When you own your own business, it's easy to be pulled in dozens of different directions at the same time. You're the CEO, but also maybe the guy who fixes a clogged toilet or who handles an irate customer.

It's potentially a rewarding situation, but it can also be an exhausting one. Small business owners (SBOs) surveyed by Vistaprint said they are kept busy by a variety of things. These include being "driven by the need to make money (64%), having lots of things to do (56%), and wanting to feel productive (36%)." In many ways, the nature of a small business allows little room for rest because there's always something it feels like you should be doing (even when getting some rest may be what benefits your company the most).

"Being busy has become something of a status symbol and the same seems to be the case for SBOs, who also appear to be acutely aware that there is more work to be done than hours in the day," said business efficiency expert Carson Tate in a press release. "While it's great SBOs are passionate about their work and enjoy feeling busy, they should focus on being productive in the areas that create the most value and help them look more professional, over trying to do everything."

A woman holds a clipboard while talking on the phone.

Business owners can be pulled in a lot of directions. Image source: Getty Images.

What's taking the most time?

Over 7 in 10 (72%) of the 400 small business owners surveyed said that administrative tasks are the biggest drain on their time. That was followed closely by customer service at 70% and project management at 62%.

"Being a Chief Everything Officer isn't sustainable in the long run, as SBOs also need to work on their businesses so they can focus on strategy, developing new products and services and taking them to market," said Vistaprint CEO Trynka Shineman in the press release. "SBOs should identify where they can automate routine tasks, leverage technology to streamline project management and explore how virtual administrative support can save them time."

What can you do?

It's about balance. No matter how important of a role you play in your business, it's just as important to make sure you find time for other things in your life. Over half (58%) of those surveyed said that being busy causes them stress, and 70% said they have skipped meals due to having so much to do. That makes it less than surprising that 46% of SBOs said the amount of work they have to do affects their sleep, and 30% said it hurts their fitness level.

That's not healthy for anyone, and it's important to make relaxing and getting away from the office a part of your schedule. Consider getting out of the office -- whether it be for a walk, a day off, or even a vacation -- as important as any other part of your routine.

To survive as a small business owner, sometimes you have to work smarter, not harder. Get help where you can, delegate, and remember that not every decision has to be 100% perfect. Don't be lax, but let go a little, and make sure you achieve enough of a balance so you have the mental capacity to handle the work decisions that most need your involvement.

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