Where's the time?
Ever since I started Zaengle Corp, there's never been enough time. The balancing act I do from day to day, hopping between retainer work, to project, to sales, to marketing, to making sure the rest of the team has what they need... When do I ever actually have time to spend working on the business?
It feels like never.
Once you recognize that the purpose of your life is not to serve your business, but that the primary purpose of your business is to serve your life, you can then work on your business, rather than in it, with a full understanding of why it is absolutely necessary for you to do so.Michael E. Gerber
The E-Myth Revisited
When I started Zaengle corp back in 2009, it was just me. It was back before the gobs of social media marketing, responsive design, and when Flash was still a thing people used on the web. I had this idea that I would blog about all the things I learned; useful things like accounting, setting up payroll, and marketing. I even took the time to outline in no fewer than 10 bullet points several of these articles.
None of those articles made it past the bullet points because I chose to make other things a priority.
I wish I had written those articles. It would be fun to reread those experiences, to re-live the stresses of figuring out how to pay myself, or where to send taxes, or what the heck is an s-corp election?
But now, over 5 years later, I've learned something that I'm determined to take the time to share.
If there's anything you want to do, you have to stop the excuses.
Stop watching your shows or playing your games all evening long; get up early or stay up late; make the time to just sit down and make it happen.
And yes, this sometimes means taking a break from client work (hi Clients!). This last one is the most difficult because it’s a paradox: If I don’t take the time to nurture my business, the less valuable it is (and I am) to clients; but client work is what sustains my growth and success! The bottom line is that I’m the only one who can prevent client work from encroaching on the wellbeing of my own business. I’m the only one who can say no at the right time.
That's easy to say, I know. I don't think the solution is the same for everyone; you need to find the time that works for you. Some folks like to set a whole day aside for internal work, some set aside weeks. I burn the late night oil and drink coffee.
But, what do you do when you've done all that? You've pushed through the excuses and ultra-organized every aspect of your day to the point where you are a fine-tuned machine of productivity; and you still don't have enough time. Now what? At some point there really is no time left - you’re running yourself into the ground every day and losing your health and balance in the process.
Burnout is a very real and dangerous thing.
Here are a few ideas that have come to the surface through my past years, as I’ve attempted to maintain my sanity and relationships while growing my business.
Live Your Values
First you need to define what's important to you, personally. For me, I value spending time with my wife and son; I like to spend time outdoors and read or watch Netflix. Without boundaries in place to protect my time and sanity, this would never happen.
If you haven't seen a priorities quadrant, that's about to change. It really helped me wrap my head around the fact that just because something is urgent does not necessarily mean it's important. On the other hand, just because you lack a sense of urgency about something, it doesn't mean you should delay the work.
I hated even writing that headline. Saying no is hard, but it's even harder to say yes and then not deliver. I've made a rule for myself that if I have any hesitation at all regarding the answer to a commitment, I postpone the decision until I can think without pressure.
This is one of the most effective ways to prevent burnout: Learn to delegate, and delegate often. This was a difficult lesson for me to learn; it took several months filled of 12-14 hour work days before it hit me (or maybe that was my wife?) that I was being an idiot by trying to do everything myself.
We now have systems that help identify bottlenecks (often me) and redistribute that work. For example: The whole team meets every day for 15 minutes to review completed, current, and blocked tasks. If someone is overloaded we can all help them and redistribute the work (see above). It's fantastic for team trust and culture. Win.
“What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.”Dwight Eisenhower
34th President of the United States
Driven on My Own Terms
At the end of the day, I can't turn my drive off (did you get that computer pun?). So I still work late. I still put in more than 8 hours a day. But now it's by choice (most of the time), and that freedom is what I want you to have, too.
Go get something done.
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