Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to work less, get promoted, and earn more money all at the same time. And there aren’t necessarily shortcuts to get there. Consider the advice below a menu of options that may or may not work for your specific situation.
1. Learn to Say No and/or Delegate
Whether you’re addicted to doing everything yourself, or if you just have a hard time letting go, successful managers and leaders learn to accept that there are simply not enough hours to do it all. You can effectively increase your hourly pay if you can reduce your workload by delegating tasks to other members of your team. This can help to free up time to enjoy more personal and family activities without decreasing your salary. (Just be careful not to delegate the wrong things.)
2. Learn a Specialized Skill
Sometimes having a specialized, highly desirable skill set can make you more valuable to your employer. Find out what skills are most valuable in your industry and decide whether it’s something you can easily acquire in your spare time or whether your employer will help pay for you to acquire the skill. It could be learning HTML, learning the latest networking technology in the IT sector, or becoming a six-sigma black-belt. Previous employers of mine helped me to learn specific software programs like Adobe InDesign and Photoshop which increased my productivity (and in turn enhanced my worth to the company).
3. Earn a Higher Degree or Qualification
In some job sectors, merely having a certain degree, certificate or specialized training puts you in a higher pay scale. This can be more labor intensive, time consuming, and financially challenging, so be careful about how you navigate the pursuit of more formal education to improve your earning potential. Some employers will help pay for courses that are directly relevant to your current work, so it may be possible to pursue a part-time evening program and not decrease your earnings while you do it. This option is actually more work in the short term, but could have the most benefits over the long term. Many higher management jobs have minimum qualifications of a college degree or even an MBA. If that’s a job you’re aiming for, think about the best way to achieve that given your own circumstances.
4. Telecommute or Change Your Hours
If your employer is unwilling or unable to give you a raise for the incredible amount of work you do, they may be willing to adjust your hours or allow a telecommuting option, depending on the nature of your work. This doesn’t work for many industries, but if you’re in a job where you can complete most of your tasks from home, it may be worth asking if you can have a regular ‘work from home’ day once a week, or twice a month.
Alternatively, if you regularly stay late at the office, say 8 or 9 pm more than two or three times a week, ask if you can come in to the office at 10am or 11am instead of 8am or 9am. Your employer is still getting 40+ hours from you, but it will free up your mornings to have a workout, take the kids to school (if you have them), and do some personal chores. If you’re more productive in the mornings and would rather be home for dinner with your family, the reverse might be an option — suggest you come into the office at 6 or 7am instead of the normal 8 or 9am so you can leave by 3 or 4.
5. Become a Consultant rather than a Full-timer
If you regularly work well above and beyond the 40 hour work week, you might consider whether becoming an hourly consultant to your company makes more sense for you financially. It may not technically be less work, but it will be more flexible — and you can take on additional clients when you need the extra income rather than working 80 hours for the same employer without getting paid overtime.
6. Get a Raise for Work You Are Already Doing
If you’re the type of person that’s able to document significant increases in profit that you’ve brought to your company, or you’ve been doing way more than you were hired to do, you might be able to ask for a raise based on prior performance. If you can’t document significant outcomes (not outputs) that improved the company’s bottom line, consider what you need in order to do so — when your employer knows exactly how valuable you are to the company, it makes more business sense to invest in your personal happiness to keep you around.
7. Increase Your Productivity
If you find yourself repeating certain tasks on a regular basis, spend a portion of your day finding more efficient ways to complete them. For instance, in a previous job I was responsible for maintaining press lists for all the reporters in our research area. When I first became in charge of this task, I manually entered in phone numbers and email addresses for members of the press and would regularly make calls to ensure I still had correct contact information for distributing press releases. Eventually we subscribed to a service that maintained up to date press lists on our behalf. The service wasn’t free, but removing that task from my schedule increased my productivity and allowed me to focus my efforts on more important and valuable aspects of my job. There are thousands of companies out there trying to make you more efficient at your job — so spend some time investigating options for tasks that are repetitive.
8. Change Job
When all else fails and there’s not a way to transition into a healthier work-life balance at your current company, consider finding a new work environment where your skills and experience are more highly valued.
The bottom line is this: If your overworked and underpaid, you’ll head toward burnout quickly. Find a way to create more balance and earn more money for doing less (or the same) amount of work. These are a few tips to get there, but we’re always eager to hear what’s worked and what hasn’t work for your specific situation. Leave a comment below and start the conversation!