Whether you’re running a business or just working hard to try to get ahead, it’s really easy to let work take over your life. Many people find themselves giving up numerous evening weekends, just to stay afloat, when in reality there’s nothing more you’d like to do than to have that time to spend with your family, do things you enjoy outside of work, and to live your life. So when you find yourself staying late at the office, or having to give up that precious weekend time, here are a few things you can do to take that time back.
Don’t Schedule Too Much
When you schedule and plan your upcoming week, don’t try to be a hero. Be smart and realistic with what you can actually get done each day and through the week. One of the biggest reasons people end up working into their own time is because they were too ambitious with what they planned to get done.
Schedule in Slush and Backup Time
Each day it is important to schedule additional time that you keep open for tasks that go overtime or when something pops up. Your role and your skill level will typically determine how much slush time you need to schedule, but a good starting point would be 10-20%. You could either do it by adding an additional 10-20% of time to each task you have to complete, or by adding 10-20% additional open time throughout the day or at the end of the day.
Prioritize Your Tasks in a Week
It’s important to determine which tasks are “A” priorities and which tasks are “B” priorities. An “A” priority is one that must get done that week. A “B” priority is a task you would like to get done that week, but if needed could be moved to the following week. Schedule your A’s first, followed by your B’s. If something takes longer than expected, or another “A” comes up, it will allow you to easily recognize what should get done, and what can be moved.
Set Firm Deadlines
As you schedule your week or day, it’s important to set firm deadlines for tasks and for the end of your work day. Although it’s admirable to say you’ll work on it for as long as it takes, by setting a firm deadline it teaches you to problem solve how to hit deadlines. Imagine I told you to run to the end of your block. Now, imagine I told you have 1 minute to get to the end of your block. The result for each case would be different. By setting a deadline it forces different behaviour.
Learn How to Say No
Many people find themselves working evenings and weekends because they just have too much work to get done during reasonable hours. Often this excess work is a result of saying ‘yes’ to too many things. It’s up to you to manage the promises you make and what you take on. And although it may seem noble to always say yes to extra work, it’s not good if it affects either your quality of work, or your feeling about the job or company. I’d much rather an employee that says they currently have too much to get done and cannot taken on additional work, than an employee that takes on too much, doesn’t get it done or does it poorly and is unhappy because they feel overworked. Taking on extra work is valuable, but be honest with what you can really handle and be at your best.
Working evenings and weekends is something that many have experienced on the journey to success, and there are definitely times when doing it is needed and makes sense; but that doesn’t mean you have to do it all the time in order to be successful. By developing your skill in priority management and scheduling, and by implementing the keys above, you can start to take some of your precious evenings and weekends back!
Launch365 specializes in coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs through business startup and on core business skills. We provide training and coaching on priority management and scheduling, with a focus on improving both business results and lifestyle. If you would like to discuss how we could help you with your business or on these skills, contact us at: www.launch365.ca/contact-us. To download our startup guide “Startup Success Blueprint” for free go to: www.launch365.ca/startup-success .