Burnout commonly plagues entrepreneurs — especially women — in the beginning stages of starting a business. You’re particularly at risk if you’re starting your business as a side hustle in addition to working a full-time job.
While burnout might be common, that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to it. Handling burnout effectively is the key to maximizing your time and energy so that you can work efficiently and feel good.
How to tell if you’re suffering from burnout
Burnout can exhibit symptoms above and beyond feeling exhausted. You might feel like you don’t enjoy the things you used to, or you can’t find the motivation to do even the smallest tasks.
Not sure if you’re suffering from burnout? See how many of the following statements sound like you:
- You don’t feel like doing anything.
- …not even the things that used to previously excite you.
- Everything feels like a chore.
- You are tired. All. the. Time.
- You’re too spent to even do your favorite activities or hang out with your favorite people.
- You rely on coffee to keep you awake and wine to put you to sleep.
- You go through the motions of your to-do list and don’t really enjoy anything, even things you used to enjoy.
- Even if you hit a goal or milestone, you still feel apathetic.
- You can’t remember the last time you took a break (aside from sleeping at night).
- You just want to lay on the couch and drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes and watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey.*
*insert your favorite guilty pleasure drink and reality show here.
If you checked even one box, you’re likely suffering from burnout. It’s not a badge of honor, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of, either. The important thing is to become aware of its effects, and take remedies to rebalance yourself and get back on track.
Handle burnout, once and for all
Now that you can admit you are exhausted, it’s time to make a change. But change is scary, so you want to make sure you understand *why* you want to tackle your burnout. After all, you likely thought you were getting a lot done by working 12 hour days!
First ask yourself: How is my current condition serving me? What am I missing or not experiencing as a result of burnout? What is my level of exhaustion really telling me about my life and business?
In every feeling, no matter positive or negative, you can gain insights about yourself. You likely felt it was noble and industrious to do *allthethings* but then realized that you can’t do all of them well, and without something else (read: your health) suffering.
Sound familiar? It’s time to regain some perspective, strength, and balance. Here’s how.
Get back on track & reclaim your energy
Use this checklist to handle your burnout and get back on track so that you can go back to doing what you enjoy and enjoying what you do.
- Go through your schedule and see what you can cut. You might have an extensive list of to-dos that aren’t actually must-dos. Ask yourself: How important is this? How likely is it to bring me closer to my goal? Is there something else I can do that would give me better results and be a better use of my time?
- Check your boundaries, especially the the energetic ones. How comfortable are you saying no, even to those you love? If your boundaries could use some work, then this post is for you. Remember, if you don’t manage and protect your boundaries, someone else will. Make this your #1 priority and your life and business will flourish.
- Structure your work day according to you. When you work for someone else, you have limited control over your time. But when you work for ourself, it’s up to you to determine your schedule. Start by noticing your natural optimal times to work. What parts of the day do you feel energetic and focused? What times do you feel sluggish or scattered? Come up with a work schedule that maximizes your most energetic times, and allows for flexibility during the rest.
- Rest, but don’t wallow. If you feel like hiding under the covers, give yourself permission. Make an agreement with yourself that you’ll rest for a certain amount of time, and when you’re back up, you’ll refocus your energy. It can help to write down the first 1-3 things you’ll tackle when you’re back at your desk.
- Ask yourself what you need. If you ask yourself what you need in the middle of a crazed day, the answer will likely be a list of tasks. Instead, get quiet and listen to the voice of your inner guide. Drop into meditation, sit in silence, or go for a walk. When you feel most at peace, ask yourself: What is it that I truly need to feel supported?
- Take care of your physical self. Every day, make sure that you get fresh air, move your body, and drink lots of water. Do what needs to be done to keep your body functioning at an optimal level. Managing your physical energy plays a huge component in successfully handling burnout and staying in good health.
- Decide to pay yourself first with your energy. In other words, fill your own bucket. Make sure you are “full” in terms of sleep, nutrition, and time for yourself before you start giving those precious resources away to others.
- Incorporate regular breaks into your day, at least in 90 minute increments. If you haven’t had a vacation or time off in a while, take an even longer break. Your mind and body require rest in order to feel revitalized, replenished and ready for work again.
- Get real about your priorities. Your to-do list might have 20 things on it, but what is the one thing you absolutely need to accomplish today? Defining your one thing works in two ways: It forces you to name your top priority, and when you achieve said priority, you feel accomplished. Keep repeating the cycle once your one thing is complete.
- Seek professional help. If you’ve tried all of the above and still feel burned out, I recommend you see a medical health professional. It’s possible you have a nutritional or hormonal imbalance, or have external stressors that you haven’t even realized.
Working for yourself — creative work in particular — can be exhausting, draining, demanding, and simply take a lot out of us.
For this reason, it’s super important that you handle burnout when it arises. Identify remedies and practices for preventing it in the first place. That way you can stay on top of your game and do your best work, while feeling calm, energized, and focused.
Want to check out more posts in the Solopreneur Series? Click here.