Yep, we entrepreneurs have bandwidth–it’s not just for your internet connection! This is why we need to learn how to manage our energy apart from just our time. Now, it’s not exactly a new idea, but people often tend to forget it. Solopreneurs are especially prone to this as they try to fit more things into their tight schedules or work longer and longer and longer hours.
But do you believe that only when you give yourself the space for renewal can your business truly grow? It’s not even a matter of belief, in fact. Yes, I’m sure you already know this, but it’s also understandable if you still tend to forget this in your daily actions. Deep down, it’s actually counter-intuitive precisely because we live in a culture where more is often seen as better and something you should always strive for. And you could also be thinking in linear terms where more effort means more results 100% of the time.
In reality, things are rarely linear, and our energy levels differ every day. Life gets in the way–we’re human. If you think work is manageable now, it might not be as soon as an unforeseen event tips the scales. When that happens, it can be difficult to get back on track.
Not managing your energy can ruin your attempts at time management because our capacities are not the same on any given day.
When you try to fit more into your schedule or work longer hours, it usually works in the short term. You tend to ride on the high of self-confidence as things seem to be finally under your control. This is, of course, a chance to improve your skills and rely on yourself like never before. You are always leveling up! Until…
Your plans to be very productive one day fall apart when something unexpected happens, or maybe you just can’t concentrate as well as you had in previous days. Had a late night? You’re automatically slower the ENTIRE next day, even if you’ve had your coffee. You may not notice it right away, but its effects are incremental, especially if this goes on for several days, weeks, and months. If you’ve attempted to fit everything tightly into your schedule, this could even cause a domino effect and it can be hard to get back on track.
This is how it looks once you’ve used up all the bandwidth.
We’re all given the same amount of time. This gives us a chance to create a consistent routine that we can learn to do almost automatically. But we’re human, and life gets in the way most times. So how do we deal with these irregularities?
We do it by creating enough space.
So, how does making space improve productivity?
Creating space does two things:
- You replenish your physical and mental energy regularly so that all efforts are evenly spaced out. Imagine the fact that you WON’T run out of gasoline in the middle of the road where you’d have to wait for a truck to tow it out of the way!
- You make room for the “irregularities” we experience with our personal bandwidth as human beings.
That second part, I will illustrate using the spoon theory. Each person starts their day with a certain amount of spoons. Every activity you do uses up a certain amount of spoons. At some point you run out of spoons. But how much you start with and how many each activity uses up depends on the person/day/activity.
The Ghosh Center says, “Sometimes you have a surplus of spoons, but it’s no guarantee they’ll carry over to the next day.” Even simple things like a shower or getting out of bed can be taxing for an individual on their worst days, but on other days they can get a super difficult thing done very easily.
ALL aspects of your being human need to be accounted for. Make sure to be mindful of your spoons and always make space for self-care and renewal. When you see things this way, you can be more realistic about what you can or can’t handle. You’d also be able to determine where you need help and how much help you need. You can try to identify the areas that use up the most spoons and the areas that will give you immediate relief once you outsource them.
Procrastination is one of the signals to start outsourcing.
Judy Cohan says, “Oftentimes, but certainly not always, we put things off because we don’t have the resources, knowledge or skills to do them well.”
Needless to say, procrastinating is dangerous. It doesn’t always have immediate consequences, but it depletes your spoons. As soon as an unforeseen event tips the scales, you may not have enough spoons left to get back on track.
Another huge spoon-depleter is multi-tasking. “Neuroscientists say multitasking literally drains the energy reserves of your brain.” That’s literally the whole title of an article by Quartz. The reason for this is because it takes up more energy to stop a task and then start a new task when you’ve previously already built up some momentum. And you know how momentum kind of feels like “gliding,” like there is an ease to what you’re doing? Well, that ease is literally telling you that you are using up less energy!
This is also why virtual assistants are a HUGE help. They let you be more focused on the few tasks that matter most to your business. No more brain drain!
Virtual assistants can also help offset these “irregularities” we were just talking about, as well as help you avoid most work-related emergencies.
Virtual assistants help you increase your bandwidth, which in turn helps you become a better leader.
I’ve had some victories relating to this… I’d like to share them with you, hopefully so you can feel inspired!
I’ve noticed two things that happen when you hire a VA:
- You get some immediate benefits, such as an increase in energy levels, and more room to focus on the higher-level tasks that fill your soul.
- You get some long-term benefits as well. Your extra bandwidth makes you a better leader, which makes it easier for you to restructure your business and create automated systems that make everything work SO much better. And yes, that means more bandwidth again. What a lovely cycle!
The magic of having VAs is that they lift off weights so you all (you, your team, your business) can rise.
I’ll give some examples for both. Now, this may be dorky, but my bookkeeping tasks used to keep me up at night. Even though I know how to do it myself, bookkeeping is definitely not my strong suit. When Dinah started to help me accomplish those tasks even better than I can do myself, I was ecstatic. In fact, I was giddy.
In a more general sense, having assistants allowed me to experience the magic of waking up and having things be done on our team’s task board. If you don’t know how that feels, I’m telling you, it feels phenomenal! If that’s not enough to get you on board, also read Why You Need to Delegate.
Once I’ve been able to do more self-care, I’ve also become a more effective leader. I’ve had my team help me grow my business. Together, we’ve created better systems that made it easier for us to perform at our best. We’ve also restructured the business so that we were very specific in what we offer. This in turn helped us provide more value to our clients, creating more wins for our team and the business overall.
Let’s be mindful of our personal bandwidth so we can provide more value to our clients.
I mean, shouldn’t that be the bottom line of having any type of business?
Let’s make it our daily mission so we can all go forward as a community.
All my love and support,