Avoiding Entrepreneurial Burnout – 5 Keys for Staying Fresh
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Guest post by Matthew Toren, co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com, one of the largest and fastest growing small business social networking forums for entrepreneurs, and a “must visit” resource for start-up CEOs, founders, aspiring entrepreneurs, mentors and investors worldwide, reaching an audience that very few can match.
As a general rule, entrepreneurs are hard workers. We have to work hard if we hope to succeed in business. All too often, all that hard work adds up to a whole lot of stress and pressure that can take quite a toll over time. In fact studies have found that real damage can be done to people who overwork themselves without balancing hard work with some healthy habits. Some estimates even put up to 90% of all doctors’ visits as being for issues that are, in some form, stress related. Of course hard core workaholics say they have little choice and are just trying to become successful, but that success does no one any good if you’re not around or too sick to enjoy the benefits. So, here is a short list of steps you can take to stay fresh and avoid entrepreneurial burnout:
1. Manage your time well. Everyone has the same 24 hours to spend at the beginning of each day, but some people are not as good as others at managing that time well. Unfortunately, poor time management abilities can seriously add to a person’s burnout potential. And that makes sense. When we don’t make good use of time, deadlines sneak up on us, we find ourselves hurrying around everywhere we go, and we can even add to our stress by not being able to follow through as promised on projects. A great way to get better at time management is to compartmentalize your responsibilities. In other words, group tasks that are similar, so you don’t end up jumping all over and can focus on one specific category until you’re ready to move to the next. For instance, you can designate a specific time every day to check your email, or to turn your attention to social media. Even though Twitter wants to know what you’re doing every second, this is much more efficient than checking in throughout the day. The increase in your focus will end up saving you a ton of time.
2. Exercise your body as much as your brain. As a business owner, there’s little doubt your brain is getting a regular workout, but what about your body? Staying in the best physical shape possible is by far the best way to reduce your stress and increase your ability to handle more stress in ways that won’t harm you long term. Exercise has a positive, lasting effect on your mind and body, and it’s one of the very best ways to combat burnout. And the great part is that it really doesn’t have to take that much time from your schedule. Just 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week can make a huge difference!
3. Eat well. Similar to exercise, eating right will help you to feel good and reduce stress and burnout. And even for busy business owners on the move, who often resort to unhealthy food choices, it can be easier than you might think to make some important changes to your diet. Just the simple act of eliminating soft drinks from your life and replacing them with clean (unflavored) water can make a significant difference in how you feel. And you’re likely to lose some weight in the process!
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Entrepreneurs are notoriously independent, and we often reject the idea that we need help. But while this attitude might have allowed you to break free from the pack and venture into entrepreneurship in the first place, it’s also one that can lead to burnout early. Approaching this issue the right way though, can not only help you stay healthy and productive, it can actually end up saving you money and keep you in better control of your business. For example, finding a virtual assistant or part time help to take on those tasks you don’t like or that take up too much of your time will not only improve your state of mind, it will also free you up to work on building your business and do what you’re most passionate about. And passion is sort of like the opposite of burnout!
5. Socialize. Setting aside time to do whatever you love to do – other than work – is important for living a balanced, fulfilled life. Whether you go out to dinner with friends, see a movie now and then, attend a sports event or head to the park with the family, social time helps to take your mind off the pressures of your business for a little while. Having some fun and focusing on activities that aren’t business related on a regular basis will help reduce stress and might even make you more productive when you return to work.
Do you have other suggestions for managing stress, avoiding burnout, and staying fresh as an entrepreneur? Be sure to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!