Ah, burnout, that dreaded feeling that lurks on the edge of every entrepreneur’s mind. Almost all of us have felt that awful feeling when you're exhausted, unmotivated, and you know you're about to burn out.
If you’ve been in business for more than a year or two, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced burnout, or that you’ve come close. If you’ve been at this for longer, you may have been through burnout several times.
Maybe it’s something entrepreneurs just have to deal with sometimes.
OR maybe we’re doing this all wrong!
Burnout is a sign from our minds and bodies that we’re working too hard and need rest. If we don’t take that rest, our brains and bodies force us to by becoming so exhausted and sick that we couldn’t work if we wanted to.
This is never a good place to be, mainly because you end up spending a lot more (unplanned) time recovering than you would have if you’d rested in the first place!
I’ve learned a thing or two about burnout in the decade or so I’ve been in business, and I want to share my favorite tips for avoiding burnout, staying motivated, and keeping energy high!
7 Things to Do When You're About to Burn Out
1- Schedule time off
This might seem like a “duh” thing, but it’s shocking how many business owners just don’t do this. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of “I’ll just push through this afternoon even though I’m wiped out. I’ll find time to rest,” or “I’ll rest when things slow down.”
Guess what? Time to rest doesn’t just magically appear. We have to make that time, or pay for it later.
Get out your calendar right now, whether you use a paper calendar or planner, a project management program like Teamwork or Trello, or an app on your phone. Schedule an afternoon or even a whole day this month to rest. Pick a day this week if you're feeling especially worn out.
I’m serious. I think you know just how rejuvenating rest can be, but you probably still resist putting it on the calendar. Do yourself a favor and make time right now, and guard it.
2- Arrange your business so that you CAN step away
One of the best parts about my business is that a lot of it can run without me if I need to take a break. I have an amazing team, an awesome project management program, and other systems in place so that I can spend more time with my son or even spend a whole month on Coronado Island, my favorite place in the world, while working minimal hours.
If your business can’t run without you, you’re heading straight towards burnout. Take whatever steps you need so that everything won’t fall apart in case you decide to take a day, a week off, or even a month off.
Need help with that? Let’s chat!
3- Actually rest
Be honest: how many times have you taken a vacation or scheduled time off, and then spent the entire time thinking about your business and checking email?
You probably didn’t experience the rest you’d hoped for, did you?
Trust me, I’ve done this too, and I know there’s a huge difference between “taking a day off” and ACTUALLY taking a day off. I’m talking CHECKING OUT for the day.
You know that day off you just scheduled? I want you to now make a plan to actually rest that day. Let your team know about it in advance. Set up a canned email response to let others know that you’re unavailable during that time and that you’ll get back to them soon. Update your voice mail to reflect your status as well.
Then on that day, don’t check your email. Don’t respond to messages. Hide your phone and your computer if you need to. If it helps, make a plan of something else to do that day like reading a novel, going on a hike, or even vegging out on the couch to watch chick flicks all day.If your business can’t run without you, you’re heading straight towards burnout. Take whatever steps you need so that everything won’t fall apart in case you decide to take time off! Click To Tweet
4- Take breaks throughout the day
Sometimes, it’s fun to work from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. You might be working an exciting project that you just can’t step away from, and that’s great!
That shouldn’t be your everyday routine though. Make sure to take breaks away from your computer, just like you would if you were working in a normal job. Eat your meals away from your desk. Go for a walk. Take a few minutes to get up, stretch, and breathe. Sit outside with the sun on your face for 10 minutes. Your energy levels will thank you.
5- Regularly reassess your role in your business
We know that to grow our businesses, we have to shift from doing to managing. You’ve probably done that already by working with VAs, scheduling your social media content, or even working with a project manager here or there.
But there’s another level to that: In order to grow to the next level, you need to make the shift from managing to envisioning.
Managing is hard work, and sometimes it’s just as draining as actually doing.
Believe it or not, managing is something you can actually outsource too. Think about it: The CEOs of big companies don’t manage; they envision the direction for the business. They think about next steps for the company as a whole. They have directors and executives and managers to handle the actually managing stuff.
You might not be a Fortune 500 company, but you can still learn a lot from this approach. If you’re ready to grow your business without burning out or working more, it might be time for you to step into a new role and bring on an OBM or project manager.
6- Set work boundaries
One of the good things about a 9-5 job is that work usually stays at work (in theory). You don’t start until you get there and when you leave at 5 or so, you’re done for the day.
When we work from our home office, work tends to sneak into our “off work” hours. Yes, you have the freedom of working when you want to, and that might even vary from day to day, but I suggest setting some actual boundaries. For example, maybe no work after 9pm or before 8am, depending on your prime productivity hours. Maybe Sundays (or Mondays or any day that makes sense for you) are completely unplugged. If you must work on the weekends, try to save your favorite tasks for those days, like creating content or coming up with new ideas.
Maintaining boundaries will take a load off your mental energy!
7- Check your mindset
Often, it’s not what we’re DOING that wears us out, it’s what we’re THINKING.
If you’re feeling stressed and know you're about to burn out, take a few minutes to journal or talk to a person or voice recorder app to figure out what’s on your mind. Sometimes just getting your thoughts out is enough for you to spot problematic patterns.
Are you putting too much pressure on yourself? Are you setting unrealistic goals? Are you stuck in old thought patterns that just aren’t working anymore? Think about these questions, talk about them with a colleague or business friend, and see if you might need to make any changes.
If any of this feels out of reach, if you absolutely don't feel like you could step away from your business for rest or vacation, or if you aren't sure how to move from managing to envisioning, I'd love to chat with you about how I can help you let go and grow! You deserve to live your best life, get the rest you need, and be supported by your business. Let's talk about how we can make that possible for you.