I’ve met plenty of entrepreneurs who boast about the number of hours they put into their business, almost as though it’s a badge of honour they proudly wear on their sleeve.
They talk about being part of #TeamNoSleep, as though it’s a competition on who can get by on the least amount possible.
They tell me that if you love what you do, it’s not really work.
They tell me that they’ll work an 80-hour week for themselves to avoid working a 40-hour week for someone else.
I understand the excitement of starting a business. I understand that there are so many things to do and how difficult it can be to fit it all in. I understand how when you’re just about to go to bed, thoughts come pouring into your head and keep you from falling asleep. It happens to me, too.
I’m also guilty of putting in long hours.
In fact, it’s currently 05:22. I woke up 25 minutes ago for the purpose of writing the words you’re now reading. I rose early not because it’s when I feel most creative, but because 2015 has been insanely busy and I’ve struggled to fit everything in.
And so, I’ve met some deadlines by working late into the night and rising very early in the morning.
Yet unlike some other entrepreneurs I know, I’m not proud of this behaviour. It has created a vicious cycle for me – several days of intense work before my body tells me to take a break. Then I lose out on a few hours or even a day during the “normal” working week and have to catch up again with a few more intense days.
eat. sleep. workout. work.
For me, it’s unsustainable. I didn’t go into business to have a life where I don’t really have a life. I didn’t go into business to have a constant feeling of fatigue. And I certainly didn’t go into business to burnout!
The last month has taught me a very important lesson:
If I don’t stop this pattern, it could kill my business.
what is burnout?
Burnout is a serious condition which can negatively affect you and your business.
When you’re fuel tank is running on empty, you lose the ability to be creative. You’ll only be able to focus your brain on the task immediately in front of you. There’s no room for thinking strategically. There is no opportunity to be critical of your decisions. You’ll just keep plowing on, ticking things off your to do list.
Eventually that routine will wear you down. Your motivation will suffer. You may become disproportionately frustrated by simple challenges. You’ll stop performing at your best.
When you’re working for yourself, you won’t have the cushion of support from a larger organisation to see you through. There’s no one else to pick up the slack. If you’re unable to perform in your own business, your business may not make it.
how to stop burnout
The first step to stopping burnout is to be honest with yourself about your behaviour. Are you constantly burning the candle at both ends? Are you nodding your head in agreement when I describe the patterns above?
If yes, try these few tips to stop burnout from stopping you:
1. get organised
Find a way to capture all of the thoughts that are running through your head so that you can stop thinking about them. In a recent session with a client, I helped her group all of her thoughts into themes such as “finance & accounting”, “training”, “online presence”, etc. and then capture all of the required actions and dependencies. She was then able to space out her activities throughout the coming weeks rather than feel as though she had to do it all at once.
2. get more sleep
Sleep is vital for restoring your resources. It can improve your memory and your capacity for creativity, plus it can help you respond better in stressful situations. Set yourself a small goal for the week ahead of getting just 30 more minutes of sleep per night. Perhaps this is as simple as going to bed 15 minutes earlier and waking up 15 minutes later.
3. designate time for things you love
Treat your passions outside of business with the same dedication as those within your business. For me, Thai boxing is something I love doing. No matter how busy I am, I have 3 sacred blocks per week that are immovable. I fit everything else in around that. The exercise makes me feel so much better and these sessions also help to clear my mind. What do you love doing? Block out some time in your calendar to do this activity at least once per week.
While technology can promote productivity, it can also be very invasive. “I’ll just reply to this one email” can easily lead to hours in front of the screen. But, small changes can make a big difference. Set boundaries and don’t let technology take over your life. Turn off notifications so that you’re looking at information on your terms. Go out for a walk and leave your phone at home.
over to you
How have you set boundaries in your business? Leave a comment below and let us know.
ready to take back control?
If you want to learn more tips on how to take control of your business and stop burnout from stopping you, book a free 30 minute consultation with me.