Any professional can experience burnout, and it can come from a variety of causes: a stressful workload, an overbearing supervisor, a lack of passion for the required duties.
Entrepreneurs are no exception. “Most work very hard, probably too hard,” writes Steve Strauss in a USA Today article. “On a daily basis, a small business owner usually has a ton of tasks to complete. More broadly, statistics show that small business owners take less vacation time than other workers. Simply put, it is easier to take time off when that is built into your job description and you will get that paycheck deposited while you are gone.”
So, how can a small business owner keep things interesting and avoid burnout? Here are a few tips.
If your sights are set too high, setbacks are inevitable. Be realistic in your analysis. As Jayson Demers writes in an article for entrepreneur.com, “Fatigue tends to happen when working for too long without satisfactory results, and disappointment tends to happen when reality falls short of your hopes. Both are products of setting lofty or unrealistic expectations for yourself. For example, if you tell yourself your product must launch by the end of the month (when three months is more reasonable), you could burn yourself out rushing to get things done. If you tell yourself you’ll be wildly successful within the first year (when three years is more reasonable), you’ll feel burned out when your goal isn’t met despite your hard work. The solution is to set more conservative expectations for yourself and your business, in terms of your goals, hopes, daily tasks and everything in between.”
Examine your habits.
There may be simple steps you take each day that could be in need of a change, if for no other reason than to shake up the daily grind.
“Burnout occurs for many reasons, but one is that you simply have fallen into some habits,” writes Strauss. “Habits in and of themselves, of course, are not necessarily bad, unless they cause you to become robotic and to stop thinking. Work habits you might change include how you get to work (Could you use public transit, or ride your bike or walk?) and your daily schedule.”
Rewind to when you started.
When things seem bleak, your initial ambitions may be far from your mind. But taking a moment to remind yourself of those desires and efforts may provide a spark to refocus and re-energize.
“Remembering those reasons can be just what you need to push through the more difficult times you’ll face throughout your journey,” writes Demers. “For example, if you became an entrepreneur for the flexible schedule, take a few days to experiment with your hours and experience the luxury of an open schedule. If you became an entrepreneur because you wanted to make your own decisions, make small, yet significant decisions you wouldn’t be able to make elsewhere — such as redecorating your office or letting everyone go home early for the day.”
Dive into a project.
Consider the things you enjoy most in your workload, and if those elements could be part of a new campaign. Or try something you haven’t before, which could provide a lift and a bit of motivation.
“Doing the same thing again and again is another main cause for work burnout, so it only make sense that doing something different can be an elixir,” writes Strauss. “By stretching your abilities and doing something new, you will be forced to learn something new and do things in a new and different way.”