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Work Less, Achieve More

Work Less, Achieve More

There’s a belief that in order to achieve success, we need to work for it. While that may well be true, it often leads to an interpretation that it means working long, hard, hours.

To be financially secure, some think tanks suggest that, in the 2020s, an annual household income of around £60k is needed (based on a 2 parent, 2 child dynamic). Whereas other studies suggest, that £60k per working adult is what’s needed to take away the stress and strains that money (or lack of it) brings.

How many hours do you think you’d need to work to earn £60k? In 2024, the average national living wage will be £11.16. That means, to earn £60k on national living wage you’d need to work over 103 hours per week (nearly 15-hrs per day, 7 days a week!)! To earn £60k PA, based on a 40-hr working week, you’re looking at nearly £30 per hour. Suffice to say, financial comfort based on number of hours worked is not smart.

The Pareto Principle tells us that 80% of our achievements come from 20% of our efforts. If taken as fact, that means that for every 5 days worked, only 1 of those days will actually drive us forward. 80% of our time is spent doing “busy work”, that has no real benefit.

It’s this 80% work that leaves us feeling stressed & overwhelmed, with feelings that we can’t cope or we’re incapable. When we’re business owners who work by ourselves, this is one of the reasons we give up, or fail. If we’re business owners with employees, or managers within a business, it’s these emotions that lead to toxic environments that result in low productivity, high churn, etc.

It’s very easy, when you’re a business owner, or senior person within a business, to try to solve these problems by working harder & longer. Sometimes this works, often though it becomes a vicious cycle that eventually leads to extremely difficult circumstances.

What if people in those situations were to take a different approach? The phrase “work smarter, not harder” is often banded around with no real understanding of what it means. It’s not because people aren’t intelligent enough to understand how to work smarter, it’s because they’re so stuck in the middle of stress, that seeing the solution is almost impossible.

The real solution appears when we stop. From an emotional perspective, this feels like a bad decision, but it’s important. When we stop, and take a step backwards, it gives us a broader perspective of what’s going on. It will allow us to see the decisions available to us:

  1. What is essential that we keep on doing (the 20% that gives us 80% of our results)?
  2. What can we delegate?
  3. What can we automate?
  4. What can we outsource?
  5. What can we get rid of completely?

By asking ourselves these questions, we can analyse each answer to determine the how. I.e.:

  1. How do we develop the skills in our team members to delegate this work to?
  2. How do we create the automation?
  3. Who will be best to outsource to?
  4. Do we need to hire someone to take on certain tasks?
  5. What financial options are available to fund these decisions?
  6. What are we doing that just isn’t serving us?

It won’t be easy, but if you’re finding yourself struggling to progress, it’s this type of thinking that will allow you to focus on the 20% that will help you achieve your ambitions.

It doesn’t matter if your goal is to hit a certain income level (revenue or personal income), be promoted to a certain level, or to have more time to spend with the people you love, it’s focussing on the 20% that will ultimately make you successful.

One Degree Training & Coaching Ltd are leadership development specialists for SMEs. We will give your managers the ability to develop teams capable of taking care of the 80%, so you can concentrate on the 20% that will achieve the results that will drive you forward.

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