3 Tips for Working Smarter and Gaining More Personal Time

You’ve probably heard the maxim that it’s better to work smarter than harder right?. Working smarter means allocating your time, energy and money so vital tasks get done more efficiently, freeing up your personal time.

Too many business owners think they must keep working harder to be successful—taking on more responsibilities and working longer hours.  It makes sense, because you’re responsible for your business, but that route leads to work overload and burn out. Ultimately, your business will be unsustainable if you keep pushing yourself to work harder and your health could take a nose dive.

Here are 3 tips to working smarter.

1. Commit to deep work

How often do you get five minutes into a project just to be distracted by your email notifications or text messages? It’s difficult to cognitively focus on a task while being so distracted. Your mind has to bounce back and forth between different activities, and it takes time to transition every time a new email comes in.

Set aside time each day put your cell phone is on silent, turn off your email notifications and your computer notifications as well.  Use that time to focus on your most cognitively demanding tasks. Eliminating distractions frees up your brain to focus on the activity at hand, puts you in the flow, which in turn enables you to get your work done more quickly.

2. Find the right business management tools

There are many fantastic platforms and software-as-a-service tools to help you run your business, but not all of them are right for you. It’s easy to get tempted by the latest app that claims to make your life easier. Before you sign up for another subscription service, make sure it actually benefits you.

Don’t sign up for something because it’s marketed as saving time, make sure it actually will save you time.  Do some research, talk to others that are using it.  Otherwise, it just becomes one more tool that you have to log into and use to justify the expense. Productivity apps aren’t productive if you’ve already got your team logged into three other apps. Get rid of platforms that are redundant or don’t meet your needs. Don’t use any platforms because you can—investigate them to make sure they solve a problem for you or make a process more efficient.

That said, when you do find a tool that makes your life easier and more efficient, buy it and use it. You can purchase software to make invoicing easier, simplify project management, and even manage your time.

3. Increase your rates

If you haven’t increased your rates in a while it’s a great time to consider doing so. Have you run your numbers to know what your breakeven costs are?  Or your operating cost unit?  These numbers will help you define what you need to charge and what profit you are making per unit.  Increasing your rates means you can focus on higher paying clients, earning you more money in less time. You don’t have to raise your rates a huge amount, either. Increase them enough that if you lose a few clients, your business won’t suffer financially. Then focus on finding new clients who will pay you at your higher rate.

Final thoughts

Being a successful business owner means working hard—but it doesn’t mean you have to keep working harder. Finding ways to work smarter—by increasing your rates, investigating management tools and committing to deep work—will help you in the long run.

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