I was talking with a small business owner the other day who confessed “I feel like I’m working 24/7! Why did I ever go into business for myself?” The dark circles under his eyes were proof enough of that. The guy looked like he hadn’t slept in months.
Leaving the corporate life behind is liberating in theory – but it also means taking on a lot more responsibilities than you had as an employee. That freedom you expected is quickly traded for sneaking in social media before dinner, reviewing spreadsheets in bed and waking up early to catch up on work. It’s no wonder so many small business owners are headed toward major burnout.
I know there’s a lot to get done each day, but the bottom line is that if you don’t find a way to get things done efficiently, without sacrificing your downtime, you’re going to end up exhausted and burnt out.
So what can you do to make sure you fit in all in, without making yourself crazy? Use tools that help you stay productive and save time. When you form new habits, you can get off the fast train to burn out and starting enjoying being your own boss.
1. Schedule regular breaks from work.
Being able to work anytime you want to can quickly become working all of the time. Schedule some daily breaks to unplug, go outside and enjoy life. Create a daily regimen that that allows you to work at the desk for two hours, and when the two hours are up, do something non-work related for 30 minutes. It will give your brain a break, you’ll boost your productivity and make your day more enjoyable.
2. Do administrative tasks, social media check-ins and email tasks at specific times each day.
This is exactly what was plaguing the small business owner I spoke with. He was spending so much time answering email, updating spreadsheets and checking his Facebook page, that his actual work was getting pushed aside. This led to a time crunch at the end of each week as he struggled to get his work done for clients and make up for lost time. There will *always* be email, social media and administrative tasks to deal with. If you try to stay on top of them in the moment, you’ll be making more work for yourself. Set up alarms on your smartphone for two specific times each day where you’ll deal with email and check in with social media. Save your administrative tasks for two times per week – or figure out what you can outsource to virtual assistant.
3. Stop overloading your to do list.
Yes – you have a lot to get done. But that doesn’t mean your daily to-do list should read like War and Peace. If you overload your daily list, you’ll only feel frustrated and unaccomplished at the end of the day. Keep a master to-do list for your projects and work – you can use a small business project management system as a dumping ground for all of your ideas. But your daily to-do list should only include things that you can actually get done in the next 24 hours without an IV drip of caffeine.
You don’t have to be a stressed out zombie in order to succeed as a small business owner. In fact, all of that stress could be hurting your business. Get off the burnout cycle by taking a short break today – and then start using these other tips as soon as possible.
Are you feeling burned out? What have you done lately to stress less and relax more?
About the author:
Lawton Ursrey – Sage One awareness guru and fellow entrepreneur
I have a healthy disrespect for the impossible and a passion for the little details. While I run my own small business, I am also passionate about helping other small business owners. If I’m not running my business, or helping you run yours, then I’m probably playing guitar.