The first time I considered how to avoid burnout came when I was a fresh-faced newspaper reporter straight out of journalism school.
Eager to become the next Bob Woodward or Hunter S. Thompson, I hung around the newsroom late into the night, looking for a hot story or sage wisdom from one of the veterans.
The latter came one evening when our salty city desk editor pulled me outside.
“Dude, just go home,” they told me. “Last thing we need around here is another burnout who isn’t worth a damn.”
The advice stung but I took it to heart, limiting my hours, taking days off here and there, and sharing big stories with other reporters. I gained more energy and attention to detail, and kept up my enthusiasm (at least, until newspapers stopped being a thing).
Well, the lede is buried, but here it is: Everyone should think about how to avoid burnout, especially those who have invested in their own life-fulfilling venture, like being a gonzo journalist.
What is burnout?
The first step to knowing how to avoid burnout is understanding what it is. And we aren’t talking about over-binging on a Netflix series until your eyeballs melt.
Burnout is, in fact, a mental health condition defined by the Word Health Organization as, “...a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
According to WHO, there are three main symptoms of burnout:
- Low energy or outright exhaustion
- Feelings of apathy or cynicism toward your job
- Not being able to maintain your A-game
In other words, your own venture ends up kicking your butt for so long that you stop caring and actually start loathing that dream.
Well… that would pretty much suck. Good thing there are strategies for fighting and avoiding burnout. Let’s dig in.
What to do when you're facing burnout
Burnout is no joke. In fact, recent findings indicate as many as 63% of business owners might face it. That’s a significant figure, showing that burnout is a thing anyone can experience — a workplace hazard, if you will, for the entrepreneur.
To help understand how to avoid burnout or check it early, we reached out to leadership and career coach Kathy Caprino. She outlines three primary strategies for business owners to maintain their mental health:
- Find the cause – Rather than lumping everything into one unhappy mess, use a structured approach, like journaling, to identify sources of burnout. It’s very insightful to take your temperature for comparison later on.
- Give 10% more – Increase healthy activities, like rest and relaxation, by 10%, and then reduce unhealthy stimuli, like late hours, by another 10%. This small shift won’t sink your productivity, but can yield big benefits.
- Ask for help – Don’t internalize how you’re feeling. Talking with someone like a counselor or even a friend can yield new strategies and perspectives. A simple Hey, are you okay? can be a real eye-opener.
A word about perfectionistic over-functioning
If you’ve managed to get a venture off the ground, it makes sense you’d want everything just right. However, this can quickly lead to what Kathy terms “perfectionistic over-functioning,” where a business owner can’t prevent themself from executing every role in the operation.
If there’s a short track to burnout, perfectionistic over-functioning is it. Nobody can maintain maximum effort over the long haul. The wise entrepreneur understands their limits and seeks help where it makes sense.
How to avoid burnout
While the above strategies can certainly help get things back to normal, learning how to avoid burnout altogether is an important part of self-care as a professional. As we walk through the ideas below, keep in mind they work together — don’t just pick and choose.
Maintain a schedule
Set regular times for getting up, work hours and going to bed. Also make time for breaks and even – gasp! – vacations. Maintaining a work-life balance can help you control the impulse to work all the time. It also lets you quantify the number of hours you can put into work before you need to turn down projects or look to outsource help.
Outsource what you can
As we’ve touched upon, it’s important to avoid perfectionistic over-functioning. You don’t always need to handle less-skilled or tedious work. With your schedule set, you can evaluate whether a project will require more than the hours you’ve allotted for work. If so, adjust your proposal to include the cost of additional help.
Practice healthy habits
Commit to getting adequate amounts of sleep and exercise. Make sure you’re eating right and maintaining proper hygiene. This might seem like basic stuff, but it’s too easy to ignore these things when you get overwhelmed. Commit to a healthy routine and stick to it – even the most lucrative contract isn’t worth your well-being.
Check your head
There will always be projects you dislike more than others, but make sure that feeling is objective, not evidence of resenting your work. As previously mentioned, it helps to write down your thoughts and seek feedback from others. Enthusiasm and a positive outlook should be the norm – don’t let yourself slide into negativity.
One last thought on avoiding burnout
Now that we’ve talked about how to avoid burnout through your behavior, let’s take a quick look at where technology fits into all this. Imagine, back in the day, how a busy lawyer felt once they switched from a pager to a mobile phone.
Today, plenty of tech gets developed with the everyday entrepreneur in mind. For example, our Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce Stores are built to handle much of the heavy lifting involved with running a website or online store. If you manage clients, definitely give The Hub by GoDaddy Pro a looksee.
Point is, when you combine the right mindset with the right technology, burnout really doesn’t stand a chance. Your life-changing venture is waiting for you. Let’s make this your year.