It seems to be an affliction many entrepreneurs share – they think that by putting in long work weeks and thinking about nothing but their burgeoning businesses, they will be able to make it grow more quickly and achieve their professional goals. That reasoning is skewed, however.
Consider your own work patterns. Even if you put in days that are 10 hours or longer, work on the weekends and spend the rest of your free time thinking about the company, how much of that time are you actually being effective? Do you find yourself in the office, staring at a pile of work, and wasting minutes or hours trying to make sense of what’s in front of you?
At The Covenant Group, we have met a lot of entrepreneurs who are too busy working IN their businesses to work ON them. Wrapped up in the minute details, they cannot determine where their companies are going or ever decide where they WANT them to go. Stepping away from the daily grind, giving yourself permission to take a breath and think, is far more important than making sure you respond to five more emails before going home for the day.
I think a recent Harvard Business Review blog post written by Robert C. Pozen casts more light on this perception that work quantity supersedes quality, as well as the workoholic culture that has risen around it. As he points out, we log our productivity in terms of hours, instead of results and the value that professionals such as analysts, consultants and lawyers “create through their knowledge.”
From a resource management perspective, this attitude can cut down on your own and your employees’ productivity, because they are thinking too much about how long they are at the office instead of “answering the most critical question: ‘Am I currently using my time in the best possible way?'” Pozen points out.
Many of the entrepreneurs we’ve coached have said that they are already maxed out on how much time they can put into their business and feel stuck at a certain income level or number of clients. They feel that it would be impossible to grow their businesses any further, since there are only so many hours in the day. The solution is not to dedicate additional time to the company, but to give a greater effort when you are there. Delegate some of the more time-consuming, less-valuable tasks that consume your time to an employee. Think about whether your daily tasks are truly advancing the firm, or whether they just constitute busy work. Being honest about your own productivity is the first step to cutting down hours and improving results.