5 Easy Steps To Reduce Your Workload (Even If You Don’t Have Employees)

Even with all the tools available today to make processes or the completion of projects easier, the workload for business owners or entrepreneurs has never been greater. With more options comes more distractions, which can result in inefficiencies and unproductive behaviours. Oftentimes, this leads to the feeling of being overwhelmed and a loss in motivation to complete projects.

We all want to experience the sense that things are flowing with ease in our lives. Therefore, having less things to do is really the starting point. A lot of productivity methodologies these days focus on how we can do more with less, either in less time or with less resources. While that is valid and is very useful, wouldn’t it make sense to reduce our workload in the first place so we have less things to deal with?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here are five simple steps you can take to reduce your workload which ultimately means you will have less things to attend to and more time to do the things you really enjoy.

  1. Assess what you are currently working on. Assessing simply means knowing what’s on your plate and when it needs to be done by. Entrepreneurs, especially those who are experts in certain fields, have a tendency to get excited about new ideas or new projects, however find it challenging to see it through all the way to completion. That is certainly the case for me too and now I am more diligent about what projects I do take on.

    Here is a simple process I use to assess the projects I’d like to work on and more importantly, the projects I am more likely to complete. This is the summarized process.

    • Write down all the projects you’d like to work on or are currently working.
    • From the list above, choose the top five that you’re most interested in or is most important to you.
    • Write down those five projects in a table in the left hand column.
    • Create five additional columns with the heading Passion, Experience, Research, Knowledge and Total. (This, by the way, is the PERK Method for project prioritization.)
    • Score under each of the headings out of 10, for each of the five listed projects, how passionate you are about the project, how much experience you already have in relation to that project, how much research you’ve already done, and what your level of knowledge is for the project.
    • Add each of your scores for the five projects and write them under the Total column.
    • The project with the highest score is the one you are most likely to complete first, followed by the next highest score and so on.

    Following this simple process will help clarify what you need to focus on next and it also frees your mind from worrying about all the other things or projects that you were thinking of previously. As you complete projects, add new things to your list by following the same process.

  2. Outsource anything that is not your core talent. As entrepreneurs, we tend to try and do most things ourselves, especially solopreneurs (those who run their businesses alone). The easiest way to reduce your workload is to find service providers, who typically are contractors, to complete tasks for you for a fee.

    For example, I outsource all my graphic and website design work, as that is not my skill-set. There are providers available online who can do work ranging from content creation, book editing, audio or video editing to offering virtual assistant services, to name a few.

  3. Ask for help. This can be asking for resources, ideas, support during a promotion or campaign, or asking for a solution to a challenge you are facing. The challenge is many people find it difficult to ask for help. I wrote previously about the importance of asking and what prevents people from asking. Here is the link to that post.
  4. Start saying NO more often. As highlighted in Point #1, we can only work on a few things at any given time. Completing what we currently have on should take priority over anything new (unless there are exceptional reasons for doing so). Don’t take on new projects until existing projects have been completed. Learning to say no is so important which is why I wrote a post about it titled “Why Saying NO is Critical to Your Success.”
  5. Get better at managing emails. Email is a very important communication tool however it can be a major distraction if it’s not managed well. How much time do you spend a day either reading, deleting or replying to emails? I can spend up to two hours per day dealing with emails, although I have significantly reduced that time in recent months. One of the best definitions I have come across for an inbox is, “It is nothing but a convenient organizing system for other people’s agendas.”

    At the start of every year, I usually go through a process of unsubscribing from mailing lists which no longer serve me. I encourage you to do the same. You can also set-up rules within your email system that can help manage your emails and you can also set up folders for sorting your emails. Two folders I have set-up are labelled “Action” for anything that requires me to do something, and “Waiting” for anything I’m waiting on someone else to do something.

These are some simple steps to start reducing your workload and free up more of your time to do the things that are important to you. My motto is to do less instead of getting better at doing more.

Question: Which of these steps did you find most useful? Why?

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  • Sean Smith

    Awesome, Neel. For me, managing the inbox is the most important task to increase my productivity for sure. It helps to set aside a couple chunks throughout the day when I tend to my inbox, and not touch it outside of those time chunks. Great article.

    • Neel Raman

      Thanks Sean for sharing your insights. Managing emails is such an important task for me every day. One habit I am working on changing is not checking my emails on my phone. I tend to do that at least once every hour. Setting aside a couple of chunks of time during the day is smart move. There is so much that can be done with managing emails that I may write a separate post on that. Thanks again Sean!

  • Jane Ransom

    Thanks, Neel! I’m working on saying NO. It’s easy to underestimate how much time each commitment will actually require. Thx for the support. 🙂

    • Neel Raman

      I agree with you Jane… saying NO can be difficult although I’m much better at it now than even four or five years ago. Thanks for your comments. 🙂