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Working efficiently doesn’t mean working more

Every business owner wants to make more money, and in order to do this, they need to make more of the time available to them. Actually getting this to happen, though, is a different matter.

It’s tempting to assume that to get more done, you just have to do more. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? But in many (dare we say most?) cases, this just equates to throwing more of the same work at the same problems, and simply extending the time you take doing your job. You can’t stop to reconsider what you’re doing, because the time you spend re-evaluating your working practices is time when you’re not working. But if you want to learn the secrets of working efficiently, stop for a minute, and take a step back from the coal face.

Working efficiently is NOT about leaving less time between tasks. This might make a small difference here and there, but it just leads to frantic overwork, unreasonable expectations placed on yourself and your team, and reduced productivity in the long run when burnout starts to kick in. Working the same way you’ve always worked, but expecting a more productive and profitable outcome, is the definition of business madness.

The truth is that working efficiently means changing the whole way you approach your work. First of all, you need time to stop and think. This isn’t a wasted chance to “get more done” – the best use of your time is often a meeting, or a short break to clear your head, or sometimes even five minutes spent making a list of what you need to accomplish. Prioritise the tasks you need to achieve, and ask yourself some questions about each one…

Will this task enable you to earn money in the short term? If so, it might help your cashflow and give you some breathing room while you look at the bigger picture. Is it a change to an administrative process that will change the way a regular task is performed? If so, it might save an awful lot of time in the long run. Is it a free job that you’re doing as a favour for a regular client? If you can fit it in between billable jobs, it paves the way for a better relationship with your client. Working efficiently means looking ahead from the task in hand, and recognising the impact that each task will have on your business as a whole.

Every business is different, but the principles of working efficiently are universal. The fact is that if your systems and workflow are smoother and less cluttered, you can achieve greater things with less effort. And that can only be a good thing!

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