Pop Quiz: Are you feeling a little snappy (or a lot) with friends, family, and (ack!) even clients? Are you exhausted every day? Do you feel like you’re running in circles for hours, but aren’t getting anything done? If you answered yes to these, you’re probably suffering from business burnout. A Gallup Survey says that 45% of people who own small businesses like ours say that they are very stressed, and that’s 3 points higher than any other profession – including police officers and fire fighters. Whoa.
When you’re an entrepreneur – or even a solo-preneur – this can cause huge issues in your personal and professional lives. If you’re in a creative business like interior design it’s even more of a problem because studies show that creatives lose motivation quickly if they are worried or burned out. That can put you into a tailspinning emotional cycle of worrying about business, then losing motivation, then stumbling in your business, which causes more worry, and on and on.
So what can you do? First, recognize the signs. If you’re burned out, you’re going to be exhausted, not just tired. You’ll feel negative about everything, and you’ll feel like you’ve lost your passion for your business. You’ll probably have trouble sleeping and getting anything done, and you’re probably not in a great mood. And the worst part is, you won’t be able to turn off your brain as it worries and worries and worries. Yep, that’s burnout.
Here’s what you need to do, even if you feel like some of what I’m going to suggest is counterintuitive: You’ve got to stop everything. One hour. One day. One weekend. Give yourself some time to stop the madness. If you’re worried about how your business might survive, you’re probably saying “yes” to everything, including a lot of things you should say “no” to. Don’t let fear drive your decision making. That is only going to add more stress and pain later.
You need to delegate more. And yes, I can hear you saying that you can’t afford it. But really, you can’t afford NOT to delegate or outsource. You can’t do everything – it’s impossible. So even if it’s just handing your invoicing off to an accountant, or having an intern run errands, you need to get some help. And take it a step further and just eliminate a lot of things altogether. Be honest about what really can go, because I know there are a LOT of things on that list that you and your business will survive without doing or delegating.
Then you need to get a time management system in place. I’ve talked about this a lot in this blog – it’s critical that you get yourself organized, and use your time very effectively. And lately I have been realizing that it’s not just time management but energy management that is key. So as you plan your schedule, do your most important and profitable things first BEFORE you get tired and stressed each day.
Are you seeing a pattern yet? I’ve just given you three ways to get things off of your plate to give you the space and time to take that hour, day, weekend, or (even better) a week to stop and get your energy back. It’s impossible to feel passionate and excited when you’re actually mad and resentful of your business. You will never be at your very best if you’re exhausted, unhealthy, and depressed. That’s a fact.
Running a business is hard work. Really hard work. It’s almost like running a marathon, and you would never do that without being sure that you’re in the best health you can be, would you? No. You have to have your head in the right place, too. You won’t be able to think strategically or to plot a great course for your company when you’re tired and stressed.
I want you to put that phone down, shut down your computer, and go outside and play. Literally, if that’s what you like to do. Go breathe some fresh air, or go to a museum and enjoy the gorgeous art, or go have a glass of wine with friends and laugh. Or be calm and read a book or get a massage. Whatever your heart desires!
Even if you imagine the very worst thing that could happen in your business, it really isn’t that bad. Some of the most famous and respected people in business have failed miserably – sometimes over and over. Face that fear and then let it go. The world won’t end if you allow yourself to step off the hamster wheel and have a day off to deal with your burnout. After all, you started your business in the first place to allow you to live the way you want to. But you aren’t really living if you’re nose-to-the-grindstone 24/7 every single week of the year, are you?
Be kind to yourself! You’re doing the best job you can do with the tools you have today, and that’s huge. Recognize that and give yourself permission to take care of yourself. Ask for help if you need it, get some exercise, rest and recharge. It’s really worth it to take that time.
Now I’m going to take my own advice. This week I am taking a little “stay-cation.” I’m getting my family and our things organized before we move back in our home soon, I’m relaxing a bit to keep burnout at bay, and I’m having some spring break play dates with my daughter right here in our own town…fun!
So until next time, xo,