Dealing with business burnout involves facing hidden habits we may not even be aware we have … and getting to the cause of them. It also involves reassessing where we are in our business lives, if that is still working for us, and what needs to change.
In the end, each entrepreneur’s ideal recipe for reducing stress and ending burnout is different. These twenty-one ideas are here to help you pick and choose the right tips for you.
- Stop the Hurry Before You Start
Many entrepreneurs rush into the day’s business activities without pausing for breath. This doesn’t just mean eating a healthy breakfast and meditating. It also applies when you sit down at your desk and begin to work.
Take the first 15-30 minutes to plan your day. Clean up your desktop, close unnecessary browser tabs, if you have left them open. Check your To-Do list. Determine your priorities. Turn on any productivity apps you are using… then go.
- Remove Clutter and Distractions
Clutter can be confusing and distracting. Clean off your desk; either at night or first thing before you start work (whichever feels better to you).
Donate or toss any item on your desktop and in your home office that doesn’t give you pleasure or inspiration, or is not useful. Consider also donating or tossing any items, books or office supplies that you haven’t used for the last six months.
- De-Clutter Your Browser
Time to take a look at all those bookmarks! Delete any that no longer serve a purpose and create more appropriate folders, if you need to.
Remove apps and extensions you aren’t using. They are only slowing your computer down.
- Prepare for Unforeseen Interruptions
Don’t schedule every last minute of the day: Leave a block of time for the unexpected—that project that’s taking a little longer; the webinar that runs overtime (but it’s really valuable!); picking your sick child up at school; chatting to a business client or contact that you really need to speak to.
If you don’t use up your “spillover” time, use it to finish work early, or take an unscheduled Yoga break!
- Leave Room for Your Social Life
Make sure you have a healthy, active social life—even if you have to structure it. Join that weekly book club. Arrange to meet your BFF for coffee every Friday at 10 a.m. Volunteer one night a week at your PTA or a cause that’s dear to your heart—and be prepared to say “No” when they want more time!
- Remove Time Drains
Track your time for a week. Where do you lose productivity? Is there any pay-off to the activity where you’re not “productive”? Is there a fix you can apply? (For example, dropping a task, outsourcing it, using different software or apps, changing the time of day when you tackle it?)
- Find What Energizes You
Burnout and stress both melt away when you find what it is about your business that truly energizes you. Once you’ve identified these areas or activities, get rid of the rest—automate, delegate or outsource—and spend more time on the parts of your business that you love.
- Take Adequate Time Off
Ask your body, “How many breaks in a day do you need? How many vacations per year? How long should each vacation be?”
Entrepreneurs tend to skimp, even when they do take breaks or vacations. Decide what works better for you—a long three-week vacation, or three separate weeks off, spaced out at intervals? Two half-hour breaks or four 15-minute ones?
Resist the urge to skimp. Build breaks and down time into every day.
- Don’t Over-Commit
Don’t promise to have something done if you know you’re going to have to stay up all night for a week to finish it. First decide how long, realistically, any project should take: Then add at least an extra day on it (more if it’s a big project; even more if you have other team members involved).
And don’t take on anything that cuts into your non-negotiable self-care time. Look for alternative solutions to suggest, or spread the work out over your team.
The same goes for your personal commitments too. Remember, those who ask you will ALWAYS find someone else, if you aren’t available to do something.
- Get to Know Yourself
Sit down and really think about who you are. What drives you? What are your values? Dreams? Goals? What are your habits? What do you find hard to do and what do you find easy?
Take self-assessment quizzes. Take the time read self-help books. And most of all, face your flaws head-on, with objectivity and without judgment.
- Get a Coach!
A wise coach has her own coach or coaches. Find one who can help you with self-assessment—who can help you see your own blind spots and be an accountability partner to you.
- Keep a Running Journal
It doesn’t have to be pretty; it doesn’t have to be profound. It can even just be a Word file that you add to, every day.
Open your journal or journal file every morning, and date it. Jot down notes—even quick bullet point ones—of key things you did or didn’t do that day. Record useful URLs and list helpful resource people. You’ll be amazed how handy that journal comes in, when you look back over it at the end of every month.
- Resist the Urge to Compare
Don’t waste your time being envious of or crushed by others’ successes. Celebrate them instead! You have your own talents and specialties; your own unique style. You’ll be at that stage of the journey too, one day. Your time will come.
Particularly if you don’t waste it by beating yourself up because you’re not as good as X.
- Batch Your Tasks
Try doing similar tasks all in one go: For example, content creation in the morning, phone calls from 2-3 p.m.
You might be surprised to discover that doing similar tasks in one go gets them over with much more efficiently—and less stressfully.
- Get To-Dos Out of Your Head
Use easy To-Do apps like Remember the Milk.
- Focus on Your Goal
When you complete a task, or finish a morning or stop for a break, check in with yourself. Ask yourself how much closer you are to finishing your goal.
Give yourself positive self-talk every time you take even one step closer.
(And do try out DropTask—it’s a wonderful way to track and handle your tasks, because it gives you an overview and shows you completed goals. Plus, it helps you see both the Big Picture and its component parts—all in one place.)
- Change Your Desk Photographs Regularly
Put photographs of people, places or pets on your desk—ones that remind you how lucky you are, or that you’re loved; or that remind you of a goal or dream.
Rotate them regularly—otherwise, you become “blind” and stop seeing the beautiful memories, pictures and dreams you’ve chosen for inspiration.
- Find a Thankfulness Partner
Sit down either in person or at your computer every day, and exchange three things you are thankful for with a Thankfulness partner. You’ll reinforce each other’s good feelings—and inspire each other too.
- Be Proactive
Take charge of your surroundings. Leave ten minutes early to allow for travel hitches. Pack serotonin and dopamine-boosting snacks like yogurt, apples or protein bars when you’re going to be traveling for more than an hour. If you’re always forgetting to take necessary medication, get your pharmacist to package these in weekly bubble packs, so you can see exactly when you last took a dose. If something breaks, and you can fix it in under ten minutes, fix it right away.
Look for the “third alternative”. If you feel stuck between choice A and choice B, look around to figure out a different choice altogether.
If someone is driving you up the wall, respectfully let them know what’s bugging you—and see if the two of you can brainstorm a solution.
Get into the habit of “can do”—and say goodbye to avoidance and procrastination.
- Get the Best!
If you’re endlessly fighting with a recalcitrant computer, stop wasting your time. Get a faster, better one. If you’re going to buy a new outfit, don’t buy three cheap ones: Buy one beautifully tailored one. Don’t suffer in shoes that pinch—get fitted properly and buy a quality brand.
It doesn’t matter if it’s life or business: Invest in the best—and you’ll soon feel like you’re worth it!
- Realize that Work Never Ends
The most counter-productive thing you can do is beat yourself up for not getting everything on your To-Do list done. Life happens. Things take longer than you think. You get interrupted with emergencies. You run into computer problems.
Just focus on your top three priorities for the day—and table what isn’t done at the end of the day for tomorrow (or farm it out!)
Finally, remember that burnout happens for a reason. It can be your friend, if you don’t ignore it. People who have dealt with stress and burnout have stopped wasting time in jobs or relationships that made them unhappy. Burnout can be a signal that it’s time … to take charge now and create the stress-free, happy life—and business—you’ve always wanted.