Fresh new business cards hot off the press? Check.
The opportunity to start your 18-hour work days at any time you wish? Check.
Entrepreneurial burnout caused by working ridiculous hours?
Starting your own business feels a lot like entering the Wild West. You’re out there armed with your business plan and your never-say-die attitude. Whatever you want, you got it. You can see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the reward for your endeavors.
The problem is that it all comes with a caveat. Although a newly-minted business card, big dreams and enthusiasm can get you off the ground, over time it can become really tough, if not impossible, to balance your new business with your personal life.
According to a UK research firm, the median number of hours that an entrepreneur works per week is 52, that’s 63% more than the average worker.
The Age of the Workaholic
But the worst part is that, for some of us, these statistics might not even be shocking - we live in the age of the workaholic.
I came across an interesting post on Quora claiming that Elon Musk works 100 hours a week, and guess what? He demands the same type of commitment from all of his employees at Tesla.
“Right now, we’re working six days a week. Some people are working seven days a week - I do - but for a lot of people, working seven days a week is not sustainable,” says Musk.
“I think people can sustain a 50-hour work week. I think that’s a good work week. If you’re joining Tesla, you’re joining a company to work hard.”
The Four-Hundred Hour Work Week
Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, may have written a book about how to outsource your life so that you’re only working four hours a week while still making a fortune, but the nature of his industry means that someone has to put in the hours.
Writing for Tim’s blog, his former intern Charlie Hoehn says that he once worked 60 hours straight for his mentor until his “brain felt swollen.” He was working so many hours that he resorted to taking nootropics to maintain his sanity and to keep him going.
There are many more stories like this. For many entrepreneurs, the “40-hour work week” is a thing of the past. It simply doesn’t exist anymore. As the demand to keep a business growing and healthy increases, the demand to keep working harder and longer hours also increases.
My Way Works Best!
One of the reasons many business owners work so many hours is that they actually prefer to do everything themselves.
I get it. I spent the last 4 years building a website from scratch, working on everything from the branding, content, SEO, partners, SM, layout, and all of the incredibly enjoyable administrative aspects.
When you build it, it’s hard to let anyone else touch it. It’s your baby. You know everything about it. You do it best. Which might be true…but it’s just not sustainable in the long run. Especially if you want to grow the company.
This is Where Delegation Comes in
If you’re suffering from burnout and are really struggling to separate your work life from your personal life, delegation is key.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur just starting out, like I was, or you have a long-running family business you’re looking to expand, delegation will maximize your productivity and help keep you sane when deadlines are looming and resources are tight.
Delegating effectively isn’t easy, and many of us refuse to do it unless we’re absolutely forced to. If you’re at breaking point, here are 3 ways to delegate better:
1. Learn to Just Let Go
In The E-Myth, Michael Gerber skillfully demonstrates how stubborn leaders who refuse to delegate often crash and burn.
Even today, small business owners repeat the mistakes of their predecessors, preferring to do everything themselves. They just don’t want to let go.
There are a few reasons for this: sometimes we worry that others aren’t at the same skill level as we are, or maybe we’re just so dedicated that we don’t want anybody disrupting our flow.
You need to learn how to let go.
This should be your number one priority. Delegate the small tasks first, and if it works out, delegate larger tasks. Trust those around you to perform just as productively as you. Have some faith in your employees.
2. Play to Peoples’ Strengths
You’re the leader, so you should already know the strengths and weaknesses of your team. Use this knowledge to assign the right tasks to the right person.
It’s important that you delegate a task to the person with the most relevant skills. The easy route here would be to shift the burden to someone who is kicking their heels and doesn’t have much to do. This is convenient, but it doesn’t work.
3. Be Prepared to Teach New Skills
Maybe you’re lacking someone capable of fulfilling an important task. Instead of giving up and doing it all yourself, don’t be afraid to teach your employees new skills.
Teaching takes time in the short-term, but look at it as a long-term investment. In the future, your employees will be able to take on more and more tasks as you attack.
As you begin to delegate, you will see that it slowly becomes a habit. Make sure that you are forming good habits. Delegation shouldn’t make the person who is on the receiving end feel like you are emptying your waste basket on their head. It’s an art form, where both parties feel they are being useful, learning and working together.
This post was written by Gretchen Shaw. Gretchen is an author, blogger and entrepreneur. You can follow her on Twitter: @shawgret