I wear many hats. Or, I used to? Maybe I still do, but I’m consciously trying to wear less. I’m teaching myself that doing less as an entrepreneur to get more done is acceptable and favorable. Last year I attempted to juggle 3 different jobs, a blog, do illustrations and just live a life on top of that. At the time, I think I thought success and happiness could be found by ‘hedging my skills/time’ on all these different things. One of them had to hit right?
Instead my brilliant plan backfired, it didn’t fail, but it wasn’t successful either.
While not completely unsuccessful, it was physically exhausting, mentally draining and simply not fun. And that combination led to major unhappiness. By Fridays I was a zombie but still had work to do. Weekends were spent staring at my computer or hustling to finish commissions that needed to be sent off instead of taking time to better myself or hang out with friends. Practicing ‘the art of doing less’ as someone who struggles with immense ADHD and anxiety is difficult to say the less.
So how can you start doing less as an entrepreneur to get more done?
1. Trim The Fat
This was the first thing I did. Once I hit my breaking point, I realized I had to let some of my projects go. I started saying NO to people, I talked to my partner and we closed shop on our new venture (he was moving anyway so it worked out perfectly). I did some cost/benefit analysis’ on everything I was doing and figured out what was the most beneficial for me at the time.
2. Be Honest With Yourself
I’m so guilty of lying to myself: Maybe it’s blind optimism or naivety (which I think is a common trait of many entrepreneurs. While it gets a negative rap, I think it can actually be beneficial in many situations.) I get really mad when people lie to me…so why would I lie to myself. Sit yourself down and get real! Listen to your heart, gut and brain and figure out what you truly want to spend your time working on.
3. Develop Systems
If you haven’t read the book Work the System and you’re trying to build a business: Read It! While it’s obviously on the extreme scale of organization, it’s all about optimization, processes and reducing the time you spend personally working on things. I also have been developing systems/processes for my own life and it’s helps me reduce my anxiety/stress. Win-Win.
4. Ask For Help
I’m such a stubborn bitch. Let me rephrase, I used to be! (And I shouldn’t call myself a bitch, that’s mean-ish) Ever since we started Phox Charge I have practiced the difficult art of learning to ask for help with grace and gratitude. I think it’s become much more acceptable now to ask for help with the sharing economy that’s blossomed over the past few years. My word of warning on this though: just because you ask people for help or advice, does NOT mean you should take it! Be sure to make sure what they’re giving you is genuine and in your interests not just theirs. Always try to make things a win-win and seek advice from people with real experience not just paper experience. (aka, don’t always trust their Linkedin resume. this shouldn’t come as a shock….but people lie.)
5.Divide and Conquer
Once you’re able to break the habit of saying, “I’ll just do it”, you’ll instantly become less stressed and more successful. I’d run myself into the ground because I felt this compulsion to just take matters into my own hands. This goes back to developing processes and systems for things you do, so that others can do them for you. I love Ari Meisel and the principles he talks about on his blog, less doing, and in his book,
His big thing is: “Optimize, Automate, Outsource“. Do what you can and want to do, then find others for the things you can’t or don’t want to do. I also ask my partner in crime, Jason, for help a lot. We’ve spent 3+ years building a company and life together. We’ve learned to lean on each other and work pretty harmoniously with each other (most of the time). We utilize Asana task management to map out our weeks both professional and personal to delegate important tasks.
6. Slow Down
This may sound counterproductive to getting more done. But I’ve found that I’ve accomplished a lot more in less time by actually slowing down. This is a very conscious act. I am consciously aware of the time I spend on activities and the amount of attention/time those activities need. I’m not perfect. Sometimes I’ll rush through something hoping to get it done faster, only to find I’ve made a mistake and have to spend time correcting it. So if I had simply slowed down and spent 2-3 minutes longer, I probably would have caught the mistake and corrected it then. It also allows me to fully experience the moment and I can take more joy in the journey.
Let’s recap: Entrepreneurs have a habit of consistently biting off more than they can chew. It’s in our nature. Our brains don’t stop and that can lead to putting our eggs in too many baskets. We spread ourselves too thin and every aspect of our lives begin to suffer. Slow down, take a step back, ask for help and appropriately delegate tasks. Begin developing systems that will help simplify your life so you can take back your productivity and sanity. Doing less to get more done IS possible, but it takes work. Oh the irony!