You love your business! So you don’t mind working on it 24/7. You can sleep when you’re mega successful, right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re well on your way to business burnout. And when you hit that wall, it can take a long time to recover and get back into your groove.
These ups and downs are productivity killers—and they can damage your brand. On the other hand, a balanced and steady approach will keep your progress consistent…and keep you sane and healthy.
But what should you do if you’ve already crashed? Here my best tips—and tips from a few of my entrepreneur friends—for recovering from business burnout:
Recovery Tip #1: Stop Trying to Force It
If you’re feeling totally burnt out with your biz, but also feel like you HAVE TO log on and keep forging ahead, I urge you to stop. Give yourself permission to step away for a couple of days. The sooner you give your brain an actual break and recharge your batteries, the sooner you’ll feel like working again.
My friend and creator of #TheRightWords, Jaime Cohen, told me her remedy for business burnout is to “completely unplug.” This is a biggie for me, too.
Look, you’re not really getting that much done when you’re staring at the computer screen wishing you were doing something—anything—else, are you?
Recovery Tip #2: Set an “End of Workday” Time
When you work for yourself, it’s too easy to find yourself working well past 5pm when everyone else is clocking out. The beauty of having your own business is that you can work from wherever you want, whenever you want, so your hours don’t have to fall between 9 and 5. But you should still limit your daily work hours in a reasonable way (for the sake of your sanity).
If you find yourself logging on at 7am and still working at 7pm while your partner or your friends give you the side-eye, it’s no wonder you’re burnt out. Try setting a regular work schedule, or if you want flexibility, limit the number of hours you work in a given day. In my case, I want to be done with work by the time my husband gets home so we can spend time together.
Note: You might think you need to stick to the typical 8-hour workday. The truth is, though, 100% productivity is NOT achieved during an 8-hour workday. Aim for 3 or 4 hyper-focused, 90-minute work sessions throughout the day instead. After that, your focus and quality of output will wane anyway.
Recovery Tip #3: Get Connected
Brand photographer and all-around amazing human behind Heart Take the Wheel, Glady Dalton, suggests turning to your social circle: “Talking with biz friends always helps me refocus and get pumped!”
And I, for one, couldn’t agree more. In fact, Glady and I have hopped on many-a-Zoom call to get ourselves “in the zone.” If you don’t have a supportive tribe, maybe it’s time you found one. Outside perspective, a place to vent, and people to cheer you on are invaluable.
Recovery Tip #4: Take Frequent Breaks
I realize this doesn’t sound all that radical, but too many entrepreneurs start working from the moment they wake up (hello iPhone my old friend, I’ve come to check Facebook again…). It’s easy to lose track of time and oftentimes we’ll work straight through lunch!
Instead, as mentioned above, try working on one task or project at a time for 60-90 minutes, then take 15-30 minutes to yourself. Get up and do something non-work-related.
Ensuring that you get out of the 24/7 work-mode mindset is critical to recovering from business burnout.
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Recovery Tip #5: Get Active
Okay, so you know you should take frequent breaks, but let’s go one step further. Taking breaks from work does NOT mean scrolling social media for 30 minutes, especially since most of us probably use social media for our businesses (i.e., that’s not really taking a break).
Preferably, you get up and do something that gets your blood pumping and limbs moving a bit. Take a walk, check the mail, play with your pet, dance around…you get the idea. If you have an online business, chances are good that you spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer. But our bodies are not meant to sit for hours on end!
You don’t have to go full-on bodybuilder, okay? But when you exercise, your body releases happy-making endorphins (which also reduces stress), so you can see why activity is an important ingredient for battling business burnout. Exercise has also been shown to increase the production and release of serotonin and dopamine, which are other mood-boosting chemicals.
Maybe you say you hate working out, but your body and mind love it and need it. Do yourself and your business a favor and get active.
Recovery Tip #6: Nourish Your Body
It would be a disservice to tell you to work out without also telling you to make sure you’re eating wisely. But I’m not a nutritionist, so I asked my friend, Cathy Richards, for her thoughts:
“As a Registered Dietician and busy mompreneur, my number one tip to help my clients avoid burnout is to eat on a consistent basis! It’s super important in helping busy entrepreneurs (especially those with kids) have enough energy to get through the day. Ideally, you’ve got a balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates every 3 hours. I’m not talking about fancy meals—even simple, properly spaced snacks will work. And don’t forget to drink enough water!”
There you have it – eating right will help you avoid and recover from business burnout. If you want more energy-boosting tips, Cathy’s got a free resource for you: 7 Easy Lifestyle Hacks to Boost Your Energy.
Recovery Tip #7: Switch Up Your Environment
Could your business burnout be the result of staring at the same four walls day after day? If you’re feeling totally uninspired, why not try working from a new location? Be it a coffee shop, library, co-working space, or the great outdoors, changing up your surroundings can put you in a fresh frame of mind.
For me, even moving from my home office to the living room or the kitchen table can do the trick. Or I’ll switch between my sitting and standing desk (a good idea for your physical health and wellbeing, too). Sometimes I’ll find a project that shakes things up completely, like getting “made up” to film a video in my front room instead of working from my computer in my favorite sweats.
The point is, if you’re feeling burnt out, a change of scenery might be just what you need.
Recovery Tip #8: Focus on Your Top Three
Though I didn’t get a direct quote from Anne Samoilov (who you’ve met on the blog before), this is something she talks about on her Instagram Stories often: set a “top three” to-do list and focus on tackling only those things.
This approach makes so much sense. For one, if you’ve every created a massive list of tasks and thought “I’m going to check all of these off today,” you know that accomplishing that feat rarely happens. It’s overwhelming and distractions are bound to pop up. This constant feeling of “not doing enough” may be the culprit behind your burnout. Three priorities are reasonable; that’s an attainable goal.
Now, if you bust through your top three with time to spare, you can go ahead and tackle some other tasks, or you can take it easy—remember, the whole point is to recover from business burnout, not drive yourself into the ground.
Recovery Tip #9: Take a Vacation
Yeah, yeah, I know—lots of business owners feel like they can’t take a REAL vacation. They either think their business will fall apart while they’re gone (unlikely), or they feel pressured to work while on vacation (that’s just sad).
The truth is, you NEED vacations, even from the business you love. We all need downtime to rejuvenate our minds and bodies. After I take a vacation, I have so many new ideas for my business, and more importantly, the motivation to make them a reality.
Do it—book that trip. Your mind, body, and business will thank you for it.