Starting your own business venture requires a staggering amount of time, energy and dedication. As an entrepreneur, you’re already more prone to burnout than other professionals, due to the entrepreneurial tendency to work to the point of exhaustion to make your venture a successful one. All too often, founders neglect their own needs, shifting them further and further down the list of priorities until they finally become completely burned out. Before burnout takes its toll on your business, learn the reasons why it’s so common and how you can avoid the dangers.
Failure to Delegate – No one knows how to run your business like you do, but that doesn’t mean you have to handle every task on your to-do list. It’s important to delegate some duties, because even the most capable self-starter is allotted the same number of hours in a day as everyone else. You need to use your time and energy dealing with executive tasks, not optimizing mail delivery or making reservations for business meals.
Spending Too Much Time in The Zone – Operating in the zone for a while is great, but when concentration on your professional life becomes tunnel vision, you’re flirting with burnout. You can only operate in full work-mode for so long, then exhaustion begins to creep in and the trouble begins. Even for entrepreneurs juggling a startup venture, work/life balance is vital.
Skipping Meals – Too many founders skip breakfast in favor of getting down to business earlier, work through lunch and then binge on unhealthy convenience foods before collapsing into bed for a few hours. Skipping meals makes you less productive and damages your health all around, leaving you more prone to burnout later. Taking an hour out of your day for a balanced, healthy lunch will not spell disaster for your business. Running yourself into the ground just might, though.
Setting Unrealistic Personal Goals – You may have perfectly reasonable expectations of your staff, but one common trait entrepreneurs tend to share is an unrealistic expectation for themselves. There’s no such thing as an overnight success, but there is such thing as fatigue, discouragement and exhaustion borne of trying to make it big in record time. Make sure your projections are realistic, rather than overly aggressive.
Trouble Maintaining Boundaries – Boundaries aren’t just for your working relationships. You also have to set boundaries for yourself, especially when it comes to “on time” and “off time.” Make, and honor, boundaries regarding time when you won’t be checking email or work-related messages. You need time to recharge when you’re not at work.
Denial – Knowing the causes and signs of impending burnout doesn’t stave off the inevitable. Too often, entrepreneurs make the willful decision to bury their heads in the proverbial sand when it comes to signs of burnout, with intentions of dealing with the situation later. Unfortunately, “later” often comes too late. Watch for the warning signs of burnout, and take steps to regain your equilibrium.
Losing Perspective – When you’re deep in the trenches, solutions to looming issues can be difficult to see. Walking away for an hour, a day or a long weekend can not only help you recharge your batteries to avoid burnout, but can also help you more easily see the solution to a lingering problem in the process. Loss of perspective stemming from laser-focus is just as dangerous as running on an hour of sleep and living on takeout in terms of exhaustion, so take a step back when you feel like yours is growing dim.
Avoiding Work – Slacking off for a few minutes during the day is normal and necessary, but if you’re wasting time just so you can avoid tackling work projects, you’re probably edging towards apathy resulting from burning out. When you catch yourself looking for excuses to procrastinate, it’s a definite sign you need some personal time.
Everything is Irritating – Your trusted assistant seems to have become incompetent overnight. Clients you enjoyed working with are a burden, and no one seems to be able to do anything right. If this sounds familiar, chances are slim that everyone in your professional circle decided collectively to drop the ball. The more likely explanation is that you’ve simply had enough for a while, and need to take some time out for self-care.
You’re Researching Burnout – If you’re looking for a list of signs that you might be suffering from burnout, you’re probably well on your way.
Taking time to unplug from work devices and to focus on yourself, your family and all of your loved ones won’t undo any of your hard work. Don’t allow yourself to become so burned out that you no longer care if your business venture is successful; make self-care and personal time a priority from the beginning. Remember, starting a business isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. You’re in it for the long haul, so you need a long-term plan to see you through the foreseeable future.