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Five unexpected ways an assistant can improve your life

Barnaby

Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

5 minute read

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Everyone tells you how you should be spending your time as an entrepreneur: working as much as you possibly can; taking advantage of every networking opportunity; overseeing all aspects of your business. Guess what? All of these answers are wrong.

Extensive research of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, along with the 15,000 entrepreneurs that my company has been lucky enough to work with, has shown me that there’s a few key ways you should be spending your time. If you want to survive, grow and thrive then you need to be doing these things.

The stats don’t lie. 70% of small business owners who don’t do these things - or do them enough - see their businesses fail before they reach their 10th birthday. The top 1% of the world’s entrepreneurs make time for these things because they know how important each is for both their personal and professional success.

But how do they find the time? They get an Assistant (often on day one) and delegate, delegate, delegate. They know an Assistant is vital for success and provides them with the work/life balance that cultivates creativity and boosts focus - two things crucial for achieving more. These people have exactly the same number of hours in the day as you or I but, as covered in my book The Hard Work Myth, you won’t find them working themselves into the ground.

If you realize that you’re not finding the time to do everything after discovering what these key things are on the list below, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Getting an Assistant can help you take back control of your time and tick everything off the list, meaning achieving your goals faster and freeing up more of your time so you can actually enjoy your success!

Family

How much time do you currently spend with your family? Have you missed milestones? Holidays? Anniversaries? Nothing is more important than family and if you’re not giving yours enough time you could be doing a lot of damage.

Reporter Maureen Farrel found that “on average, couples in which one partner is a workaholic divorce at twice the average rate.” That’s a huge amount. And it’s not just your marriage you’re risking.

Spending time with your kids is crucial if you want them to be successful. A number of studies support the idea that children with stronger communication skills - developed through spending time with parents - are more likely to have healthier relationships, higher self-esteem and overall satisfaction in life.

The success you achieve means nothing if you have no one to share it with or the time to enjoy it.

Planning

Planning is a vital part of achieving more without working harder but so many entrepreneurs fail to do it.

You should be spending 2-3 hours every week planning, so you know exactly what you should be working on that will make a difference. A report by software company Geneca shows that “80% of organizations report that they spend at least half their time on rework”.

This is a massive amount of wasted time that will only slow these companies down and edge them nearer to being one of the 50% who fail in their first five years. All of this stress can be avoided, just by spending a few hours each week planning how you’re going to achieve your goals in the coming weeks, months and years.

Action on the right tasks

You should only ever be working on urgent and critical tasks. If you want to work less but achieve more you need to be handing over low-level recurring tasks to your Assistant. It’s these tasks that take up a huge chunk of your time and slow you down. Having a smaller number of tasks to focus on and working in blocks will boost your productivity into the stratosphere.

Did you know it takes an average 23 minutes to recover from a single interruption during your day? By having less, thanks to your Assistant, you’re automatically gaining back hours of time. 90% of the future success and growth of your business hinges on you working on the right tasks, so don’t get get sidetracked and start handing them over!

Learning

You’ve probably heard the phrase “knowledge is power”. It makes sense that the more you know, the better informed you are to make good decisions regarding your business. The fact that one of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffet, also strongly supports this view alone should have you reaching for the nearest educational book or podcast! “The best investment you can make is in yourself,” says Buffet. “The more you learn, the more you earn”.

A lot of people think they don’t have the time to sit down and read a book or listen to a podcast, but if you slot out the time it’s incredibly valuable. It might be a hindrance in the short-term and can seem like a waste of time, but in the long-term it will benefit you massively. Make sure everything you consume helps you learn something new, whether it’s being a better leader or practical ways to help grow your business, and both you and your business will soon see the difference.

Health

“I seriously doubt that I would have been as successful in my career (and happy in my personal life) if I hadn’t always placed importance on my health and fitness,” says Sir Richard Branson.

If you think he’s exaggerating, you just need to look at the statistics surrounding health and success. According to a report by The University College London, the risk of heart disease increases by 67% for people who work long hours compared to people who work the standard 7-8 hours a day. Another report, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, suggests middle-aged workers who clock upwards of 55 hours a week are more likely to have long-term brain damage or dementia. And finally, researchers at the University of Maryland School, reported that demanding work schedules can contribute to obesity. Working long hours does nothing but damage you mentally and physically.

Your health is so important and should be a top priority. Not only does taking care of yourself make you feel great, but it also leads to greater energy and focus that will ultimately help you get ahead.

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About the author

Barnaby
Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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