try – and let us know how it goes.