It’s no surprise that entrepreneurs must possess a strong work ethic in order to keep their businesses up and running. As a result, many face long and demanding hours, increased pressure to perform, tough decisions, loneliness; the list goes on.
Unfortunately, many of the challenges faced by entrepreneurs can lead to ‘burnout,’ which Dr. David Ballard, Psy.D. defines as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.”
Luckily, there are several ways to stay proactive and prevent burnout from affecting you and your entrepreneurial journey. From practicing self-care to maximizing productivity, we’ve got you covered.
1. Find what you are passionate about — and pursue it.
If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to become either bored or overwhelmed. It’s much easier to stay focused on a task if you are truly interested and dedicated.
2. Don’t be afraid to take a break every once in a while.
You may think you’re wasting time, but did you know that taking breaks actually boosts productivity in the long run?
According to science writer Ferris Jabr, taking a break “replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.”
Consider the Pomodoro Technique to start incorporating breaks into your daily routine.
3. Surround yourself with supporters.
Positive energy is contagious. Take a hard look at those with which you surround yourself; are you stuck in toxic relationships? Does anyone try to drag you down, or do they lift you up?
It’s okay to be picky about how you spend your time. Surround yourself with people who challenge you in helpful ways, encourage you to keep moving forward, and comfort you during tough times.
4. Improve your sleep habits.
Getting enough quality sleep is one of the most effective ways to avoid burnout. Sleep affects both mind and body, so make it a priority.
You can start to improve your sleep habits by not having caffeine four to six hours before bedtime, turning off bright screens, or practicing meditation.
If you’re having more serious troubles with sleep, try speaking with a professional to figure out any root causes or if you could be struggling from a sleep disorder.
5. Overcome the fear of saying no.
You can’t expect yourself to do it all. You’re not letting people down by saying no. Do yourself a favor, and give your business the time and energy it deserves. You don’t even need to provide an explanation; be polite, yet assertive.
6. Expect, accept, and learn from failure.
Failure is necessary for growth and success. Instead of negatively dwelling on your mistakes, view them as learning opportunities and ways to make you stronger both personally and professionally. As writer Samuel Beckett once stated, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
7. Step out of your social comfort zone.
Did you know that attending entrepreneurial events with like-minded professionals offers several benefits? You’re able to listen to industry experts, share your struggles and successes with others, and gain new perspectives that will help you and your business thrive.
If you’re nervous about attending an event, try starting small by finding local meetups and then working your way up.
8. Go outside and pay special attention to your surroundings.
Being stuck in the same environment for too long can negatively affect your motivation and focus. Don’t be afraid to change up your scenery once in a while.
When you start to feel your productivity levels falling, try going for a five or ten-minute walk; allow yourself to relax and enjoy the nature around you. Reflect on what matters most and return to your work with a renewed sense of focus.
9. Break down difficult projects into manageable tasks.
Complicated, extensive projects can be overwhelming for even the most accomplished and savvy entrepreneur. When we become overwhelmed, this can cause fear, which then can lead to procrastination. Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, take it one step at a time.
For example, let’s say you need to design a website for your business. Instead of designing right away, start by conducting thorough research and finding inspiration through other business websites or designer portfolios. The more information you gather, the more confidence and excitement you’ll gain.
10. Collect your thoughts in a daily journal.
Keeping a journal can deliver a multitude of benefits, especially for busy entrepreneurs. Do you feel like you always have a million thoughts running through your mind all day? It can be therapeutic to get those thoughts down on paper, so you can refocus your mind and energy on maintaining or expanding your business.
You may feel like you don’t have enough time, but five minutes of daily journaling can truly pay off in the long run.
11. Stop comparing yourself to others.
It’s easy to forget that everyone goes through different stages of their lives at different paces. When you see other successful entrepreneurs, keep in mind that they most likely encountered struggles and failures along the way. Instead of letting their success discourage you, let it motivate you.
12. Remember the value of your work.
Entrepreneurship and passion go hand in hand. When you believe in something, you work tirelessly to make it happen. Your enthusiasm inspires others to continue striving for positive change and to follow their own dreams.
13. Unplug for one day.
There are positive aspects to technology; it boosts innovation, offers a way to stay up-to-date with what’s happening around the world, and allows you to more easily connect with others.
However, have you ever heard the phrase, “too much of a good thing?” It’s worthwhile to step away from technology sometimes. You can be more present, and truly focus on your well-being.
14. Ask for help when you need it.
Entrepreneurship can be an extremely solitary endeavor. Never feel ashamed or embarrassed to seek support. Whether you need encouragement from family and friends, or expert advice from established entrepreneurs, there is something valuable to be gained when you ask for help.
15. Establish a morning routine that best fits you.
How you begin your day can determine its entire direction. This doesn’t mean you have to develop the “perfect” morning routine.
Start small by implementing a couple of healthy habits per week. This could be taking time to read a few chapters out of that book collecting dust on your dresser, or making your bed to gain an immediate sense of productivity for the day. Morning routines are diverse; choose one that works for you.
16. Organize your clutter--both physical and digital.
Reduce chaos and regain focus by decluttering both your physical and digital documents. You can start simply by recycling the papers that are no longer useful, and exiting out of the computer tabs that are stalling your productivity.
17. Practice relaxation techniques.
When you’re an entrepreneur, it can be incredibly difficult to quiet all your racing thoughts; however, it’s vital to do so.
Relaxation techniques can be anything from meditation to journaling to reading. Choose what brings you the most peace, and take five minutes out of your day to breathe and slow down.
18. Remind yourself of your worth.
Your business is important. You are important. Knowing your worth and developing self-confidence doesn’t happen overnight. Many struggle with feelings of doubt and insecurity. Remind yourself that you’re not alone, and what you have to offer truly matters.