All things considered, being an entrepreneur is an extremely challenging thing to say the least. No wonder burnout is a thing in entrepreneurship. There are so many business aspects that must be addressed and reacted accordingly — it is nuts.
There is this image of white rabbit always on the run at breath’s end. It is a kind of cliche that dilutes the morbid reality of being in charge of building a successful company on your back — going through every imaginable challenge and trying to take an advantage of every turn of events — but there is some truth to it. Sometimes, one can really feel like that.
According to Ann Wallaby, Human Resources Manager from TheAppSolutions, burnout is often a result of poor work discipline. Hopefully, there are several practices widely used amongst the most successful entrepreneurs that can help to avoid or minimize the effect of the burnout.
1. Get your mind in the right place
One of the things people often forget about entrepreneurship is that it is all about focus and cautious approach to decision-making. However, these things require extreme level of concentration and be affected by a multitude of fleeting factors. And that is draining — both physically and mentally.
Because of that it makes sense to have a certain kind of disengagement that will let you take a distance from the things going on in order to look at the big picture, consider pros and cons and long term repercussions of this or that decision and ultimately make the right call.
After all — it is all that matters in the end.
2. Set the priorities straight
When you are in the loop — you want to get everything done, visit every possible event and get every conceivable milestone. And you feel like you are going for in and in the same time — nothing really happens because things go at snail’s pace. After a while things get messier and messier and ultimately — you have no idea what is going and things start to fall apart out of nowhere. It is exhausting and can cause a burnout very fast.
How to fix it? At the beginning of every month, every week and every day — pick the most important tasks and events and build your schedule around them. This way you will be much more prepared and ready to rumble.
3. Keep expectations realistic
One of the things that often happens with the fast growing, overachieving startups is more and more unrealistic expectations with each coming turn. Once you hit a stride — there is always a danger of getting over head and then screw up and go out feet forward. You can bite more than you can chew and then — huzzah — things go south. And that can be demoralizing and utterly annoying — which can throw a wrench into the clarity of your reasoning.
Because of that — don’t pretend you and your company are able of superhuman acts and get more just because. Everything is a result of prior actions and it can be calculated precisely when and what is going to happen.
Keep the expectations plausible and goals feasible. Don’t pretend that if you bend over backwards you will get a bonus point and a ticket to the moon. Pick one goal and move to it slowly and steadily.
4. Move in small steps
Moving too fast is often one of the reasons why one can get busted and gassed shortly after and unable to proceed when it is needed. In terms of leading a business — it is almost always the case. It is all simple — if the things go down well, why don’t try to make a leap and become bigger and better with more ambition plan? However, usually it all ends up being a mess.
How to avoid that? Part of the answer is set the priorities straight, the other is move slowly but surely towards the goal. It is important to understand that you can’t do what you can’t do. That might help sometime.
5. Break down your goals
The other element of moving in small steps can be described as “think global — act global”. In terms of management it means — you have one big badabum goal “conquer the world” for example. And then you break it down into a digestible bites that are absolutely realistic to pull off in short span of time.
It is more than just fine task management — it is mindset. If you can train yourself to assess the goal and understand the mechanics behind its realization — then you will have a strategic advantage that can save your day at any given moment.
6. Set boundaries
You know the saying “Anything is possible”. Well — not, not at all — it doesn’t work that way. The only way to get things going and to progress steadily is to keep it within reasonable boundaries.
Why? Because you can’t bite more than you can chew. Sure, you can attempt something out of parts unknown — but it will be one hell of a waste of time and effort on something that will not pay off in any productive way.
Every task must have reasonable time frame, clearly defined set of actions and known consequences.
7. Don’t be One Man Army
One of the foremost things for an entrepreneur to keep in mind is that he is not omnipresent and all-powerful, and he can’t do everything (especially at once). Because if one will attempt to do so — he can burn himself out and be unable to do anything at all afterwards.
While you are leader of the pack — you can’t carry everything on your own. And there is no point to do that. Keep your responsibilities within reasonable boundaries and let the others do their job. That is what the team is for. Clearly defined organization and well-mannered communication can work miracles and save one from needless stress and the menace of subsequent burnout.
8. Shake things up
There is nothing worse than things getting stale and knee-deep into a routine. Why? Because it is a hyperloop towards complete and absolute burnout. It will be ultra-slow and barely noticeable but then it will make one single poke and that will be a finger poke of doom for you.
Because of that it makes sense to make changes in your routines once in a while. It goes even so far as to change color of your background. The other thing that often needs to be reinvented is scheduling. Sometimes it is better to move things around — something for the morning and something for the evening — shuffled and reshuffled.
9. Take a break
While the other eight entry acts more like preventive measure — this one is more of a fail-safe mechanism that must be built-in by default design into every entrepreneurs brain. When things start to go out of hand and seem too much — it is better not to try hard to keep it and take a break.
There are several levels of breaks to undertake. There are daily ones which are necessary to keep it together throughout the working week. Then there are big breaks the often come after important events (milestones, etc).
These breaks can help to restore focus on what is important and blow the garbage out of head. (A night out throwing axes is one example of a solid break.)
10. Say “No”
The best way to avoid going full throttle burnout is to say “no” to things to go beyond your grasp. Sometimes enough is definitely enough and a little bit more can throw you off balance way more than you can bounce off.
Basically, it all boils down to good old Missy Elliot’s “Is it worth it? Let me work it!” — except you say “no” to “Is it worth it?” and go on with your proceedings. Because, aside from very rare exceptions, your current tasks matter more than some vaguely defined gambles.
It is important to note, that these advices are not one size fit all prevention tools for burnout. These are just some practices that can be helpful and may come in handy once in a while. After all — it is all about building your own working flow that will perfect fit you.
Kate is a life coach and small business owner from Austin. She is now working on unorthodox strategies to help her clients achieve their goals. Want to come up with a killer life coach program. Kate is a self-taught data science enthusiast and crypto fan. Also, she enjoys writing about her explorations in the ever-changing world of entrepreneurship.