Want to hear about a time I almost died? (Well not really, but kinda)
The beginning stages of running your own business are never pretty. Burnout is inevitable no matter how organized or on top of things you think you are.
A benchmark burnout experience for me was 4 years ago right after the April 15th tax deadline. Leading up to the deadline, I worked until midnight each night and almost all weekend. I recall working every day for like 3 weeks straight.
During that time, I wasn’t thinking “Oh, I’m feeling overwhelmed, I should stop”… I was thinking about my clients! I was thinking about the commitments I made that needed to be fulfilled. I was going to finish everything no matter the consequences. I was thinking about being responsible to OTHERS, not myself. I was thinking about getting that money… but at what cost?
After the deadline passed I literally felt dead. I would sleep 12 hours straight. I had a hard time focusing on easy tasks. I physically felt like my eyes could not focus. I was TIRED. Physically, mentally, and emotionally I felt that I had reached my end.
So, how did I recover?
I TOOK OFF. I took a 6 hour drive to Southern California. For two weeks, I signed off completely. No checking emails, notifications were turned off… I spent the two weeks recharging on the beach with an umbrella-topped pineapple cocktail in hand.
When I did return to work, of course I was flooded with emails! But I was energized, alert and focused. Work was seemingly easy compared to the struggle and exhaustion felt before the deadline.
This experience forced me to promise myself that I would NEVER have a tax season like that again. I took it upon myself to figure out how to work smarter with less hours. While the burnout experience was brutal, it spurred a big change in my business.
It took extreme exhaustion and overload to realize, I can’t keep this up! Something has to give.
And you better believe I made a few tweaks. How I operate my business today is like night and day in comparison. I want to give you some pointers in case you are currently going through burnout. The end of the year is overwhelming. Here are 5 things you should do when you burnout:
Take a step back and reflect on how you feel. Try to recognize what burnout feels like for you. Taking note of how you feel when you burn out will help you prevent it in the future.
- Turn off notifications
As an entrepreneur the work is never ending. In the world of smartphones and constant notifications, your work is always with you. Turn it off! Create an automated email to let your clients know when you will return so you have no reason to open your apps. Remove yourself from the technology you run your business with.
- Take off
Physically remove yourself from your workspace! If you work from home, make an effort to go outside during the hours you would be working. It can be as quick as 5 minutes. Walk around the block. It’s almost magical how a small dose of the sun can recharge and revitalize the brain and body. If you are known to work 8+ hours straight without going outside, I dare you to take 10 minutes this afternoon to pause and go outside. Walk or just stand in the sun. Once you come back inside to resume work, you will feel so recharged.
Speaking of recharge…You know what makes you feel refreshed. Is it a vacation? Is it a workout? Is it a phone call with your bestie catching up on each others’ life? Spend time doing the things that make you feel like your best self. Reward yourself for working so hard!
- Don’t be so hard on yourself!
Burnout happens! Don’t beat yourself up. I know that taking time off can feel guilty when you are in the midst of many projects. And sometimes, you may not have a choice depending on the project at hand. Remember, you worked your a** off to get to this point. Let yourself rest. Schedule in the time to break. It can be just 1 day off. Give yourself grace. And know that when you return to work, you will naturally be able to show up better for your business.