Overcoming burnout as an entrepreneur

Burnout or job-related stress is something that many people come across in their working lives. We spend so many hours in a work-related headspace that this isn’t really a surprising…

Nervous wide-eye Caucasian woman in front of a computer  keyboard

Burnout or job-related stress is something that many people come across in their working lives. We spend so many hours in a work-related headspace that this isn’t really a surprising fact. For many people, the symptoms can creep up on them with limited ability to stop it before it comes to a head.

As an entrepreneur or new business owner, you will know the huge amount of time, effort and headspace that you give to your project. This isn’t a bad thing and entrepreneurs will usually have a lot of stamina as they are working toward something that they own, something that they are passionate about. Even so, those hours invested in the business can easily surpass a regular UK working week (40+) and that is where the cracks will usually begin to show.

Have you ever laid in bed until the early hours of the morning with racing thoughts, centred around work? Or perhaps you’ve avoided certain other responsibilities to make sure that the client gets dealt with?

Burnout can also show through physical signals as well as the psychological that we mentioned above. These signals could include but aren’t limited to; back pain, heartburn, nausea and stomach issues.

But what can a startup owner do to hold out from the burnout, is it inevitable?
If you’ve experienced any of the issues that we’ve mentioned above then it might be time to look at your work situation, listen to your body and see what you can do to repair the situation.

We’ve come up with a few tips that we are calling the three pillars for burnout avoidance. 1. Be smarter about your time

This takes a little bit of organization that tends to put a lot of people off. Often when I find myself getting overwhelmed at work it’s usually because I know that there is a lot that I need to get done but I’m lacking a tangible plan that I can refer to. This means that I’m remembering everything off the top of my head and leaving it all bouncing around. Once it’s written down or typed out I can find a time in the day to get the job done and I don’t have to think about it so much.

One of the ways that you can do this is by setting out your plan first thing in the morning using an app or widget that is easily accessible. I tend to use sticky notes from Windows, but you could yell at Alexa to have her set reminders for you or simply write it out on a notepad. Write down all the important aspects of your day, separate out those items that are business related, home related and other (including appointments, events, social things). If you like you can break this down a bit further and make the important items from the day bold so that you remember. I find that setting an actual time for the goals is a little counter-intuitive as I start to worry about the minute time limits, instead just focus on the truly important jobs that you need to do and get them out of the way first.

Once you have your list make sure that you stick to a schedule. These are put into place at regular workplaces for the very same reason. You usually get a mini-break, a lunch break and then maybe a mini afternoon break. These can really help you reset and be in a good mindset to get stuck into your next bit of work. On the same subject, give yourself a start and end to the day. If you start work at 2pm make sure that you have all important tasks done by 10pm and allow the rest of the time to be solely for you.

2. Make use of your network

Being an entrepreneur can be an isolating experience. As social creatures, we usually require a little bit of social contact to keep us balanced. For some, this could be having a weekly catch up with your friends, away from the workplace, for others, it might include having a family get-together of spending some extra time with your little ones.

Remember that you likely aren’t the only one experiencing a tough time and talking through some of your issues is a fantastic way to release some of that stress and help others do the same. If you have moved to a new area or haven’t found the time to make new friends, then attending networking events or meetups in your town or city would be a great idea. These types of events are easily found through a simple google session or poke around in some of the social media community groups.

3. Remember that you matter!

It’s easy to let things slip when you are in a busy period, for your business to thrive in the long term you need to be healthy and happy.

Think about a long-distance runner, they preserve energy by running at a slower pace than their sprinting counterparts. If you were running a marathon at a sprinting pace it’s likely that you wouldn’t get too far. The same concept stands in business, the work will still be there tomorrow and even though it seems that everything needs to be done right now, it doesn’t. Using the organizational tool can really help with this but there is more to it.
Keeping up with hobbies and interests is a big part of this. Take a couple hours in your week to spend solely on the things that make you truly happy. For me, this is gaming and walking. Shutting your brain off from the things that you HAVE to do and doing the things that you WANT to do is very important. Whether it’s exercise, group sports, creative arts, shopping or simply watching your favourite shows – make sure you carve out time for them.
It’s easier to go into your startup with these three tips in mind than it is to be stuck in and then implement them. If you are thinking about starting a new venture, then make sure that you build in free time into your schedule from the start.

Finally, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take each of the tips and implement them over a period that works for you. Starting out simply by writing a list first thing in the morning would be perfect, then move on to trying to get strict about your cut off times or carving out extra space for the things that you really want to do.

Photos by Roman Kraft, Jessica Arends, Steve Johnson, Krzysztof Niewolny and Cullan Smith on Unsplash.


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