Conventional wisdom indicates that the harder you work at your small business, the more successful you will become. But sometimes, putting in extra effort leaves you burnt out and frustrated -- without gaining anything financially for your hard work.
In 2022, a little over 72% of business owners were experiencing burnout from the pandemics’ effects and impacts on their business. Additionally, 42% of those business owners experienced issues finding an employee with the skills needed for an open position, leaving those business owners in a stressful and distracted state.
By working smarter – not harder – you can alleviate burnout, increase efficiency and successfully grow your business. Follow these tips below to begin working smarter – not harder.
Working smarter, not harder, is a principle that emphasizes efficiency and effectiveness in accomplishing tasks. Many successful people attribute their efficiency and success to working smarter, not harder. Bill Gates and a host of other entrepreneurs recognize the efficiency in the concept. This approach focuses on optimizing productivity, minimizing wasted effort and achieving better results. Working smarter involves prioritizing tasks based on their importance and aligning efforts with strategic goals. This involves selecting the most crucial or time-sensitive tasks to take on first, then focusing on lower-priority tasks afterward.
Working smarter, not harder, can have incredible benefits such as:
Embracing a mindset of working smarter is essential for achieving long-term success and well-being in your small business.
Prioritizing tasks is a fundamental aspect of working smarter, not harder. By identifying and focusing on the most important and time-sensitive tasks, individuals can allocate their time and energy effectively. Prioritization helps prevent the tendency to get caught up in less significant or trivial tasks that can consume valuable resources and time.
For example, let's say you have two tasks that need your attention: one is your business taxes that are due in a few days, while the other is researching a new piece of equipment for your business that you plan on purchasing three months from now.
Since your business taxes are not only crucial but also time-sensitive, you would prioritize completing this task first. Since you have three months to research a new piece of equipment but only a few days to do your taxes, the new piece of equipment becomes a lower priority.
Prioritizing tasks allows you to make informed decisions about where to invest your or your teams' efforts, ensuring that high-priority tasks are completed promptly. Prioritizing tasks enables us to stay organized, maintain productivity and achieve better outcomes in a more efficient manner.
By implementing effective organizational systems and processes, you can streamline workflows, optimize efficiency and boost productivity. This includes establishing clear protocols for task delegation, creating standardized procedures, and utilizing digital tools for efficient data management.
With a well-organized approach, you can easily locate crucial information, respond promptly to customer inquiries, and meet deadlines consistently. Getting organized also enables you to allocate resources effectively, identify areas for improvement, and adapt to ever-changing conditions. Ultimately, being organized can assist you in achieving greater productivity, enhancing profitability, and fostering a competitive edge in your business.
Delegating tasks and to-do's plays a critical role in the success of small businesses. By effectively assigning responsibilities to team members or outsourcing tasks, business owners can leverage the skills and expertise of others while freeing up their own time for more strategic and growth-oriented activities.
Delegating tasks enhances productivity by ensuring workloads are efficiently distributed. It also allows other team members to demonstrate their areas of expertise, resulting in higher-quality outcomes. Effective delegation improves time management, enabling business owners to prioritize important tasks and make the most of their limited resources.
Multi-tasking can seem efficient for those with busy schedules, but it typically results in disorganization. Disorganization can result in you not being able to remember what tasks are completed, what is started but not finished and what is still left to do entirely. This often results in several half-completed tasks, making your workload feel even heavier than it already is.
Multi-tasking diminishes focus and attention, resulting in decreased productivity and lower-quality work. By attempting to handle multiple tasks simultaneously, small business owners risk making mistakes and overlooking critical details.
Multi-tasking also increases stress levels and hampers decision-making capabilities. It can leave you feeling overwhelmed, diminishing the ability to prioritize effectively. Dedicating full attention to one task at a time allows you to work more efficiently, complete tasks promptly and maintain a higher level of accuracy.
Organizing your finances allows you to maintain financial stability, keep an eye on profitability and vendor transactions and make informed decisions regarding your business.
Organizing your finances can result in several positive outcomes, such as:
Consider organizing all your financial needs, such as payroll processing, merchant services and remote deposit capture in one place. You can accurately keep track of all financial happenings within your business. The organization will ensure you can quickly find crucial information, keep more accurate tax records and set yourself up for financial success.
By minimizing distractions from emails, social media updates and non-essential notifications, you can maintain proper focus on productivity and business needs. Silencing low-priority notifications allows for uninterrupted work on critical tasks, enabling better concentration and efficient completion.
By selectively managing notifications and setting specific times to check messages, you can regain control over your time, reduce stress and ensure that your attention is directed towards important business priorities.
Stepping outside provides a refreshing change of scenery and an opportunity to recharge both physically and mentally. Spending time in nature can reduce stress, boost your mood and increase creativity. It allows for a break from the constant demands of work and offers a chance to gain perspective.
Whether it's a short walk, a moment of mindfulness in a park or engaging in physical activity, an outdoor break provides a valuable reset. You can return to your work with renewed energy, focus and a heightened sense of well-being, leading to improved productivity and overall success.
Entrepreneurs can ensure that tasks and responsibilities are allocated effectively by carefully planning and organizing their time. This includes setting realistic deadlines, prioritizing key activities and allowing for buffer time to address unexpected challenges.
A manageable schedule provides a clear roadmap for the day, allowing small business owners to focus on important tasks without feeling rushed or burdened. Over-planning your workdays can result in stress, missed promises or deadlines and overall dissatisfaction.
By creating a schedule that is achievable, realistic and productive, you can leave work each day feeling accomplished, on track, and satisfied.
In addition, to creating a manageable schedule, create a well-defined routine. This allows for better time management and efficient use of resources. Small business owners can be more productive and avoid burnout in 3 easy steps:
Additionally, a routine helps establish a healthy work-life balance by setting boundaries and ensuring time for personal activities and self-care. Consistency and predictability in daily routines provide a sense of stability, reduce decision fatigue and allow you to focus on strategic initiatives, growth and achieving long-term success.
As entrepreneurs, there is a natural inclination to take on every opportunity that comes your way. However, spreading yourself too thin can lead to burnout and compromised quality of work. By learning to say "no" to certain requests, projects or commitments that do not align with your goals or capabilities, you can prioritize your time, energy and resources effectively.
This allows you to focus on tasks that truly matter, maintain a healthy work-life balance and deliver great results. Saying "no" can empower small business owners to protect their well-being and maintain control over their workload.
Technology doesn’t have to be difficult to understand. With the correct tools, small business owners can efficiently handle everything from marketing, content generation, finances and other important tasks.
If you rely on social media to help promote your business, consider platforms like Hootsuite, which connects all your platforms in one place. It will help identify the best times to post content, inform you on what content engages your customers best, monitor what people are saying about your products and help ideate on trending topics.
When it comes to managing your finances, look to your bank or credit union’s mobile app. Many banking apps allow over-worked business owners to provide employee access to online banking and assign their level of access on the user or individual level. For example, you may want to provide your financial assistant the ability to transfer funds between accounts or set up Bill Pay.
When it comes to automation and technology, it’s important to identify the outcome you’re looking to achieve or the problem you’re trying to solve. Take time to explore the capabilities within the software and apps you already use, like mobile banking, to see if the solution can be found there.
If you’re unsure how to use a piece of technology effectively, reach out to your account rep for guidance. Understanding the tools that are sitting at your fingertips can save you frustration and the bottom line.
Working smarter, not harder has numerous benefits for small business owners. By prioritizing tasks, getting organized, delegating responsibilities and avoiding multitasking, entrepreneurs can alleviate burnout, increase efficiency and achieve better results.
Working smarter allows for increased productivity, reduced stress levels, enhanced creativity and innovation, improved work-life balance and personal growth and development. By embracing a mindset of working smarter, small business owners can achieve long-term success and maintain overall well-being and satisfaction in their professional and personal lives.
Implementing strategies like prioritizing tasks, creating routines, saying "no" when necessary, and relying on automation and technology can significantly contribute to working smarter – not harder.
By leveraging these techniques, entrepreneurs can optimize their time and resources, streamline workflows and make informed decisions that propel their businesses forward.
When it comes to working smarter, smart businesses look to their local community bank. With branches across Florida and innovative remote banking options, Seacoast helps you simplify your workday and streamline your operations. Explore our Business Solutions.