Women leading women

Don’t be a slave to your workload!

If you are an entrepreneur you inevitably find that you your workload is unrelenting.  Typically what most people do is work even longer hours to see if they can break the back of the load.  British entrepreneurs tend to work in excess of the European directive of a 48 hour working week.  If this becomes a habit, it will have a knock on effect; if you regularly work very long hours you will become over tired, over tiredness leads to poor performance, poor performance will start to noticeably affect your enterprise, which can lead to a decrease in sales or traffic to your business.  All these factors also have a negative impact on family life and will lead to stress, illness or both.

The cost of neglecting your well-being and that of your work colleagues can be high. The unexpected absence of just one member of staff can greatly affect productivity and efforts to secure cover can be costly and time-consuming. “It is estimated that absence currently costs over £600 per employee per year in direct costs. For a small business with 30 employees this means an average cost of more than £18,000 per year, which is a significant outgoing,” explains Fiona Robson, human resources expert at Newcastle Business School.

But what is the remedy?  The reality is that if you are a small business or just starting out, your work force is small. That means fewer people to share the load which must be dealt with in order for you to generate much needed business.

I’m sure that by now, you have heard about time management, prioritising your workload, etc. But for some, depending on what field you are in and the size of your company, it still makes little difference in that the volume of work doesn’t decrease and still needs to get done.

So what practical changes can be implemented within your company that will make a tangible difference?

1. Appoint a second in command. Sounds obvious, but many entrepreneurs don’t think about doing this until a few years into their business, long after the wear and tear has started to set in.  In order to have a sound work-life balance in your life, as early on as you possibly can try and have someone or some people working by your side who have the same passion and vision you have for your company.  This will ensure that you can take holidays when you need them secure in the knowledge that your company won’t unravel at the seams.

2. Take stock of all the jobs that are outstanding. Make two piles; one of the work that only you can do, and another pile of the work that can be delegated.  Have someone stand over you with a whip if need be to ensure that you don’t keep pinching things from the delegate pile and putting it back onto yours.  Entrepreneurs have extraordinary difficulty delegating!

3. Of the work that can be delegated, outsource it to interns. This is a great way of the intern getting valuable hands on experience in the field of their choice, it takes a lot of pressure off yourself and your team and ensures that everything keeps ticking over and the ball doesn’t get dropped on anything.   This is a great investment as the intern could end up becoming a permanent member of staff when your business starts taking off.

4. Ensure that you go home early or on time at least once a week. Work hard at making this a habit; your spouse and children will appreciate it!

5. Have a company fun day at least once a month. This is great for team building, wonderful for morale and it’s just great to step out from the high pressured world of entrepreneurship and let your hair down!   You could have a masseuse come to your business and give massages to you and your employees; you could have a hair and beauty expert give your staff a makeover; a lifestyle expert can come and draw up individual plans for you and your staff, have a chef come in and prepare a meal (you can even go along the Jamie Oliver ‘great meals for a fiver’ route!), or simply crack open a few bottles of wine and have a laugh! Be as creative as you like – whatever you do it doesn’t need to be expensive.  Remember, the aim is to relax, unwind and put the ‘life’ into work/life balance.

How have you battled with your never diminishing workload? What worked for you? Add a comment and share your story.

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About the Author: Belinda is a feature writer for Women Unlimited and a freelance copywriter.  Email her if you are are looking for fresh content for your website or blog

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1 Comment
  1. steve crandall says

    There is a lot of truth in what Belinda says. I’m a cofounder of a very small business in the US and the amount of work can seem overwhelming. At the same time you tend to think that only you can do it and don’t think about delegating or asking someone else for help. As you try to balance your family life there is a certain amount of burnout and your thinking becomes stale.

    Giving yourself something completely different to do is a great mini vacation and can clear your mind. I’ve found myself solving problems I had been wrestling with for a month a few days into one of these little vacations.

    One of the best solutions I’ve seen is practiced in a small company that has been extremely successful in attracting great talent. The woman who started it told people she didn’t want to see anyone working more than 50 hours a week and no one was allowed to take work home. She thought people would be freshest if they could completely focus at work. She also told new workers she was hiring them for being good, but if they could do what was needed in the 50 hours or less, they weren’t smart enough to be working there. Of course this can only work if the work loads are managed, but they do it in an environment where their competitors (silicon valley) usually log 70+ hour work weeks and consider that a badge of honor.