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Burnout is common among entrepreneurs and even ambitious professionals. Over the years I have often dealt with burnout. As the founder of a startup with high ambitions, I had many goals that I was determined to achieve – but the result often meant that I overworked myself, leading to burnout.
Unfortunately, burnout can often come without any warning. If you’re very passionate about your job, like I am, you often don’t even feel like you’re working. As a result, more time is spent on work than is healthy.
Statistics show that entrepreneurs tend to sleep less and work more hours a day. A Small Business Trends report said 70% of business owners and the self-employed continue to work past their bedtime. Elon Musk says he worked 120 hours a week. Some entrepreneurs work more than 18 hours a day. The result of overload comes with huge personal costs – so let’s see how we can avoid it.
Related: Understanding Entrepreneurial Burnout (and How to Cope With It)
Burnout doesn’t just affect professionals
Spending too much time on an activity is unhealthy. Whether it’s professional work or sports, household chores or even video games, overdoing it leads to burnout, stress and a compromised immune system. The result can be minor or major health problems, such as headaches, fatigue, anxiety, and even a higher risk of cancer. In addition, exhaustion and overwork can lead to clouded judgment, resulting in the loss of business or work opportunities, not to mention the effect on family and marital relationships.
In addition to health and relationship costs, there are also productivity costs. A train cannot travel fast forever. Finally there is a malfunction. For employees, this comes in the form of exhaustion or illness that makes you slow down or stop your work completely. You can lose many weeks after a burnout. Heart health can also be affected.
For these reasons, homeworkers and entrepreneurs must regulate their work so that they do not work overtime.
Related: 7 Misconceptions That Lead to Burnout
How to identify and prevent a burnout?
In my experience, burnout comes from an addiction to work, a byproduct of becoming a workaholic. You feel like you have to do something, get something done. Soon, your mind becomes blurry and productivity drops, but you can’t stop working. Often you are just busy and you are barely achieving anything at this stage. It is followed by muscle pain and exhaustion. And yet you may not be able to stop working because you have become addicted to it. Many professionals become so addicted to work that they don’t feel like going on vacation or even working on weekends.
The best way to prevent burnout is to limit the number of hours you work. You can do this by setting working time limits and taking regular breaks during the day and especially at night and on weekends, and taking regular vacation days. Creating a work schedule with regular breaks and vacations prevents you from becoming a workaholic and the harbinger of burnout.
If you see any signs that you are becoming addicted to work (ie you need to keep working without resting or stopping), it’s best to stop, take a break and just relax.
Depending on the degree of exhaustion, the rest period can last from a few hours to days and even a few weeks to allow the effects of a burnout to disappear.
Related: 3 Ways to Avoid Entrepreneurial Burnout
Top strategies to prevent burnout
If you need some ideas on where to start in your burnout prevention journey, here are my suggestions:
- Identify the most important tasks and focus on getting them done first.
- Goals set. Each task should bring you closer to achieving your main goal.
- Distinguish between income-generating activities and non-income-generating activities. Income-generating activities, such as talking to a potential customer, cold calling, or providing services should be a high priority. Non-income generating activities include tasks such as posting to the company’s social media or updating the company’s website.
- Do not spend unnecessary time on the computer/tablet/smartphone. Use these devices with purpose, for important tasks that need to be done. Otherwise avoid them. It’s easy to get involved with these devices, with so many activities available online, even business. And that costs even more of your energy, which can lead to burnout. When you’re not on the internet, you can focus on the work that matters to your business. Otherwise, you may be occupying yourself with unimportant tasks.
- Delegate work for others to do.
- Limit the time you can access the internet, such as not having WiFi. A lot of time is spent on the internet, on social media or browsing news or YouTube/movies and these things reduce the work-life balance. Not having unlimited access to the internet makes for a more balanced life.
Burnout affects both productivity and mental health. It can even have long-term effects on work ability and professional progress. For a healthy, balanced and stress-free life, it is therefore important to prevent burnout by having a relaxed work schedule.
Related: Experiencing Burnout? Here’s how to fix it.