Avoid Burnout – 5 Tips for Busy Entrepreneurs

We entrepreneurs are a hard working lot.  If we want success, we have to be.  And a lot of times that means long hours, deadlines, and pressures that can add up over time.  Studies have shown that if you don’t take steps to care for yourself while you’re working to build your dreams, you can do some real damage.  In fact, some estimates say that up to 90% of visits to doctors’ offices stem from stress-related issues.  And what good does it do to build a successful business if you’re not around to enjoy it or have to deal with health concerns because of it?  To avoid burnout and enjoy the journey – and the rewards – more, follow these tips:

1. Exercise more than just your brain. As an entrepreneur, you’re continuously giving your brain a workout, but don’t forget about your body.  One of the best ways to reduce stress, and condition yourself to handle more stress, and handle it better, is to stay in good physical shape.  If you’re going to take time out of your busy day to participate in any activity, few will have a more positive, lasting effect than exercise.  And if you think you don’t have time for it, you might have some misperceptions about what it takes to stay in shape.  You don’t need to spend hours a day working out to reduce stress and feel better.  Just a few minutes a day, a few days a week will help a lot, and you’ll feel a difference quickly.

2. Watch what you’re putting in your gullet. Along the same lines as exercise, watching your diet is important for feeling your best and will help you deal with stress and burnout.  Busy entrepreneurs are often on the move, and need to grab a quick bite on the go.  Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, what you’re stuffing your mouth with isn’t always the stuff that will keep you feeling your best.  Something as simple as cutting down on high-sugar snacks and drinks can make a big difference in how you feel, and you’ll be far less likely to experience that common afternoon burnout, much less long-term burnout.

3. Don’t go it alone. Trying to do everything yourself is a one-way ticket to entrepreneurial burnout.  Unfortunately, it’s also very common among people building their own businesses.  Whether it’s our independent nature or the need to save money, we entrepreneurs are often reluctant to hire anything out, and it can end up hurting us in the long-run.  The good news is that we can maintain control of our businesses and actually end up saving money if we approach this problem properly.  Consider finding one or more virtual assistants or freelancers to help you out.  You’ll not only pay less than you would for employees, but the time you’ll free up will allow you to concentrate more on the things that are making you income.  And the best part is that you’ll avoid burnout by delegating those tasks that you’d rather not do anyway, which will make you feel better and will free up time to follow some of the other advice on this list.

4. Get social. A necessary ingredient in a truly fulfilled life, and a key to preventing burnout, is to set aside time to participate in activities that you enjoy and are completely unrelated to your work.  Going out with friends, attending a sporting event, seeing a movie, or hitting the beach with the family can all help to get your mind off your pressures for a little while.  The key is to have some fun while focusing on something other than your business.  That’s not to say you won’t think about work at all, but your concentration will be on your friends, family, and the activity you’re participating in.  When you do return to your work, you just might be surprised at how refreshed you feel, and the ideas and inspiration that come to you!

5. Manage the clock. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but we definitely don’t all make the most of that time.  A lack of time management skills can seriously contribute to burnout.  If you’re not managing your time well, deadlines creep up faster, you find yourself rushing everywhere, and you might end up dealing with the added stress of letting people down by not being able to follow through as you promise.  There are a lot of online tools to help you manage your time, and technology can make a big difference in this area.  Another way to improve in this area is to compartmentalize your tasks.  In other words, group all similar tasks so you aren’t hopping all over the place and can focus on one area until you’re ready to move to the next.  For example, set aside a specific time each day to focus on social media and a time for email, rather than checking them throughout the day.  This will increase your focus and ultimately save you a lot of time.

What other tips do you have for managing stress and avoiding burnout?  Or, what’s your biggest challenge with managing your business and avoiding burnout?  Share in the comments!

Matthew Toren

Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs.org, BizWarriors.com and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley).

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