5 Tips for Working Smarter, Not Harder

Most entrepreneurs are naturally workaholics. For firm owners, when faced with a laundry list of tasks, will work longer hours and push themselves to the brink of exhaustion to get everything done. However, this isn’t the best approach. Rather than working harder, you can work smarter and learn ways to work more effectively.

In order to work smarter and not harder, you need to manage your time better, know what
needs to be done when, and use resources that will keep you on track. To help you get started,
here are some tips.

Tip #1: Recognize Your ‘Enough Number’

Your Enough Number covers more than your basic monthly expenses. Among the things it can cover are doing things with friends, saving for a vacation or your child’s college fund, and contributing to a retirement account. It is based on your short and long-term goals and is unique to you.

Once you identify a yearly financial goal, divide it by the number of days that you’ll be doing client work. Once you have a minimum you want to bill each day, stop working once you reach that amount. (Note: You can work longer if you have a deadline or if you really need to finish a task that’s nearly complete.)

Tip #2: Eliminate Distractions

If you want to be more productive, put your phone somewhere you cannot see or hear it. By doing so, you won’t be distracted by calls, lights, or notifications. You should also remove email notifications from your phone and simply check messages when you open the app. Reviewing your emails a handful of times each day is much more conducive to productivity than checking them whenever the icon appears.

Tip #3: Pay Closer Attention to Accounts Receivable

You should be concerned more with collecting your accounts receivable than with your billed hours. After all, $20,000 worth of billings is meaningless if the client doesn’t pay.

If someone has an overdue invoice, only do what is absolutely necessary for them until they pay, and start charging interest after 30 days or talk to them about a payment plan to keep things going. Leave free work to your pro bono clients.

Tip #4: Use a Time Management System

A lot of firm owners have availability and productivity management systems in place. Certain types
of software can:

  • Display your availability and allow clients to schedule meetings at times that are convenient for them. This way, you can avoid those time-training meetings on Mondays and Friday afternoons.
  • Help you stay organized and maintain reasonable expectations for what you can accomplish.

You’ll feel more in control of your schedule and, by extension, get a lot more work done.

Tip #5: Don’t Feel Guilty About Taking Care of Yourself
Feel free to make yourself unavailable for meetings if you need time to focus. You may feel guilty about being unresponsive to your clients and colleagues, but your bigger priority should be taking care of yourself and your current obligations. By setting this boundary, you can give yourself the space to work without being interrupted and accomplish more.

Changing our behaviors to avoid being a workaholic takes effort, but it’s crucial to prevent burnout. Being a business owner does not mean you have to work around the clock to get everything done. These 5 tips can help you manage your workload and give you the freedom to live the life you deserve.

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