Dealing with overload as an entrepreneur: Ways of reducing the pressure

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As an entrepreneur, there will be times where it feels like the pressure is too greater. As though there are never enough hours in the day to achieve everything that you were planning on getting to, and that the backlog is starting to mount. This is a normal feeling, and you are not alone. In fact, it can be an indication of some degree of success – you may be in a better situation than if you did not have anything to be working on. 

While having a long list of tasks to be working on is common for entrepreneurs, it is also important to recognize that it may be beneficial to take proactive steps to reduce the workload. 

Prioritize: Work on what is important

The first thing that you should consider when you feel that your workload is exponentially increasing is whether some tasks are more important than others. It is not uncommon to have a long list of things that you are working on when launching a business – and for the list of daily tasks to steadily increase as you find more and more important areas.

Taking a step back can help identify both the critical high-impact areas that you need to work on, as well as the low-value-add activities that only a negligible impact on your business. Gaining a sense of the relative importance of the different activities that you undertake is an important first stage in looking to streamline your work. 

Scrap: Look for low value add tasks

Once you have an understanding of the relative importance of the various activities that you are involved in, critically examine whether there are some that are so low-value-add that you can opt to completely scrap them from your routine.

Possibly it is the social media account, that you started with great enthusiasm, but never gained much traction. Maybe it is a side project that you began but never gained customer interest. Critically examining what is important for your business, and what activities essentially add no value, will often reveal things that you have been doing that can likely just be stopped. 

Simplify: Are there ways of making everything run smoother

While reviewing your activities may reveal some that can be fully scrapped, there will be many more that you won’t be able to completely stop. This is where it is important to consider if there is a way of simplifying the task, such that you can gain all or a majority of the benefit that you were previously gaining, but with less effort required.

One of the easiest things to look for simplification opportunities is routine activities that can be standardized (and potentially automated). Early on in a business, it is not uncommon for a lot of non-standardization, with every task unique as you learn the best ways it should be performed. Over time though, getting some standardization into the process can help ensure both the consistency in the activities that you do, while also reducing the effort that is required for the task. 

Schedule: Recognize some areas will be worked on later

For other tasks that you have identified, the best approach to reducing the workload will be to schedule them for a later point in time. It is never possible to work on everything at once, and scheduling some tasks for a later period will help not only focus on the other areas at hand but also potentially allow you to put greater effort into the delayed tasks when you come to them.  

Delegate: Are there others that you can offload smaller tasks to?

A final approach to streamlining your tasks is to consider whether there are tasks that you can delegate to others. This is an important skill (assuming that you want to take your business beyond being a solo entrepreneur) – and is likely the only way that you can ultimately significantly scale your firm.

Final thoughts: Entrepreneurship is about being smart, not busy

A final thing to keep in mind is that being a successful entrepreneur involves being smart about what you work on – not being busy. Yes, determination is important, but there will come a point where you also need to critically think through what is the best use of your time.

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