People only get burned out when they don’t like what they are doing.
Not necessarily. Many of us believe these statements about burnout, but they are not true. Defined as “fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity…”, burnout can happen even in a job that you love.
Small business owners are particularly at risk for burnout. As Alyssa Gregory points out, “Most small business owners think of their businesses as their babies….” Like parents of small children, business owners need to take time away in order to recharge and come back feeling rejuvenated.
We live in a culture where working long hours and giving up nights and weekends is something to be respected. But, for many people, these are unhealthy habits that can negatively impact physical and mental health, relationships, and your work.
How can you tell if you are experiencing burnout? You may be experiencing some of the following symptoms:
- Exhaustion and Fatigue
- Cynical feelings
- Unhealthy habits (eating, sleeping, exercise)
- Feeling ineffective
If you are experiencing these symptoms, don’t ignore them. “Burnout doesn’t go away on its own; rather, it will get worse unless you address the underlying issues causing it.” (MindTools)
It’s easier to prevent burnout than to come out of it, and the way to do that is by….
Scheduling relaxation time
When you run a small business, it is hard to set boundaries. It is hard to ever be “off the clock.” There is no black and white between working and not working; it is all kind of gray. Initially you may not mind working all of the time, but eventually it will catch up to you. Which, is why you should make it a point to add relaxation to your calendar. Whether you use the calendar on your smart phone or you still carry around a hard copy of a day planner, block time out for relaxation, and make it a consistent appointment.
Treat your relaxation time as important as a meeting or other work task, and try to not interrupt it unless absolutely necessary. Go to the gym, go for a walk, get a massage, spend time with friends and family…do something that helps you to feel calm and happy.
We just talked about there being very few boundaries with running a small business, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make them. Have set working hours or work days. If you work from home, if possible, have a designated office or workspace. When you are done working for the day, be done working for the day. Turn off the computer, and put your phone away. You do not need to respond to the email that came in at 3 a.m. or the text about next week’s meeting on Sunday morning.
Healthy sleep and exercise
Unhealthy habits are a sign of burnout, and working on getting back on track health wise can help to improve your mindset. In order to prevent feeling burned out, try going to bed a little earlier or take a nap when you need to. According to Sleep.org, “Naps boost alertness and improve motor performance…” and “Regular, short naps can help lower tension….”
Exercise is a stress reducer, it can improve your mood, and it has physical benefits. Even if you can’t always fit in a long workout at the gym, try just going for walk during your lunch break or incorporating these exercises into your routine at your desk.
Take a Vacation
We have all heard that absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? Well, it’s time to apply that concept to your job. Take some time away. If a Caribbean cruise or a week at an all-inclusive resort isn’t in the cards for you, schedule yourself a “staycation.” It can be hard to let go, but don’t answer emails or business calls during this time. Soak up alone time, time with family, and take the opportunity to rest physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Delegate, delegate, delegate
As we mentioned, for many small business owners, the business is their baby. It can be hard to cut the cord and share some of the responsibility, but building a solid team and being able to delegate tasks can relieve much of the stress and pressure that leads to burnout. It will also make it much simpler for you to schedule time for breaks, relaxation time, and for vacation. Not only that, but it will be easier to unplug while you are away knowing the business is in good hands.
Delegating can also come in the form of outsourcing certain responsibilities such as accounting and HR. Examine your business to see how you can take some of the weight off of your own shoulders.
Preventing burnout is just as important to your business as all of those other tasks that keep you busy all hours of the day. You need to be on top of your game to continue to succeed. Plus, you want to set a healthy example for employees and co-workers. A burned out employee will not help you get the business where you want it to be.
For more information about helping your small business grow, contact Lucid Advisory and Finance.