As a self-proclaimed “modern day entrepreneur,” I have found myself in the throes of burnoutville. That place you get to when you’ve simply done too much, worked too many hours, committed to too many events and have zero time left for you (or your family). Talking about burnout with other founders, makers and entrepreneurs has led me to believe I’m not alone. Really not alone. Burnout is something talked about privately, behind closed doors with your closest peers or friends — usually only those who can truly understand the time demands on someone who works for themself. After a few of these discussions, I decided to go straight to a respected source, productivity expert, podcaster, author and keynote speaker Amy Landino.
“Happiness only happens in the present. Not in the potential future. Not even in the nostalgic past. It’s right now or it’s never.” -Amy Landino
The following is my interview with Amy as she both helps me and offers general advice for others who have both experienced burnout and are looking for ways to avoid it in the future. If we know the signs and symptoms of an approaching burnout, we can give ourselves the tools and skillsets to avoid fully going down that path. Once you reach a place of burnout it takes a significant amount of time to reemerge and get energy back. It takes a toll on your mind, body and spirit and can fully incapacitate you.
Here’s what Amy had to say:
What are the signs and symptoms that burnout is approaching?
AL: Feeling like something that you genuinely love or enjoy is a chore is a pretty strong indication that you’re burning out. You start procrastinating on things you used to jump at the chance to do. You still want to do them, but not with the same vigor you once remember. Depending on the relationship you have with the thing you’re burning out on, too, you might notice symptoms of constant concern of what other people are thinking or feeling about your actions and a severe lack of self-care. Overall, if you’re not looking forward to your days at all, you’re probably burning out.
Where do the majority of people go wrong right before burnout takes over and become debilitating?
AL: Assuming it won’t happen! You can get absolutely burnt out over anything and refusing to recognize that that obstacle will come is a sure way to sign up for it and let it take you out completely. You must integrate moments of your day every day that are truly for you to take care of yourself and give you the mental space of remember what’s important and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Maybe you don’t need to meditate, but journaling when you wake up in the morning could be the slow start to the day that helps you feel less worried about the rest of the world the moment your feet touch the ground. Small decisions everyday will make a big difference in mental health over time.
What are 3 things people can start doing when they hit the “red zone” (just before complete burnout)?
- A. Ready The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday. I read this book every morning so that I keep my perspective in the right place. You’ll learn from the stoics that things are only as we react to them. If you consider reacting differently or not at all to things that seem negative, you will gain a lot of mental space that can be better applied to the task or taking care of yourself.
- B. Take a freakin’ break. If you’re not doing brain surgery, then act like it. Your work and life are filled with things that are important and I’m sure you want to make good on your commitments. But things are usually only as important as we ourselves have made them. Do yourself a favor and be okay with taking time away from the thing that is increasingly burning you out. Usually, you’ll come back refreshed and ready to be better than ever.
- C. Ask for help. Burnout has a lot to do with taking on too much. A break will help but knowing a couple of the wheels are still going thanks to someone who is helping you may be the peace of mind you have to be able to fully embrace your break.
Once you’re back to a “good place,” how important is a new, modified or continued routine?
AL: Routines are so critical. We get burnt out not only over the tasks that are pulling at us, but the countless decisions we need to make throughout the day. If you are having a hard time deciding what to wear in the morning and that is the stress that starts your day, how are you going to be for the more critical decisions that will absolutely come. Burnout, stress and over questioning ourselves tends to lead us to saying ‘yes’ too easily because we don’t know what we actually want. And thus the cycle begins again. You have new commitments constantly that aren’t actually that important to you. Build a routine so that the basic needs that you have every day are taken care of without question. A quiet moment alone. A workout. Your meals planned in advance.
What do you recommend that routine includes?
AL: Everyone’s routine needs to be different because we all live different lives and have different values. In my book Good Morning, Good Life in talking about the importance of customizing a morning routine for yourself, I believe if you fill 3 buckets—no matter what the routine items actually are—you’ll have a day that’s truly started on your own terms.
- 1. Movement: Do something to move your body, whether it’s a workout or just some stretching.
- 2. Mindfulness: Do something that allows you to be completely present with your thoughts. I prefer to journal, but you might like the idea of regular meditation instead.
- 3: Mastery: What can you do that helps you work toward a goal or become better versed in a particular area? I find this to be my best creative time for my work. Maybe you decide to use it to learn a foreign language.
The point is to have these routine items decided in advance and ready for you to easily start every day, saving your energy for the rest of the happenings of the day.
How did you know you had an entrepreneurial spirit and how did you harness it?
I really didn’t know. I just found something that I was passionate about and kinda good at. So I focused my extremely positive energy at becoming the best at it so it could be what I did everyday. Ultimately, if you want to do something all day long, you probably need to make some money at it. So I learned about business along the way. I only became entrepreneurial because I loved what I was doing so much that it made me unemployable.
Where do YOU go to learn? Think places like entrepreneurial on-demand content like Forbes8
I’m a visual learner. Online I like to go to YouTube to learn. But I also love getting out of the office and going to live events so I can learn from people in real life. Unintentionally, though, living my daily life is a great way to learn. The best learning experiences were ones that were unplanned.
How much time should someone spend learning versus doing?
We live in a world where our excuses have flipped. “I don’t know how” is no longer an accepted answer. That used to be how we could procrastinate on attempting to achieve a goal. Now with the Internet Age, we can learn almost anything in an instant whether paid or not. Now when we procrastinate our answers sound like “Oh I know.” because you do in fact know what to do but just haven’t. Or you might say “I’m working with a coach” or “I’m taking a course on it.” Be careful on those answers when you give them. How long have you been taking your course? Have you been doing your homework? Does your coach have to remind you regularly to do the thing they told you do every week before? How much do you know that you’re no implementing. Perfection is the enemy of progress and spending too much time talking about what education you’re getting will surely postpone the hard part: the doing. I don’t think there’s a clear answer for anyone on how much you should be learning vs. doing, but what I know for sure is that I’ve never paid for a coach or a course and I’ve learned quite a bit along the way by actually doing the work.
What is a great “learning” routine to put what you’re learning into action?
I think it’s important to have a goal with every new lesson you’re seeking. If there’s not something you can actually do with the information you’re absorbing on the other side of learning, it will likely not stick. I read a lot of books and each time I do, I actively search for a executable thing I can take away from the reading experience that I will start doing as soon as I’ve finished the book. All books can teach us so much from someone’s life experience. Being able to do something immediately because you learned from someone else’s mistakes is a very smart learning routine.
How does one find or maintain the stamina to remain consistent and stay motivated in a healthy way?
Know why you’re doing this. If the answer is that ‘it looks cool on Instagram,’ don’t plan on any success. You’ll be burnt out before you know it, mostly because you’re not doing the right things and any of the right reasons. Being honest with yourself about what’s important to you and therefore what you’re going to spend your time working on is massively important. It doesn’t have to be your public tagline. It just has to move you. Know your ‘why.’
What do you find your listeners ask you about most?
How to stay motivated. I share a lot of information on YouTube about how to go after the life you want. But if you never know the life you want, you’ll have your ladder leaned against an unidentified building. Who wants to climb so high and for so long without knowing what the end looks like? Not me. When you’re not sure how to be motivated, you haven’t found the thing that gets you excited. Do that first.
Forbes8 was mentioned in this interview and is a third-party client of Sevans Digital PR. The writer was not compensated to include the mention.