We’ve all had those weeks where we are non-stop working: meeting with clients, trying to get projects done on time, marketing your business…because let’s be honest, anyone who owns their own business knows that it means working extra hours all the time in order to work in your business AND work on it. It takes a lot of time and energy, and it drains us.
It happens to everybody, but for some reason people always think it won’t happen to them. It will. What matters is what you do about it (and how you prevent it from happening often).
Getting burnt out is tough because when you’re burnt out, your work suffers, your body suffers, and you are absolutely exhausted. You’ll notice the symptoms: you might be getting sick a lot, feeling fatigued constantly, foggy mind, no motivation, stress, etc. It’s when you overdo it and work too much, or don’t take care of yourself enough to balance out the amount of work you’re doing. It’s difficult when there’s a lot of work to be done; you feel like you have to keep pushing to get everything done on time.
A lack of motivation can really hurt your business, and add in any sick time you might be taking because of being burnt out, and your business starts to really suffer (especially if you’re a sole proprietor). So, it may seem like all this work needs to be done, but it’s hurting you more to cram it all in without taking proper care of yourself (and your family).
What can you do when you feel run down, you ask? First, turn off the technology. No, not right now. Finish reading the blog first. Take a break. Go for a walk outside, and soak up some Vitamin D. Read a little bit of your favorite book. Take the kids to the park. Whatever it is that you do for you to help you unwind, do it. Right away (unless you have things scheduled with clients, in which case, do those first). You need to get away from the work entirely and give your mind a rest. As soon as you can arrange it, give yourself a couple days in a row off to rest and rejuvenate your body and mind. Take some “me time,” or go on a weekend away with the spouse. Find what works for you. For me, it’s getting outdoors and doing something active.
You have to find your motivation again, and quickly, so stop trying to force it, and take the night off. The next morning, wake up, and immediately get back to it. With a good night’s sleep and a fresh start at it, you’ll be surprised what comes to you and how things change.
Another thing that really helps with “I’m burned out” lack of motivation is going to networking events or reaching out to other business owners you know. It’s amazing what sitting down and talking to another business owner about how they work their businesses will do to give you ideas and help you figure out what works. I find myself so enlightened, motivated, and ready to go home and put all these ideas into motion after I get done talking to other business owners. You know that saying, “Everybody you meet knows something you don’t”? It’s really true, and when it comes to networking, other business owners have experienced things that you haven’t or have knowledge that you don’t that can help motivate you all over again and refresh your state of mind when it comes to your business.
Of course, being able to rebound after you’ve burnt yourself out is one thing, but it’s even better if you can avoid it happening altogether. To do this, you HAVE to take time for yourself and your family and have a work-life balance. That is the most important thing. Feed yourself properly, get exercise (it helps your body and your mind), and spend time doing things you love.
To facilitate this without feeling like you’re neglecting work, you MUST schedule your time. I like using a desk calendar and notebook planner, but some people like Evernote, iCal, Google Calendar, etc. Whichever you prefer, use a calendar, and schedule your time. If you work in the afternoons and evenings, schedule your mornings to do fun things, get active, and schedule family time. Schedule however you need to, and schedule yourself for only 40 hours per week (or 50 hours if necessary), and stop working at the times you have scheduled to stop. No exceptions. You can schedule in some marketing/networking time, but the rest of the time has to be relaxation, fun, and family. No exceptions.
I know, you’re going to have some weeks where this just isn’t possible. There’s a big project that got dropped in your lap, and you have to finish it. Get it done, but then go right back to your regular schedule with scheduled-in time for yourself. I’ve found when I physically block off time on my calendar for rest, fun events, or time with my loved ones, I am much more likely to give myself that time.
Another thing you can do to avoid getting burnt out is to delegate. Many people have trouble delegating because handing over their “baby” is difficult, and they are convinced that another person won’t do as good of a job as they would. The trick is sitting down and determining what you can delegate, and then organizing yourself in a way that makes delegating easy. You can easily hand off certain tasks to professionals who do them for a living, so that you can have more time to do the work in your business that you actually want to do. People who start businesses start them because they have a skill or product that they want to share with consumers. They usually don’t start a business because they want to sell that service or product AND market AND do admin/back office work. It’s a lot, and you have to allow someone else to do some of it. The trick is finding someone who’s reputable, knows what he/she is doing, and has references/a portfolio to show you. You also want to make sure that the person’s values and visions match up with your own so that you’re not constantly running in circles correcting what they’re doing. Tasks that can be delegated easily are social media management, blogging, web design and hosting, copywriting, assistant tasks (admin work, data entry, customer service, e-mail management, etc.), and pretty much any type of marketing. You can delegate pretty much anything, though, if you find the right people. Find out whether a sub-contractor or employee works better for you, and go from there. (For help with delegation or to delegate Virtual Assisting, marketing, or web design tasks to a trusted professional, contact me with Pro-Assist, LLC).
As Lori Greiner very wisely said, “Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.” We don’t want to work 9-5’s or for corporate America, or maybe we just are trying to achieve a dream we’ve always had. Either way, we work too much, and most of us are thinking about ideas even when we’re not working. It’s constant, and I don’t know about all of you, but I find myself often running off to write down ideas or sit down at the computer “really quickly” just to “touch up” a project. It always ends up taking longer than planned, and I get sucked in. Factor in the time it takes to build a website, grow our social media, enhance our content, write blogs, network, and every other type of marketing we do, it’s exhausting. But it’s so worth it, isn’t it?