Practical ways to avoid business burnout

Practical ways to avoid business burnout

So, what is burnout anyway? Well, according to the description we found at, burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion brought about by prolonged and excessive stress. Yikes! Symptoms include feeling tired all of the time, low immunity levels, lack of motivation and feelings of worthlessness. Does this relate to business? You betcha! Many of us work long hours, battling onwards to please our clients and customers. We burn the candle at both ends to ensure we get all of our daily jobs completed on time. We work hard thinking that is how our business is going to succeed, but when we work without any semblance of a break, we are driving ourselves (and our business) into the ground.

Have you ever experienced burnout? Then you don’t need us to tell you how awful it is. If you have never experienced burnout, but have felt some of the burnout symptoms in your life, then you need to take a step back. In both cases, you need to put a strategy in place to ensure you don’t fall ill with this common problem experienced by many a business leader. We have some tips here that we think you will find useful, but remember to seek medical help if you are currently suffering from extreme stress and exhaustion.

Take a break from work for a while

You aren’t doing yourself any good, or your staff or customers, if you are coming into work every day in an exhausted state. You need to book time off, whether that’s for a short period, or over a longer term if you are bowing to the symptoms of burnout. Whether going away on holiday, or spending time reflecting on your own at home, you should find space where you can rest and unwind, recharging your batteries, and gaining some perspective of your life again. You will feel better if you give yourself the time you need to get yourself back on track, and you will consequently have renewed energy and vigour to deal with the demands at work.

Spend time with others

Now, there are people who are going to exhaust you further. Whenever possible, avoid these energy-drainers. Instead, resolve to spend time with those people who lift you up, who make you feel better about yourself, and who boost your energy rather than drag it down. If you work in an office by yourself, this is especially useful. Feelings of isolation can add to the negative feelings you are experiencing, so consider the benefits of a co-working space, or get out of the office once in a while and spend time in a place where you can be in the company of others, whether you interact with them or not. Even a smile from somebody else can lift your day.

Cut down your workload

You have a lot to do; we get it. But do you really need to focus your time on everything? Not only will you struggle to get everything done, but you will also fail to complete those tasks to a reasonable standard. You need help, finding those people or technological solutions to reduce your workload, and in turn, reduce the feelings of exhaustion that may have befallen you. So, take a look at the tasks you struggle with or don’t have time for. Rather than ploughing on with them, hire more staff or outsource to others. As an example, you should use Payroll recruitment agency, Portfolio Payroll to deal with some of the financial aspects of your business. You could outsource your web design or marketing if you find your time bogged down with either. You should also make use of apps and software to do those jobs you haven’t always got time for. Take our article on email automation, as a useful example. The more work you can pass over to somebody (or something) else, the better, especially when it means you can focus your energies on tasks that are more within your skill level and job description.

Focus on staying healthy

A busy lifestyle often has a knock-on effect to your lifestyle. You may be too busy to have a decent breakfast in the morning, for example. You may be working too long in the office, so you have little time to exercise adequately. In both cases, changes need to be made. You need to eat healthily, and this will benefit your health physically and mentally. Make time for breakfast, or whip up a fruit smoothie to better start your day. Pack a healthy lunch, and avoid eating junk food after work because you tell yourself you ‘don’t have time’ to prepare your own dinner. You really should consider a slow cooker if this relates to you. Then exercise more. If you commute to work, get off the bus or train an hour earlier and walk the rest of the way. If you are working from home, have a break every so often, and stretch your legs outside. And remember to get your beauty sleep. Staying up late working and getting up early to start work is going to defeat you in the end, so do what you need to do to ensure you get sufficient sleep each night. Your body and mind will benefit if you do.

Start saying ‘no’ to others (and yourself)

Every time you say ‘yes,’ you are adding something else to your busy day. When you are working at full capacity, start to say ‘no.’ Whether it’s a request from a staff member, client, or customer, tell them ‘no’ but promise to help with whatever the matter is when you have cleared some of your workload. This applies to the demands you impose on yourself as well. You may be tempted to take on an extra piece of work, but if you know you won’t have time to work on it effectively, don’t! Prioritise your work day so you only focus on the essential and time-sensitive tasks, so you then have time to take on extra tasks if, and only if, they are worthy of your immediate attention. By saying ‘no’ to the unimportant requests that befall you, you will have more time to say ‘yes’ to the things that count.

Final word

To avoid burnout, put all of these things into practice. Don’t let the pressures of work come between you and your health. Life is short enough as it is, so balance your life to prosper both the longevity of your business and your personal well being.

*Photo by Andy Tootell on Unsplash

Christine Buske is a former academic who left science at the bench, and now considers herself a woman in tech. She is a frequently invited speaker, and enjoys talking about career transformation (particularly leaving academia for the business world), tech, issues around women in tech, product management, agile, and outreach. She is a proud Canadian resident, and qualifies as a "serial expat".


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