Burnout: Your Secret Best Friend (+ What To Do About It)
You’re not sleeping well. Your skin is a mess. You jump at sudden sounds, and you can’t seem to keep your to-do list straight. You can’t get anything done and you feel frazzled all the time.
What is happening? Have you suddenly lost your grip?
Well maybe, but probably not, you might just be burnt out.
For entrepreneurs, burnout is a very real phenomenon. When your business is utterly reliant on your work ethic, any time off feels indulgent and unnecessary. If you’re not working 24 hours a day, you’re not really dedicated, right? I have a really bad habit of opening my laptop and trying to work at every second of the day. It feels like there is always something that has to be done and it has to be done right this second. What makes it even harder to not work at every waking moment is that I actually like what I’m doing.
Unfortunately, we are not robots.
We can’t just keep going at top speed indefinitely or our wellbeing, stability and personal relationships will start to suffer. At some point, we have to close the computers, put down the phones and just span time (thank you Drugstore Cowboys for that awesome phrase.)
So, what exactly is burnout?
Burnout is that secret best friend. She loves you, she’s got your back, but she’s got a weird way of showing it. Your body knows more than you do about what you can handle. Often, our drive and passion can lead us to work well past a reasonable point, and just like toddlers we get overtired. Think of burnout as your gentle, but firm, internal nanny; if you won’t listen to gentle reminders to slow down, she’ll start raising her voice. When you find your health suffering, pay attention!
Once you start feeling symptoms of burnout, like constant fatigue, a steady state of panic and overwhelm, pallid skin and unexpected weight gain or loss, it’s time to slow way down and give yourself the respect you deserve. Put your email on an out-of-office autoreply. Leave your phone on the counter. Whether you need to go for a walk or take a weekend staycation, so what you need to do feel steady on your feet again? Go back to the beginning of what you loved about your entrepreneurial endeavor. Are you still on track, or have you lost sight of the big picture because so many little details keep crowding it out? It happens to the best of us. It’s important to notice what’s going on with yourself, because that inner nanny will keep raising her voice until she’s got your undivided attention.
You can arrange your work and life with a bit more balance and avoid the whole burnout experience if you are kind, gentle and proactive with yourself.
Scheduling is everything, especially when it’s so easy to get pulled into a million directions at once and then end up not accomplishing anything and inching in the direction of complete and total burnout.
Schedule your day, hour by hour. Schedule your breakfast. Schedule your workouts. Schedule your showers. Schedule your breaks. Schedule your...EVERYTHING!
I know that may see a little crazy or type A, but trust me, it’s the way to go. Especially if you’re easily distracted, incredibly busy and multi-passionate like me. For me, scheduling me day helps to keep me on track, which helps me to finish my work and then put my computer away to live my life. It helps me to focus and buckle down so that I don’t end the day overwhelmed with the feeling that I have to keep working all night. I also find that arranging breaks before you absolutely need them goes a long way toward maintaining your ongoing mental and physical health. If I don’t schedule a break, I won’t take it and before you know it I’ve been staring at screen without moving for hours. That seems like the perfect way to get totally and completely burnt out! So find ways to streamline your day-to-day schedule to create more downtime.
You’re in charge of this process, no matter how chaotic it may feel. After all, you’re the boss, right? Work together with your burnout, and recognize it for the powerful feedback mechanism that it is.