As someone who owns and operates their own small business, you know exactly what it’s like to take on every role of your company. Not to mention at the same time?!
Oh, you’re the founder?
But you’re also the CEO?
And the marketing director?
And you're the social media manager?
AND the copywriter?
Dios mio… (Pls excuse me, I’m in Peru as I write this, so my brain is thinking in Spanglish lol)
But on a serious note, does this sound like your current business?
When you’re in the beginning phases of any new venture it can feel daunting to look at your never-ending to-do list.
But you don’t want to be on overdrive 24/7.
You don’t want to fry your nervous system (too late???) or work yourself so much that you physically become ill.
What if I told you there were ways for you to prevent burnout before it even starts to happen?
Now I'm not saying you have to spend hundreds of dollars on supplements, fancy health remedies, or an infrared sauna. (Although those are all good things…)
In fact, some of the most practical ways for you to avoid burnout are all within your own capacity. No money. No external resources.
Keep reading on, because it's possible my friend.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how you can avoid burnout as a small business owner, let’s backtrack a little bit and talk about what burnout actually is.
What even is burnout? And how do you “get” it?
This word, “burnout” is becoming another buzzword in the entrepreneurial world.
It’s almost as poppin’ as self-care, abundance, or self-love in spiritual communities. (Not throwing any shade here, these words are all important and there is a time and a place to use each one.)
Burnout, for example, is one of those words that’s become so popular people often don't realize the original meaning of the word.
According to the World Health Organization, burnout is a syndrome that's brought about by chronic workplace stress that hasn't been managed.1
People can experience many different symptoms such as:
Energy depletion or straight up exhaustion
More present feelings of negativism or cynicism (especially relating to the job itself)
A reduction in professional efficacy aka they're getting less done and with poorer quality
To be clear, when I'm talking about burnout throughout this blog, I'm specifically talking in a workplace setting. So now that you have a better idea of what burnout is, let's talk about how to avoid it!
Here’s how to avoid burnout in 5 easy (and cheap or totally free) ways!
Step away from your computer
This sounds like common sense… but not always to the average business owner. When you’re building a business, you’re almost forced to wear all the hats, especially in the beginning.
And sometimes it can feel like do-or-die if you’re not working 24/7 -- trust me -- I used to take my laptop with me everyyyywhere to try to cram in even the smallest amount of work wherever I could.
But what happens is the more time you spend on a project, the more likely you are to become mentally and physically exhausted. When this happens the work you’re producing is actually lesser quality than before.
There are tons of different break/work methods you could try.
I personally like the Pomorodo Technique: work for 25 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break. It's enough time for my brain to get focused work in, plus I feel excited for the breaks and 25 minutes isn't that long to wait.
I also use an app called Forest. You plant trees for the amount of time you need to focus and they grow from seedlings in that time. If you really need some laser attention, they have a mode where if you leave the app (aka distract yourself) you'll kill your tree and it'll stay in your garden, dead. No one wants a dead tree in their garden, even if it's virtual, amirite?
Go OUTSIDE and get some fresh air
It’s no secret that you human body needs oxygen to survive.
You need it in the air you breathe, and in your blood.
But did you also know that your brain actually uses about 3x more oxygen for optimal neuron function than your muscles need??5
It’s also been proven by scientists that when you’re able to step outside and go for a walk, get fresh air or anything to that effect, that you’re actually giving your brain the space it needs to fully retain and rewrite what it is you’ve been working on.1
Something, anything to get yourself out of a building and into nature.
Open a window
Go for a walk
Go for a drive with your windows down
Getting yourself out into nature and in the fresh air, even if it’s a walk around the block for you city folk, has the ability to completely shift your mindset and mood. This inturn increases your ability to focus on whatever task is at hand.
Plus, any excuse to connect back to nature is so important in this technology-ridden world we live in.
AND it costs exactly $0.00 to walk around your neighborhood on your lunch break (or around your office building) and the effects it'll have on your mental health are invaluable.
Move your body several times a day (yes, several)
You and I come from a hunter-gatherer species.
Before you were living in an industrialized city (or having everything you own delivered right to your front door) your ancestors used to follow their food around the planet — walking an average of 8-12 miles per day.3
Nowadays, and certainly at the beginning of 2020, with over 70% of the US workforce forced to work from home, we ain’t walkin’ 8 miles a day. On average in fact, Americans only walk about 2 miles a day… less than ¼ of what our ancestors (and our bodies) are used to.
It doesn't have to be a rigorous lifting session at the gym, or anything super strenuous. Try these simple exercises to get your body out of the chair and moving:
Go for a walk in nature
Turn on YouTube and do a 30-minute HIIT workout
Yoga and stretching
Have a dance party in your house (yes, dance parties of one are always welcome)
Walk up and down your stairs for 10 minutes
The point is: it doesn’t matter how you choose to move your body, all that matter is that you are moving your body on a daily basis.
Learn to say “no” (proudly & loudly!)
Okay… this one might strike a nerve to all of the people pleasers out there, but as a fellow recovering people pleasure this was huge for myself and my business.
As you start your new biz, you’re going to help a ton of people in the process, but you cannot be everything to everyone at every time of the day.
It’s physically impossible (not to mention you'll internally feel like you're dying if you try to).
One might argue that saying no will actually cost you money, but I’m here to tell you otherwise.
In fact, the opposite is true: when you’re able to put boundaries into place to only work on the projects that light your soul on fire, you’ll find that you won’t need to be reaching for that 3 pm cup of coffee (or *insert your current vice*)— instead your internal passion and fire is keeping you energized to complete whatever task is in front of you.
It’s also important to look at your values and mindset throughout this process — are you operating from a mindset of fear/scarcity/lack? Or do you know intuitively that there is enough to go around and you topo will always have an abundance off hat you need?
You don't have to turn a complete 180º and say no to everything.
But start small — where are you putting your energy that is draining you instead of refueling you? The answer might surprise you...
Fill your work day with at least one non-work related task
You started your business so you could have more freedom of some kind: time, financial, location, etc.
So why not incorporate the things that bring you a sense of freedom right from the beginning?
Do you love to make candles? Knit? Crochet?
Personally, I love going for a walk in the woods in the middle of the day, reading, and making candles. With patience and consistent effort, I've been fortunate enough to structure my work day around these things (even if it's during my lunch break).
Incorporating something that boosts your creativity and lets you use your imagination will only ripple into other areas of your life (hello, yes, your biz!).
The bottom line is…
Sometimes you’re going to be on the verge of burnout and that’s okay.
Depending on the season of life you’re in, your business will probably require more of your time and energy than in the past.
But you don’t have to wait until you’re feeling the effects of burnout to do something about this. Use one or more of the 5 ideas listed in this blog to help you incorporate more intention and less hustle into your day.
Wanna learn other holistic ways to manage your business and life? Here's now:
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