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Work Smart, Not Hard: 7 Essential Tips for Busy Entrepreneurs

Inc. logo Inc. 1/6/2020 Young Entrepreneur Council
a laptop computer sitting on top of a wooden table: Businesswoman working at her office desk with documents and laptop © Getty Images Businesswoman working at her office desk with documents and laptop

Taking time for yourself is not that difficult if you put it in your schedule.

Entrepreneurs have a reputation for working too hard, most of the time to the detriment of their personal life. Especially when starting out, business owners tend to spend long hours at the office, allowing work to gradually take over their entire life. But setting clear boundaries between work and personal life and knowing when to take time off for yourself is crucial to avoiding burnout and helping you maintain the same level of focus and productivity long term.

These seven entrepreneurs share their best methods and strategies for business owners to become less like workaholics and attain that much-desired work-life balance.

Book a personal day.

Since busy entrepreneurs often forget to take time off, an effective solution would be to include some time away from the office in their schedule, United Capital Source Inc. CEO Jared Weitz advises.

"Just as you schedule meetings for growing your business and meeting with various people, do the same for your personal life and for time alone," Weitz explains. "I find that when my calendar is booked already, I am less inclined to fill it with more work and am able to step away."

Arrive and leave on time.

"Just as you're expected to arrive to work on time, you need to do the same when you leave," WPForms co-founder Jared Atchison chimes in, while talking about the importance of setting boundaries between work and personal life.

Any entrepreneur who is constantly staying late to get more done when it isn't written in their schedule is most likely a workaholic, Atchison adds. "Understand that you deserve a break after a long day and you don't need to burn yourself out to be successful."

Plan leisure trips on a regular basis.

Besides knowing when to stop working for the day, busy leaders should also go on vacation regularly and by all means avoid working while they're away, according to Patrick Barnhill, founder and president of Specialist ID, Inc.

"You need to establish that your leisure time is yours, and changing your surroundings can help," Barnhill explains. To that end, entrepreneurs can make a list of all the places they want to visit in a year and do their best to get there. And if they can't afford or don't have time for long plane journeys, they can still organize day trips to local sights with the family.

Delegate and automate.

However, no entrepreneur will take time away unless they are sure the business is left in good hands -- that's why they should learn how to prioritize and delegate tasks early on. If the entrepreneur doesn't have a team yet, they should hire an assistant or consultant to help, insists vChief founder and CEO Madeleine Niebauer.

"Also, figure out ways to automate administrative tasks, like creating template responses in email, automating import of contacts to your CRM or using a social media scheduling tool," Niebauer advises.

Find someone else to do the admin work.

A business aspect that should be delegated, especially in the case of leaders who tend to wear all the hats, is administrative and accounting work, according to Piyush Jain, founder and CEO of SIMpalm.

"The workload spilled over to weekends, as well, and it became tiring. I discussed it with my wife and friends, and finally I found two friends to share some of the admin and accounting work," Jain recounts. Finding someone to help with admin and accounting helped Jain balance his work and family life and hire even more people after the business grew two years later.

Work during productive time periods.

"To ensure you're able to get work done without having it consume your life entirely, I recommend you work during the times when you're the most productive," Accounting Institute of Success CEO Bryce Welker recommends.

This will ensure that you will be able to complete those duties successfully and in a time-effective manner. "I'm a morning person, so I try and accomplish most tasks as early as possible. But if you're a night owl, take care of important tasks in the evening," Welker explains.

Put down the mobile phone.

A seemingly minor but quite important change any entrepreneur could make is to simply put down their mobile phone when need be, says Peter Boyd, president of PaperStreet Web Design.

"It is super easy to get distracted during lunch, morning and night with the phone buzzing with emails, texts and other notifications," Boyd underlines. "Simply put the mobile down. This will allow you to have planned downtime, which you need to stay creative and focused when it matters."

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