One thing that I admire about women solopreneurs and micro-business owners is their capacity to carry the weight of everything they do.
Don’t get me wrong, I admire that strength, but I wish we were able to utilise it differently…
According to a Canadian study conducted on 2,073 employees, women between age of 25 – 35 and women over 50 are more susceptible to suffering from workplace-related burnout.
Now we could either draw ‘vulgar’ correlations with early motherhood and menopause, or we could view it from a responsibility point of view. 25 – 35 is the age where women tend to start building their family life, bearing most of the family responsibility on their shoulders, while 50 is the age when the family’s elderly care starts for women… could that be a more realistic conclusion?
Between parenting and work, working weeks can stretch to 90 hours for some women … and no resilience work-out or self-care mantra can be a real solution to the needs of female entrepreneurship.
So, what do we do?
Aside from classic personal efficiency tips such as removing distractions, focus, asking for help, and delegating, I have 3 strategies that I practice and preach.
My 3 strategies to gaining personal efficiency as a women entrepreneur
Strategy #1: Guilt-free prioritisation:
This is an excellent method to decide what aspect of your business or our life really needs you. Here is my special matrix to help you:
Despite what most people think, your number one priority is not a task that only you can complete. These top priority tasks are high impact but can be completed by others. You must unblock the situation, empower the person, brief them properly so that they can complete the task to a high standard. My best example is: you need to file your tax and your accountant is waiting on essential information from you. Prioritise that communication above everything because you will unblock that person and the task will be completed while you are completing your own high impact tasks.
Priority number 2:
These are the tasks that you need to complete by yourself and they have high impact. For example, calling a very warm lead to close the deal (unless you have a sales team), writing your pitch, meeting an investor, participating in an event where you might meet key people… One key thing is that these tasks, due to their nature of being “high impact” consume a lot of energy. So do not overbook yourself with these types of tasks. A few weeks ago, I attended three online networking events in one week. DO NOT DO IT. In the end, it wasted time because I lost energy and stamina.
Priority number 3:
These are the tasks that you must do but you can do them later, or with less involvement… The problem with these types of tasks is, they get chucked onto what I call the “procrastination” list. And they stay on your to-do list forever, causing you to feel stressed, overwhelmed, lacking in accomplishment. My trick is to schedule them in the calendar and stick to the calendar. One by one.
Priority number 4:
Delegate them and have one big mantra: good enough is more than enough! Now, for the control freaks and perfectionists, the worst thing that you can do is to expect that someone will do it as well as you would. This will not happen. But, by creating the tightest brief possible and by setting up some systems you can make sure that they are not too far off.
In essence, for a low impact task, the fact that it is not completed to perfection is not a problem. But, if you are a perfectionist, you will make a problem out of it. So, make sure to minimise the decision-making of the person who will complete the task, to prevent delegating for failure.
Strategy #2: Externalisation, or “set your life on fire, seek those who fan your flames”
Yes we are superwomen, but also we are not, and we need others in two ways:
1. Ask for help:
Grab as much help as you can, in the house and in your business. My mantra is, pay yourself less if you must, but buy time. When it comes to your household, whether you have a family or live alone, invest in creating time for yourself and for your family.
At one of our networking events, I met an amazing women entrepreneur who is the founder of an online childcare market place. Her advice was, “Have low standards of tidiness at home and get help.” BUY TIME is the mantra of all great entrepreneurs, even the solo ones!
Entrepreneurship is lonely, and it brings a learning curve with pretty rough patches. It requires us to get out of our comfort zone and do things that we don’t even know how to do. This type of difficulty is a real challenge from a psychological point of view. Our brain is structured to protect us from danger. Challenge, change, new, are all signs of danger. They are the stimulus of three psychological responses: Freeze, flight, fight.
Procrastination, quitting and changing strategy constantly are the ways our brain tries to protect us from the unknown world of entrepreneurship. Therefore, we need allies, we need accountability partners, we need those who will fan our flames when all we want to do is to jump into the cool water. This is exactly why we built EMPOWER Tribe, our community of female solopreneurs and micro-business owners. If you’re not yet a member, you should give us a go.
Strategy number 3: Energise
I was talking to a young entrepreneur earlier this week. She said she was extremely ambitious, she wanted to make her business work, and was therefore happy to put crazy hours into it.
I get it. My business is my playground, it’s genuinely my happy place and I don’t even see how the hours go by… I don’t count hours and I know that some weeks I reach easily 80 hours per week.
WRONG! I should not do it and no one should. Our bodies and brains are not made to work like this. We have the capacity to do bursts of crazy hours: Short periods (1 – 3 weeks) of silly working hours… but that’s about it.
Above 48 hours / week is considered long working hours. Studies show that a reduction in long hours is associated with an increase in productivity.
My personal advice is:
- Do a time audit to understand where your working hours go and assess your focus breakers. This will definitely make you wiser on your patterns of work and will allow you to gain time.
- Analyse and take notes about your productivity and energy hours. Productivity and energy levels vary from one person to another. My best focus hours are between 12pm and 2pm. I learned this from my student years. My lowest productivity is early morning (7–9 am) and 2-4pm. I know this and I organise my priorities and tasks accordingly. I prefer taking a walk at 2 pm rather than trying to complete a high priority task.
- Use mood and energy boosters. Mine is 3-minute dance parties… you will know what yours might be. Coffee, walk…?
Gaining personal efficiency is not about speed or just productivity… it is about creating time and energy for what matters most to you. Whether it is visiting an art gallery, having a date night with your partner, or a play-dough hour with your child.