If you are running your own small business, it can frequently feel like there are just not enough hours in the week. After all, we’ve got many hats to wear, many tasks to accomplish, and limited resources to do it all. Thus, it’s little surprise that the title “small business owner” so often finds itself in the same sentence as “chronically over-worked.”

stressedBut, if you are constantly clocking in over 40 hours a week, then you may want to rethink your workload. Several studies point to the fact that consistently working more than 40 hours a week is just unproductive.

I recently stumbled upon an interesting post over at Salon.com that does a beautiful job of explaining the background behind the tried and true 40 hour work week as well as what has happened in recent years to glorify over-working and ultimately create the perception that more hours equal more productivity. There are a lot of good points in this post, and it’s definitely worth a read.

But, it still leaves small business owners and entrepreneurs with the problem of trying to get everything done in a limited amount of time. Because, let’s be honest here, even with all the nifty technology and tools that are supposed to make our work lives easier, our to-do lists just keep getting bigger and bigger.

Is there any hope?

I think there is. But, there are some tweaks to be made to your work schedule, and though they may seem small, they can really make all the difference.

Get the mindset right. First things first. If you really want to put some real balance back into your life, then you have to recognize the true value of having it- not only in terms of your personal life, but also in terms of your productivity within your business. If you want to accomplish more and do it better, then you have to be running on a full tank of gas, otherwise you’ll just stall out. Once you’ve accepted balance as a priority, you can move forward.

Only go over 40 hours a week in short bursts. One of the findings pointed out in the article mentioned above, is that working over-time for short periods, such as two or three weeks, can and does help to boost productivity. Work levels start to fall in incremental levels, however, as this OT becomes chronic. The take away here is that when you are working on your business, you should try to organize the work or project load in such a way that you are not steaming ahead the whole time. There should be deliberate peaks and valleys in your work cycle.

Take on temporary help. In order to smooth out your productivity without having to strain your personal schedule, one strategy is to bring in temporary help for very defined tasks. You can do this by creating micro-jobs within your business or by temporary hiring a freelance worker.

Bribe yourself. If you happen to be a workaholic, then you need to create situations that will practically force you to take a break from your hectic schedule. If you allow yourself to put in a ton of hours one week, for example, then do it on the condition that the following week you’re going to take off time to spend with family and friends. And, don’t trust yourself to keep to your promises, either. Get others involved to help you stay true to your personal commitments. You’ll be happier… and so will they.

In short, though today there’s a kind of glorification on over-working, it’s an extremely unhealthy way to work or live. By making a few, simple changes to the way you organize your time and to what you make a priority, you can bring back some much needed balance.