Burnout is a big problem in the online business world.
I've been through it.
I've seen a lot of my friends go through it.
I've even seen a lot of million dollar online business owners go through it, where they've had so much work and they’ve worked so hard that they are verbally told by a doctor that they cannot work at all anymore. Some have even had to take an entire year off because their burnout has been so serious.
Let’s be real here - most of us can’t afford to take an ENTIRE YEAR off.
Yet, a lot of solopreneurs are heading in that direction.
Because they don't even realize that they are burning out. It’s one of those things you don’t give much attention to until it’s suddenly happening to you.
It's kind of like installing a fire alarm in your home. Some people put off doing this for months because they think to themselves, “I just haven't got time right now, but I will get around to doing something about it eventually. Besides, I've never set a fire in my home before. It most likely won’t happen to me.”
Until one day there is a fire, it suddenly IS happening to them, and they are left kicking themselves because they knew they should have set up the fire alarm months ago to prevent such an awful catastrophe from even happening in the first place.
Burnout can be a lot like that.
Working crazy hours for little amounts of money
Taking on whatever nightmare clients you must because you neeeeed the cash
Sacrifice time with your family and friends
Stop having breaks
As soon as you wake up, you check your emails and when you go to bed at night, you take your laptop with you (Sound familiar? 😓)
For months and months, you can do this and not feel too overwhelmed. You may feel tired, but tell yourself it’s OK because it’s “temporary”.
You’re OK with sacrificing the family time, the free time, the healthy food and the hobbies because you feel that’s what you need to do to make money and, you know… pay your bills.
But overworking like this will lead to burnout. And burnout will inevitably lead to you taking extended time off, which opens up a whole new problem of howtheheckdoIpaymybillsnow??
In this episode, I want us to talk about how to recognize burnout so you can stop it from even happening in the first place.
Signs that you are on the way to burnout...
1. Neglecting your basic needs or personal care. This means neglecting personal hygiene, no longer eating well, exercising or getting enough sleep.
For instance, during my burnout phase I would live on cheese on toast, nachos and LOTS of coffee. I also stopped going to the gym and I put on weight.
I can remember this really weird thing where my legs kept aching and I didn't know why, and it wasn't until months later when I started exercising again and it went away that I realized they were just aching because I didn't move my body. I didn't exercise my muscles. My body was literally calling out to me, saying “you need to leave your desk. You need to move and exercise and take CARE of yourself, girl.”
2. You have no time for anything that is non-work-related. Have you stopped your hobbies? When I went through business burnout, I stopped reading fiction. I stopped going for walks. And every podcast I listened to was business related. Every book that I read was business related. I gave up on all the hobbies that brought me joy and ignited my creativity… and my happiness suffered because of it.
3. You don’t take breaks. You may think you don't have time to take a break. (I used to hold in my pee sometimes for hours because I was on a roll and I had so much to do, and I just felt like I couldn't even stop to get up and go pee.) Instead of saying “I can't afford to take a break”, try saying “what can I do to afford to take a break?” because taking breaks is a part of being human. Don't deny yourself a basic human right.
4. Your thinking is negative. Your to-do list feels overwhelming - even the tiny things on it- and you experience feelings of anxiety and emptiness. A lot of medical websites like Healthline.com say that you may even turn to unhealthy behaviors to fill the void, like overeating and other types of addictive behaviors.
4 ways to avoid (or ease) burnout
Did any of the previous four points resonate? If so, thats totally OK. We’ve all been there, you are not alone. Here are 4 ways to avoid business burnout…
1. Get out a journal and write down your sources of burnout. It may help if you log your activities and emotions each day for a week and then look for sources of your burnout before you write them in your journal. Logging your activity for a week might make your sources clearer.
Sources of burnout could be things like…
Working too many hours
No systems or organization in your business. (Which I can help you with, FYI! Watch my free masterclass, A Simple 10-Step Plan to Organize Your Online Service Business.)
No boundaries with your clients
Look for your sources of burnout and then you can finally do something about them.
You can’t keep going the way that you are and expect your burnout to go away on its own.
2. Set boundaries! Start with setting boundaries around your work hours. Or maybe make a rule for yourself that you don't take your phone into your bedroom after 9 p.m and you leave it downstairs in the kitchen so you can't wake up and check your emails first thing in the morning.
If your clients are a source of stress for you, set a boundary around client communication. Tell your clients that you won't be emailing them on evenings and weekends. It’s boundaries like these that are small, but they give you soooo much more peace of mind and freedom.
3. Take some time off. It doesn't have to be a whole week. I know that can seem like a very unpractical thing to do when you are feeling stressed out, so if you have a lot of work on your plate, just try a weekend without your phone or your laptop, or one day midweek.
On the day/s you take off, shut your laptop down. Don’t even go on Youtube or Netflix. Instead, go outdoors, go for a walk, go shopping, or treat yourself to a meal for one. Do something you enjoy!
When you have a lot of work to do, it can feel like it's impossible to take a break because there's just too much to do but I assure you that that is the most important time to take that break.
Because you need to look after yourself first before anybody else. You are no help to anyone if you are burned out, especially your clients, because you're not going to be providing them with the best work that you possibly can.
But if you're well rested, you're going to provide sooo much better quality work for your clients. When you rest, you are doing yourself and everybody else a favor.
It's not a selfish thing to take a break.
4. Create a recurring timeout. So taking one break is great, but it isn't going to ease your burnout completely. One thing that has really helped me avoid slipping back into Burnout Mode is having a recurring “timeout”.
This could be one day each week, or a morning/afternoon each week that you take off.
It could be that every four weeks, you take one Monday off.
Or every three months, you take one week off.
The important thing here is to choose a time and frequency for having your timeout and stick to it.
I personally like to take Thursday's off unless I'm in a busy season, like in the middle of a course launch or something like that.
For me, Thursday’s are for self-care, chores, home organization, travel planning, appointments, coffee dates, practicing guitar and things like that.
And I never ever work on weekends. Weekends are my time to do volunteer work, go to my place of worship, visit family, travel and go out with friends.
Want To Learn More?
Click play on the podcast player below to listen to the rest of this episode and learn more! You’ll learn 21 self-care ideas to bring inner calm to your business and life + hear about my own struggle with burnout, and then addiction. Yep - I’m getting more vulnerable than usual in this episode!
More From Nesha
Hey there! I’m Nesha, the host of The Simple Business Show. I teach solopreneurs how to organize and simplify their business so they can do less and earn more while feeling ease and fulfillment in their biz. When I’m not podcasting or helping my course students, you’ll find me sipping caramel lattes in Starbucks, binge-watching This Is Us or traveling the world with my backpack and my laptop!
Looking for more ways I can help you? Here they are:
Organize & Automate - Use my premium course to organize your entire online service-based business in just two weeks (on the side of your regular routine!) so you can stop stressing and fall back in love with your business.
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