Burnout looks bad on you (but so does not burning at all)
Imagine an entrepreneur, and you might think of a highly successful yet overworked person who rarely sleeps and hustles like a pro. Paradoxically doing it all, yet feeling like there is so much left undone.
Do you feel like this now? Are you setting yourself up for a mental and physical crash? Perhaps you're on the other end of the spectrum, and can't manage to get yourself to do much of anything. Let's get some perspective on both mindsets, and consider a few solutions!
If you're heading toward a burnout, you might identify with some of these:
- Your days are so packed that you miss meals, sleep, socializing, basic hygiene, etc.
- You have to 'just wing it' frequently due to having no time to prepare.
- You have little to no quality control for your work, because it is always going out at the last minute.
- You stay up abnormally late/wake up abnormally early/skip meaningful time to finish work.
- You feel the need to make all of your ideas a reality as soon as possible, and are frustrated that you can't.
If you're not burning at all, these statements might be more familiar:
- You push tasks out until you "feel like it" or absolutely must do them.
- You don't finish things you planned to do, even if you wanted to.
- You do not take action on ideas that excite you, but think of them often.
- You feel that you wasted "so much time" on social media/your phone/doing nothing.
- You don't feel motivated to do (or even dread doing) a project.
I identify most with the second set of statements, which is hard for me to admit. It seems that there is some grace for the entrepreneurs who exhibit the first set, because deep-down they're the most productive, right?
I had to build up some self-confidence to realize that my "type" is not inferior, but that BOTH types (and perhaps we are all somewhere in between) are equally problematic. Nothing comforts you like knowing everyone's in the same sinking boat, right? Working yourself to death, and not working because you already feel dead, are both signs of a flawed approach.
How do we make things better? I outline six options below, and touch on how both "types" may find them useful.
- Create a work schedule. This can be as simple as planning to do 5 specific tasks, or as detailed as creating a highlighted planner with colored sticky flags. The key is to plan what you can actually accomplish, so start small and do an extra task or two if you have the time. Setting regular meetings with clients can help too, as it will remind you that - hey, there are real people depending on me! - and it can reset your focus on what they actually need from you.
- Have designated rest/fun time. Leave your work 100% out of this time! Sneaking in work when you're trying to rest (or defaulting to mindless activities like social media) is like choosing to take a nap on an airplane instead of sleeping in bed for the night. By getting away, you'll have time to build up your clarity and energy to work again.
- Start your day on purpose. As an entrepreneur, you have to self-regulate your day. There is no clocking in and out, no boss, and no dress code, so it's tempting to wear PJs all day. Consider doing something that will consistently get you up and about. I like going to the gym, because it requires me to get just ready enough to leave the house without needing makeup or nice clothes (plus it keeps me in shape). Alternatively, do something that will calm the start of your day (like a devotional or journaling) if you struggle to be still.
- Accept that there is no finish line. If there were a final item to check off the to-do list, your business would be dead. This isn't an excuse to adopt a "there's always tomorrow" mentality, but instead to remind yourself that you are striving for progress, not completion. Treat each day like a balanced diet instead of eating the entire grocery store! You don't have to do everything, you just have to do something.
- Periodically filter your work. Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking we have to do a task indefinitely, which ultimately results in us having an absurd amount of projects! Consider letting go of things that 1) you aren't passion about and 2) don't move your business forward. This doesn't mean ditching the tasks forever, but returning to them once you have the bandwidth and desire to. Don't let this be an excuse to avoid venturing out of your comfort zone!
- Outsource the tasks beyond your skill set or bandwidth. "Outsource" is a scary word for those who want to do it all, or think no one else can do it right. However, you will save time and energy by delegating certain responsibilities to a professional in the field. There is no benefit to crash-learning a program, doing low-quality work yourself, or neglecting what you are skilled at (and passionate about) for the sake of wearing the DIY badge.
I hope these tips inspired you to revamp your routine for a more productive and FUN work week! Follow @alexjanedesigns on Instagram and Facebook for more tips and inspiration.
Until next time!