When I first start working with clients, I ask them how many hours they’re working each day, week or month. “Too many” is the response I usually get.
But, while they feel like they work too much, most of my clients can’t actually quantify in any realistic way the number of hours they regularly work.
If they have a team, they can rarely tell me how many hours of work they consistently have to delegate. They may know how many hours they’re paying for, but they usually don’t know if that’s enough– or far too much– support. They also rarely know if their team members are maxed out, or under utilized.
This makes it very difficult to get any true measure of the actual workload of the business. It also makes it challenging to determine what changes, if any, need to be made to handle the current or future capacity.
So the first thing I have them start doing is tracking their time.
This doesn’t have to be complicated. I recommend Toggl, it’s a free app you can use on your computer or phone to track time. It helps to add some basic categories as well so we can start to get a picture of how that time is distributed. But you don’t have to go crazy here.
It could be as simple as 5 major categories:
- Client work
- CEO time
- Content creation
- Team management
- Basic admin tasks
Then, as you work through your day, add a word or two to each entry as you switch categories. I have a category for Business Development time because I realized I wasn’t considering that “real” work – so it ended up getting done after business hours.
This is a common issue I see with my clients too – especially the ones that have a component of billable time in their business. They often only consider the billable hours as “real” work and so they’ll end up doing a full week of that alone. But then, there’s still all the CEO tasks, team management, and basic admin requirements of running a business to complete. When you add that to a full week of “real” work, you end up with 60+ hour weeks.
I also ask any team members to track their time as well, this allows us to see all the hours being used to run the business, serve clients or customers, and reach revenue goals.
Pro tip: a common roadblock to tracking time occurs when you’re not working efficiently. If you find you have a lot of little 5 min tasks that derail your tracking, consider doing them in chunks. If they all belong to the same client, group them together and do them in one fell swoop. If, instead, they’re all one type of work, consider creating a buffer block one to two times per day to complete them. As you encounter these items, add them to a specific list but don’t tackle them right then. Instead, complete them all during your scheduled buffer block(s).
Why does this even matter?
Once you have an accurate picture of the time you spend on the business each week, you can start to make any necessary changes required to reach your goals.
You can also get a realistic idea of whether you can take additional clients or projects with the current workload. It can also help you evaluate your current level of team support.
If your goal is to work 40 hours per week but the demands of the business require 60+, then you know you need more help. If your team is also maxed out, then you need to consider adding someone new. Alternatively, you may realize that you’re not utilizing your team efficiently when you see that one person is constantly exceeding hours while the others has plenty of available space.
Once you know the true workload, so many things become possible:
- You can know if you have room for more clients or projects.
- You can start to delegate more so you can work less.
- You can stop taking clients when you’re at capacity so no one burns out.
- You can focus on working the number of hours you want to and not just blindly working until midnight every day.
If there is a deficit between the hours you want to work and have to work, you now know what those are and can start to take steps to remedy it.
With a clear picture of workload overall, you and your team will feel more balanced, and your clients will be better served.