Feeling stressed, burnt out, maybe doing big hours and starting to experience headaches or shoulder and neck pain? Feeling a sense of dread, frustration or starting to dread going to work or into your business? Glued to your computer screen and/or working huge hours? Getting snappy with people, especially those closest to you, such as a spouse or child? These are just some of the signs and symptoms that you may be on the road to burnout.
Why does this matter? Well, besides the sense of unhappiness, this feeling can be creative, it can cause health issues, ruin relationships and ultimately can be fatal. Sorry, I’m being direct, but if you tackle these challenges sooner, rather than later, you can get back on the right path.
If you’re feeling like you’re on the road to burnout, here are some practical tips to help you:
Firstly, if you’re experiencing pain or headaches see your doctor and/or optometrist.
I’m no doctor and neither is Dr. Google … eliminate other things first (like the need for glasses or a glasses level change) and ensure you’re in good health generally.
Take regular breaks.
Do you have headphones that you can stand up and walk around when on the phone? I do this myself as much as possible. Also, try the ‘Pomodoro Technique’. There’s an app called Forest which you can set to focus for a set period of time. The gurus say focus for 25 minutes is optimum, then have a 5-minute break, then return. No sitting at a desk/computer for hours straight. I’ll bet when you have a headache you cannot focus well … so you’re doing no-one any favours. : )
Mix it up a bit.
Example, one quote, then one sales call (walking/standing) and then next quote. Still working solid. I know this is chopping and changing, but I’ll bet when you get into a system, you’ll get good jumping between these 2 tasks so you remain productive.
Know your body clock.
I’m a morning person, so getting up at 4am is fabulous (and I feel great doing it) and can get more done in that first 3 hours than the whole day. Working at night is hopeless for a morning person. But remember, if you start early, don’t also finish late; don’t burn the candle at both ends.
If you’re doing a task and it’s taking forever (such as typing quotes and you are not a typist) then learn. Having the right tools, including knowledge is essential to doing a great job.
Learn to say ‘no’ or negotiate the situation.
If a client sets an unreasonable deadline, educate them as to why that can’t work and give them an alternative option. If you’re overworked, you might begin saying ‘no’ to new client work or additional jobs. If you’re worried about losing income and you’re flat out, perhaps you need to consider your fees and charges and have a rate increase. I say ‘no’ to telemarketers, to people wanting to educate me about their business (so I can in turn promote them) and even to some charity groups. I cannot help everyone.
For example, when I start a new client, my welcome email clearly says I work Monday to Friday and the hours I work. I’m clear about that upfront so that new clients don’t presume I’ll answer calls late at night or on weekends. Other boundaries might be the type of work you do, or doing work that is ‘out of your wheelhouse’. If you are not experienced, or don’t work with a certain type of client, industry or service, then say ‘no’ and direct them to someone else who can assist them.
Ask for help.
Consider outsourcing tasks, delegating or asking for help. This is NOT a sign of weakness or failure; it’s a sign of a smart person who knows their limits, their value and sees the big picture.
If you’re a business owner, consider if there is room for improvement in the business.
Could apps or great systems and processes actually improve the efficiency of what you’re doing and mean you need to spend less time actually doing tasks? I work with many business coaching clients to improve operational, marketing and financial efficiency which not only improves a business’ bottom line but helps the business owner manage things better.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
If someone gives you a hard time, then recognise that’s on them and is likely their issue, not yours. Let it go.
98% is actually perfectly (excuse the pun) fine.
Become more resilient.
With resilience, you have the ability to grow and thrive when facing challenges. You can bounce back from adversity. When you’re a resilient person you aren’t broken when you face challenging situations. You bounce back from it. Resiliency can be developed and improved.
Look after yourself.
Get good sleep, eat well and don’t rely on drugs, coffee, chocolate, smoking, alcohol or other ‘vices’ which are purely crutches and are not actually supporting your body or feeding it.
Don’t work 7 days a week.
If you’re doing that now, cut back to 6.5, then 6 and then 5.5. You might think that doing this will be counter-productive, but if you, at the same time, begin implementing great time management skills and other strategies, it will become very do-able.
Book in advance holidays and take them!
If you book and pay for them in advance, it’s harder to put off or cancel. Some people book their next holiday on the tail end of the last … keeping the cycle happening. Even a long weekend, built into your diary and organised with friends, means at least the time is booked out, even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going.
Also, are you still doing your exercise?
This may also be partially stress and a great stress reliever is exercise (plus reducing the stress). See my blog on Stress Relief.
Finally, goals are great and so is a great work ethic.
But you don’t have to conquer the world this week. Pace yourself! I say to so many of my super-focused clients that business is a marathon, not a sprint; you don’t want to burn yourself out!
If you’re interested in the stages of burnout and what they look like, there is an excellent article you can check out: Preventing Burnout.
If you are a business owner and recognise you need assistance with your business, or even how you manage your business (such as learning to successfully say no, negotiate and set boundaries) or know you’re doing things the hard or longer way – reach out to me. I work with business owners in all stages of their business and most areas of their business. My area of expertise is providing business coaching to service-based businesses – so whether you’re a tradie, professional, medical practitioner or other service-type business in Australia, I’d love to help. My passion is your potential.