Work (From Home) Smarter, Not Harder: 5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Save Time On The Job

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When most of us are now working from home remotely, entrepreneurs run the risk of burnout if they don't learn how to work smarter, not harder!

In the book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work And What To Do About It, Michael E. Gerber states,

"Every adolescent business reaches a point where it pushes beyond its owner's comfort zone — the boundary within which the owner feels secure in her ability to control her environment, and outside of which she begins to lose that control... As a business grows it invariably exceeds its owner's ability to control it."

It's at this stage, that the entrepreneur needs to decide if a company will survive adolescence or shrink back to what is possible as a sole proprietor.

In order to grow, entrepreneurs need to begin working smarter, not harder.

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Business owners often blame their inability to manage time on long days.

Whether unintentionally or not, many of us don't work as efficiently as possible, some or even most of the time.

Some entrepreneurs mistakenly believe that working long hours is the key to success when they should be working smarter, not longer.

The key to working smarter is to create a business whose results are systems-dependent, rather than person or expert-dependent.

Here are 5 ways entrepreneurs can work smarter, not harder — especially if you're working from home.

1. Create time for business ownership.

Entrepreneurs face daily distractions and time challenges. Modern technology drives distraction in everyone.

Many business owners don't realize how often distractions pull their focus from what matters most in their business.

They focus more on "fire fighting," causing them to miss opportunities that help them work smarter, not harder.

If you're bogged down by administrative tasks and are unable to market, build relationships, and sell, you need to find help.

Microbusinesses rely heavily on sales and business-owner results. But without sales, you have no business.

So, delegate passive marketing tasks, social media, and administrative duties that devalue yourself, your time, and your income. Instead, create time for business ownership, networking, speaking, and selling.

2. Get a handle on your control issues.

Many business owners have issues with control, and as a result, they suffer because of it.

Control issues can affect business processes, speed to market, results, sales, and relationships, as well as undermine your progress. It often results in procrastinating and putting off important work.

Other problems with control can affect unproductive multitasking, postponed outsourcing, inability to delegate, difficulty hiring effective and skilled help, and an overall feeling of over-responsibility.

Your control issues can all stand in the way of your ability to work smarter, not harder.

If you're micro-managing, you're wasting time. You need to step back and gain perspective.

Consider broad brush strokes, and look at the big picture. Bottom-lining will help you plan your best way forward.

Design better systems and processes, hire a virtual assistant, and use the technology and support around you to gain success. Shifting perspective can help you work smarter.

Business owners need to concentrate their efforts on high-value customers who can generate revenue and let go of tasks that are not directly contributing to the bottom line.

3. Prioritize high-value, revenue-generating tasks.

A recommended first step for business owners is to track their time daily to get a handle on what's actually happening for them.

It's important to know what's happening daily, because perception is often different from reality.

You might think you're looking at social media sites for a few minutes each day, when in truth it may equal up to 10 hours a week.

Once you track your time for a week, review your data, then determine where you're regularly involved in time-consuming tasks that do not contribute to your bottom line.

For example, accounting, scheduling, follow-ups, and newsletters are often more cost-efficient to outsource.

Delegating more responsibility to others could also enable you to contribute more value and work smarter.

4. Avoid tireless to-dos and endless task lists.

I'm a big fan of task lists to help manage your days, and I am averse to endless to-do lists.

Daily task lists that are too long can be intimidating and difficult to prioritize. Instead, use the "Top 3 Method" to prioritize your three key results daily.

Start off each day with a structured to-do list, but be sure to highlight the three biggest accomplishments you need to that day.

Focus on those first, otherwise, you risk putting yourself under more pressure, while possibly doing a second-rate job because you're rushed.

Another key tip to working smarter is to split tasks apart from projects. Projects are those things that may not need daily attention, but a broader perspective and plan.

Projects have their own timeline and usually lead to tasks, but should be tracked, measured, and monitored separately from tasks.

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5. Establish smarter work habits.

Working smarter means you need to successfully manage your time. Establish go-to and reliable routines, exercise self-discipline, and learn how to say "no" to non-essential, time-sapping requests.

Also, it's important to work with your own body and physical rhythms. Planning to do difficult or boring tasks when you lack energy is usually counterproductive.

Complete those arduous tasks during peak energy times (like earlier in the day) and leave the easier, more enjoyable tasks to end your day when your energy wanes.

Rather than doing tasks haphazardly, successful pros know that they need to establish consistent starting and quitting times — also called "office hours."

Other "work smarter, not harder" tips to build into your daily routines...

Establish regular office hours so you can avoid (or minimize) interruptions.

Turn off email notifications. Instead, check them two or three times daily, instead of constantly interrupting your workflow.

Batch your tasks so that you can do like tasks together and avoid the gaps between tasks.

Screen your calls — send them to voicemail and screen them once daily for follow-ups.

Stop unnecessary meetings by saying no before they are scheduled.

Chunk tasks into "actions" categories: Schedule, call, and follow-up.

Devote concentrated work time to those tasks daily.

Business owners who work smarter, not harder usually have a solid plan and a consistent daily routine.

Working smarter, and not harder, means making the most efficient use of your time and not extending your day until your focus and energy have diminished.

When you're fatigued, tasks take longer to complete, especially those we dislike. It's smart to come back the next day when you're refreshed and will get the job done quicker. You may even hire a coach to help you.

Working smarter, not harder can be accomplished in baby steps.

If even one change from the tips above enables you to save even 10 minutes daily, imagine what might happen if you incorporate all these ideas into your work smarter, not harder plan?

What "work smarter, not harder" tips help you make it through your days? What should be routine practices that keep you focused and productive? Which tips above would you like to try?

RELATED: Can Distractions Be Beneficial? Here's How Getting Distracted Can Help Your Productivity

Cena Block is a productivity consultant and certified organizer coach (COC) for professional women and entrepreneurs with ADHD. She is also the CEO of Sane Spaces and creator of the Time & Space Style Inventory.

This article was originally published at Cena Block, Sane Spaces.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.