On a day-to-day basis, managing your business can feel like a volunteer firefighter in a wildfire. One fire pops up out of nowhere, and before you know it, you are taking care of one problem after the next with little to no appreciation. Yet, despite the demands of these daily issues, you still have a business to run effectively. If the union of these two factors seems like a recipe for burnout, you’re not mistaken. Consider the words of former professional tennis player Robin Soderling, “I was the perfect person to have a burnout because I was not listening to my body at all.”
Author and illustrator Jonny Sun had his own thoughts on the topic of burning out, “Burnout is so hard to get out of because when you’re in it, you ask yourself, ‘What can I do to bring me relief from all this pressure and stress of all this work I need to do?’ And the only answer you can think of is, ‘The only thing that will bring me relief is if I finish this work.’”
You would probably prefer to steer clear of anything to do with burnout, but it sometimes seems like the more one steers toward success, the closer one inches towards burning out. How can you navigate this balancing act?
Better yet, how can you decrease burnout while still managing your business effectively? We put together a lineup of well-versed businesspeople to answer this question for you.
Get Some Exercise
This first point may strike you as odd—how will exercise help decrease burnout and manage your business effectively? It starts with personal well-being. Picture exercise as part of a larger balancing act that centers on your personal well-being. Balance can’t happen if you focus on one aspect and leave the others behind.
“Being physically active has so many positive benefits that it’s a wonder why so many people skip their daily workout or walk,” says Matt Masiello, Chief Marketing Officer of Baby Buddha. “Just the inspiration from increased blood flow to the brain should be enough for you to want to get your feet moving.”
Additionally, regular exercise can help create physical and mental resilience, allowing you to maintain higher levels of energy throughout the day. It’s worth the time it takes to head out to the gym.
Plan Out Your Days
Consider how you spend your working time on an hour-by-hour basis. Are there any elements that seem disjointed? Do you find yourself searching for your next task? If so, it’s probably time to introduce more structure to your days.
“Creating a schedule might not feel like a natural process to everyone, but if you can incorporate one into your professional life, it will serve you well,” says Ann McFerran, CEO of Glamnetic. “For one, it prepares your mind for the day ahead. It also keeps you from creating needless stress due to missing an appointment or meeting, and it keeps you on task so you can get your work done more efficiently.”
There are numerous methods for creating a schedule—you might be a digital calendar person, or you might prefer a pen and a notepad! So long as it helps you stay organized and on track, you are doing well.
Ask for Help When Needed
Occasionally, you will meet your match in business management. Maybe it’s a problem with a supplier, or perhaps you have too many items on your to-do list this week. Either way, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help when needed.
“The best companies in the world were not built from one person’s work alone. Teamwork and transparency got them where they are today,” says Miles Beckett, CEO and Co-founder of Flossy. “It’s more than ok to admit that you don’t understand something or that you need help with a task.’”
Innovation and new opportunities often come out of teamwork. But more importantly, teamwork relieves you from trying to carry the workload yourself, thus helping prevent burnout.
When running a business, you may feel like your only option is to go big or go home. That’s what launching a business in the first place feels like. But remember that progress and success in highly competitive areas will always be hard to come by—or at the very least, remember that they take time.
“Large-scale dreams are a wonderful thing in business if they are supported by enough evidence,” says Brianna Bitton, Co-Founder of O POSITIV. “The goals you set for your company should start in your imagination, but then you need to back them up with research to ensure they’re realistic and achievable.”
Demographics, product interest, interest rates, and more contribute to the business landscape. Be certain you are fully informed on these factors as they affect your business’s ability to plan realistically.
Delegate What You Can
In the early stages of your business, progress of any kind probably happened due to your efforts and nothing more. But at what cost? Do you recall how tired it made you at times? Have you learned to let go of tasks that no longer require your specific attention?
“Despite what your brain wants you to think, there’s nothing noble about overloading your work plate,” says Bradley Hall, CEO of SONU Sleep. “Giving subordinates more responsibility can help your mental health, and it can help your employees develop new skills.”
Deciding what to delegate and what to hold on to can be tricky, so start by evaluating the skillsets of your employees. This way, you can give appropriate responsibilities to talented and eager employees and help them grow along the way.
Guard Your Sleep
Burnout is a physical symptom of stress overload. Therefore, it stands to reason that stress management tools can help decrease burnout. One essential part of combatting stress and burnout is ensuring you get enough sleep each and every night.
“Many business owners feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all they need to,” says Susan Kim Shaffer, President and Co-Founder of Pneuma Nitric Oxide. “Some people are willing to sacrifice sleep to counter this, but doing so will only speed up their burnout.”
Instead of sacrificing sleep to work more, take an aggressive approach to guarding your sleep. Don’t let anything come between you and your chance to recharge physically and mentally. Make sure you’re turning off your work notifications at a reasonable hour and hopping into bed for some much-needed shuteye.
Learn Your Burnout Indicators
Humans respond to stress overload in several different ways. Some people simply shut down. Others go into overdrive to eliminate the pressure they are feeling. Are you aware of your own responses to stress? Understanding these reactions will help you manage them in the future.
“A body scan is the mental practice of evaluating the status of your physical body. It’s useful for uncovering how you are really doing,” says Trina Johnson, CEO of Blue Forest Farms. “Stress usually shows up in the body through tension, so try scanning through your body to see where you might be holding tension. Take a minute to evaluate your mental state, too.”
Noticing is the first step in preventative measures. Once you understand that your body is responding to its burnout indicators, you can take action to dissipate the stress without burning out further.
Work on Being Present
The human mind has a tendency to go on autopilot when it becomes overwhelmed. This can be helpful because it allows for productivity and somewhat normal function despite the mental chaos you may be enduring. However, the flip side is that memory retention, decision-making, and even mental awareness can all suffer. Staying focused on the task or situation at hand is one of the best ways to avoid burnout or stress overload.
“You know when you catch yourself thinking about something totally unrelated to whatever is taking place in front of your eyes?” says Brian Munce, Managing Director of Gestalt Brand Lab. “That is a symptom of burnout—the mind is seeking relief. You won’t change this habit in a day, but noticing it is a great start.”
Being more mentally present is not something you will master overnight or even in a couple of weeks. However, if you regularly check in with yourself and work on it, you’ll get there.
Take a Break
All people need rest and time to themselves. You, your employees, and pretty much every other human being will need a respite from the work environment at some point. The human brain is not capable of handling business-related topics endlessly.
“The human mind and body cannot work around the clock without a break,” says Yusuf Shurbaji, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Prismfly. “If you’re not taking regular breaks, you’re inching closer towards burnout.”
The great news here is there are no rules regarding what your break must look like. Is it a power nap? Perhaps a quiet moment or two outside in the fresh air? Incorporate whatever rest practices work for you!
Listen to Others
Collaboration and teamwork should be part of any business—these elements can make the company run like a dream. Additionally, they can help you decrease burnout while still managing your business effectively. That is, assuming you pay attention to them.
“Too many bosses hire employees to sit at their desk, do what was asked of them on the job application, and nothing more,” says Will Blum, Founder and CEO of Bluebird Hardwater. “But these employees have their own perspectives, which could positively influence the growth of your company—if you listen to them.”
Whether you’re in an open-floor meeting or a one-on-one setting, there are many ways to connect with employees. The only hurdle is your own desire to listen.
Don’t Let Burnout Get the Better of You
Hopefully, the ideas above have inspired you to fight the good fight against burnout. After all, you should avoid it at all costs when managing your business. Care for yourself and care for your business go hand in hand, so make sure you prioritize both.