The truth is that, as a small business owner, you will naturally find yourself handling all kinds of different tasks, being pulled in multiple directions at the same time. Even though that’s the case, you still shouldn’t have to destroy yourself in the process.
Most business owners are extremely ambitious and results-driven, so no matter what is thrown at them, they just push through and get it done without a second thought.
That may become a problem, if you’re not careful. It’s all about balance & making sure you are not letting yourself become too overwhelmed. The aim of this post is to give you at least the beginnings of a plan for using healthy practices to manage the heavy load and still get everything done.
A Day in the Life of a Small Business Owner
A small business owner, especially with a new business, will have a ton of responsibilities. As you most likely have minimal or zero staff in the beginning, to take any of the load off to run and complete everything, there’s really no way around the fact that you will have a lot on your plate. Hopefully, you at least have a partner, but if you’re working alone, then you are forced to do pretty much all of it.
A new business owner doesn’t get much sleep, they probably don’t have any personal time to relax, and they’ll be working long days without many days off, if any at all. Every day, they’ll have to shift from one task to another, all day long. So, it’s unavoidable that they will have to wear many hats, but the idea is to make sure you don’t overload yourself..
Healthy Practices to Manage Your Workload
There is a lot more that you can do than you think, to manage a heavy workload when running your business. The #1 thing that you have to make sure you never neglect is sleep. As a professional in any field, we all lose sleep at one time or another to be sure everything gets done. The problem is that too many business owners fail to respect the grave importance of getting sufficient sleep.
We think that if we can still function, then there’s no problem, but just because you can still function on a basic level doesn’t mean that you’re okay. Diet and sleep are the two things that you absolutely cannot neglect, and sleep is the big one. Too little sleep leads to all kinds of problems that you don’t want to deal with:
Another thing that you don’t want to let get out of control is the multiple tasks for which you are responsible. Prioritize your tasks. It might come naturally to you, or it might take a little more discipline for you, depending on your predisposition. Whatever the case may be, you’ve got to get the most essential & time-sensitive tasks done first.
If you finish your primary tasks, and you’re left with the less important things, then you may be able to put off the latter to give yourself a little rest and take care of those other things at a later time.
It’s easy to become anxious or overwhelmed and start jumping around from one task to another during your day, in an effort to get back on top of it. That approach can add a lot of stress, but you can avoid it by deliberately prioritizing your tasks and writing them down, if that will be helpful to you (which it usually is). What you’re addressing with this is the chaos; chaos breeds anxiety and burnout.
Creating a schedule that turns that chaos of tasks into organization is a pivotal step to keeping yourself from becoming overwhelmed. When you write out your agenda for each day, prioritizing tasks while noting the time that each item should take, the organization can help you keep a consistent flow, rather than getting overcome by it.
Prepare Yourself for Tough Periods
Taking the time to acknowledge the fact that there are inevitably going to be times when you’re forced to strain yourself more than you probably should, while running a business is key. No matter how conscientious or organized you are, you will encounter times when you end up working 12 or more hours per day, which is exactly why it’s critical that you observe the healthy practices we discussed.
In addition to those practices, do what you know, personally, because that can be most helpful to you when you endure high-stress periods. In other words, you know what works best for you when you’re faced with extreme stress, better than anyone else. Unfortunately, in your line of work, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be times when the business becomes overwhelming.
When that happens, you have to know how to react to it in a positive way, as well as keep a support system handy. Friends and family are tremendously helpful to deal with elevated stress. Don’t scoff at it because your loved ones can help you push through it when you’re freaking out due to the insane workload.
Also, make sure that you take time for yourself during the day to unplug for a moment and re-center, so that you can calm yourself in whatever way that you choose to. If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, that is not something you can ignore. Take action to deal with it, with deliberate and effective measures.
When You’re Overwhelmed, You Make Mistakes
Don’t get cocky. When you think you’re invincible and push through all of the stress and long hours without any self-care, bad things happen for you and your company. High stress can lead to mistakes, which is a huge reason why you’ve got to manage your stress instead of ignoring it when you think you have it under control.
It’s possible that you might not even realize the mistakes that you’re making at the time, as you’re rushing through everything. When something comes back to bite you because it wasn’t handled properly for whatever reason, you then have to take additional time to fix the problem.
Any business owner knows all too well that the best policy is to handle something early on, so that it doesn’t grow and worsen, eating up more time and resources. Be as rational as possible about your schedule and your workload. Recognize that you may have to take special measures to be sure you can handle all of the work without making costly mistakes.
If You Have a Team, Use Your Team
If you’re fortunate enough to have even one employee as a new business, then you have an incredible resource of which you should take advantage. First of all, do not be afraid to delegate tasks to your employees; you shouldn’t have to do everything by yourself, if you have a choice in the matter.
You hired them for a reason, and if you hired capable people, then you need to trust them to do their jobs. They are your allies and can take a substantial amount of the weight off of your shoulders. When you’re a new company, everybody on your team might have to take on a few different roles, which is not uncommon, so don’t worry too much about giving them some extra work, if need be. Explain to them that they are greatly needed to help the company succeed.
The truth is that most people who are part of a struggling new business will be happy to help because it makes them feel like they are an important member of the team, which of course they are. Delegate tasks to multiple people, spread out the workload, and therefore significantly lower your own stress level.
To bring this all down into a single point, don’t forget to take care of yourself as you work the long hours that you’ll no doubt need to work as a small business owner. As you know, it will require you to wear a lot of hats, but that doesn’t mean you have to be miserable and negatively affect your health while you’re doing it.
Never ignore the signals that your body is giving you, get good sleep, and be sure to set aside some time with your loved ones, so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.