When you first start working from home, or first start-up your own business, it can be tempting to work nonstop, around the clock. Although it may appear you’re getting more work done at first glance, the hard truth of the matter is that this almost always results in ‘start-up burnout.’
Start-up burnout is when you reach a point where your work flow decreases dramatically. You feel tired, worn out, restless, and increasingly more bored with your once-exciting job. It happens to every over-enthusiastic entrepreneur at some point, although the ‘time frame’ is never the same. It may happen after a few days, weeks, months… but its going to eventually happen.
If you want to avoid this all-too-common disaster, simply implement the following four steps. Make sure you stick to them throughout your career, or you risk suffering burnout at a later point in time.
Step One: Set A Cut Off Point
Your cut off point could be a specific amount of hours or a specific time frame. Either way works well, as long as you’re setting a realistic amount of hours. Realistically you could work eight to ten hours a day. It is unrealistic to say you will work no more than sixteen hours. As long as you are realistic, it doesn’t matter what your cut off point is, just so long as you have one and stick to it.
Step Two: Take Fifteen Minute Breaks
If you were to go work somewhere else, you’d typically be given a fifteen minute break for every four to six hours you worked. These short breaks help to refuel your mind- literally. Every great once in a while you have to take a break so you can reboot. If you fail to do so, your thinking becomes cluttered and it becomes increasingly more difficult to concentrate. Obviously, you aren’t going to be productive in this stressed-out state of mind.
Step Three: Say ‘No’
It’s great to think you can do everything. For business owners, you may be tempted to take as many tasks on yourself as possible. For those working from home- such as freelancers- you want to make your clients happy to the exclusion of all else. The truth is that you are only one person, and there are only 24 hours in a day- eight of which should be spent sleeping. Once in a while, for the sake of your physical and mental health, you just have to say ‘no’ or you risk overloading your plate.
Step Four: Set Realistic Expectations
Setting your expectations high can help drive you towards bigger and better things, but setting them too high will only set you up for certain failure. Be realistic with the expectations you have for yourself if you want to prevent burnout. This isn’t to say you can’t strive towards being better than you currently are, just that you need to be realistic in what you can achieve in the here and now.
If you want to prevent start-up burnout, the best thing you can do is give yourself a break. Do something fun- something you enjoy. Despite how tempting it might be, you must realize your entire life can not be comprised of work… or you won’t really have any kind of life at all.