How To Avoid A Business Burnout – 5 Strategies to Help You Stay Motivated as a Creative Entrepreneur
Running a business is hard work, especially if you’re doing it all on your own.
You have to juggle every project, every client, every task & every detail.
(Not to mention all of the stuff in between)
There are so many ups & downs with running your own business, it’s quite the rollercoaster.
When business is great, it’s seriously wonderful. You feel on top of the world.
When business isn’t so great…..it feels like your life is coming to an end (maybe not literally, but you know what I mean). You’re spending most of your time worrying than actually creating. It feels like you’ve just totally lost interest in your own business…and that’s scary.
What’s is a Burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.” Source
So, What’s a Business Burnout?!
It’s when you become unproductive & totally unmotivated to do ANYTHING related to your business. Even if you love your clients, your industry & your business….too much of a good thing, can still be too much.
Running your own business & having to deal with all the highs & lows….and stress can lead to some crazy emotional & mental exhaustion.
It’s like, even though you have things you have to do (which normally you love doing)….you’d rather curl up into a blanket cocoon and watch Netflix for 47 straight hours.
I think the biggest culprit of the big-bad-burnout, is lack of balance.
Focusing too much on business & not enough on ourselves.
Always putting clients & projects in front of our own priorities.
Having to juggle so many things, by yourself.
All of this causes stress and burnout is a direct reflection of that.
I’m sure we’ve all felt this way, to some extent, in one way or another.
Sometimes, we totally know we’re in a burnout stage…and then we start to feel guilty about it, which just adds to the exhaustion….which just amplifies the burnout.
So How do we avoid it?
Here are 5 strategies to help you stay motivated as a creative entrepreneur:
#1 – Set Boundaries & Learn When To Say No
When you run your own business, you make the rules. Most of the time this is wonderful, but when it comes to making decisions…you have no one to fall back on. The hardest thing for me to figure out was who to say no to.
Opportunities come & go and it’s very tempting to always say yes to them, especially when you’re first starting out. But, one of the best things I’ve learned to do is to take a second and evaluate each opportunity.
Are you excited to work with that client on that project, or are you doing it just to scrounge up some extra cash? Do you really want to go to that networking event, or are you going to make an appearance just because you think you should?
Don’t get me wrong, a big part of the business is stepping out of your comfort zone; trying new things, and testing out new waters. But, all of that doesn’t mean you have to say yes to every opportunity that comes knocking on your door.
Setting boundaries, especially with clients is another big thing to get used to. If you don’t give them boundaries, regardless of how lovely they are, they may start to take advantage of your time (even if it’s not on purpose)….causing you to feel guilty for saying no….and ultimately interfering with you-time.
Just because you own the business, doesn’t mean you have to be working on it 24/7.
Make a schedule or block out office hours. Set up an auto responder in your email, letting clients know that it could take up to 24 hours for you to get back to them. (This total helps with the “Omg, I have an email from a client and I need to answer right now before they think I’m ignoring them….type of feeling)
#2 – Make Time For Yourself
Do you know that the most important part of your business is?
You. Without you, your business wouldn’t function.
Take a step back.
Not making time for yourself is a one-way ticket to burnout highway.
Don’t think there’s enough time in the day, to take a little break for yourself? Commit to less. No one said you have to do everything, all the time, for everyone.
Give your brain a break. No human is wired to move at the speed of light all the time.
Don’t feel guilty about it, just go relax.
Sometimes, thinking about taking a little break actually creates MORE stress because you’re not actively tackling your to-do list BUT once you take the step away, you’ll realize it’s actually quite the opposite. Self-care is just as important as all of your business tasks. Taking some time away from working can actually help you come back 10x more focused.
So, instead of mindlessly working like a robot to finish tasks, you actually end up being more productive because you’re re-energized & refocused.
Making time for your mind to stay balanced…and healthy.
Put the work down & go hang out with your friends & family. Plan a weekend getaway. Go get a pedicure or a massage. Drink lots of water and eat more vegetables. Grab some friends and try a new workout class or go for a walk around your neighborhood.
Taking a break (big or small) helps you clear your head so when you come back to your work, you might just see things with a whole new perspective.
#3 – Get Organized
Organization is one of those things that we alllll know we have to focus on. Disorganization starts to snowball….until the mess becomes chaos and the chaos starts to give you a ginormous headache to even think about.
If you feel burnout coming on…..conquer strategy #2…..and then come back with a clear mind and take a look at your workflow. Sometimes we get stuck in such a cycle that we don’t realize how totally ineffective & chaotic it is.
Analyze your daily tasks & your business flow. Could you benefit from a new process?
Implementing new business systems sound like a headache at first, but they can help smooth out some of those annoying time-draining processes….like bookkeeping (ugh, I totally hate bookkeeping, but 17Hats* makes it a little easier)
It’s not just about your online business systems…but what about the way you organize your files on your computer…could those be better organized? Or what about your stack of scribbled notes next to your desk?
Businesses evolve and so do processes, so it’s important to analyze them to make sure that whats worked in the past….still makes sense now.
Take a look at your workspace.
Is it a mess? Organize that too.
It’ll make you feel more productive, being surrounded by a nicely organized, clean workspace.
Have too many little tasks that you’re not a fan of doing? Outsource them.
Hire a virtual assistant to give you a hand…..your sanity is totally worth the investment.
Take some time to organize every aspect of your business, one step at a time.
I promise, you’ll be thanking yourself later!
#4 – Re-Evaluate Your Goals & Priorities
Sometimes the best way to figure things out in business is to learn as you go.
It helps you gain experience & improve your problem-solving skills.
When you’re the boss, you get to decide when something is no longer important or if you’d like to change up the direction of your business. You have the opportunity to test out new tactics, services, & products.
You have the freedom to shift your entire strategy if you really want to.
This all sounds great in the big scheme of things, but having too many choices, too many options & too many things to focus on becomes overwhelming and exhausting.
If you’re about to hit burnout-mode maybe it’s time for a little reevaluating.
Sometimes we’re too close to the business to realize that it’s changing, little by little.
Sometimes we’re too focused on the little things, that we forget to look at the big picture.
Sit down and focus on what your business goal is, right now.
Maybe it’s different from when you first started, but that’s okay!
Write down your big business goal.
Write down & explain your ideal client.
Write down the motivation behind running your own business.
Write down the things that are most important to you; your priorities.
Looking at this information can help you visualize the big picture.
Visualizing your business this way can help you define little goals & priorities to help you get to where you want to be.
When you start to figure out what’s important to you and your business, you can stop worrying about the other things that aren’t in your best interest. You stop wasting energy & time on tasks that won’t benefit your business goal….which makes more space for the things that actually matter.
#5 – Find Your Inspiration
Remember your pre-burnout days…where you would jump out of bed, ready to get moving on all of the fun projects you have lined up? (okay, maybe not jump out of bed….I need coffee first)
You were inspired to work:
Work with your clients.
Work on your projects.
Work on your business.
But what happens when you’re in big-bad-burnout mode and you literally don’t even want to think about your business or your to-do list?
You have to get re-inspired.
How do you get your inspiration back?
Everyone is different, but typically if you’re a creative entrepreneur….you generally get joy out of the whole being-creative aspect of it.
So, use your creativity in a whole new way.
- Go experiment with recipes in the kitchen.
- Read a book about other successful creative’s business journey.
- Look at another’s person’s creative work, that isn’t in your industry.
- Browse Pinterest and try out a new craft.
- If you’re feeling extra saucy, get a new haircut.
Use your hands….and make something, anything….even if it’s a paperclip monkey. (if you can make a monkey out of a paper clip…send me a picture)
Using your creativity in a new way is a great way to get your inspiration back.
Some ways that help me:
- Trying out new restaurants across town.
- Exploring somewhere I’ve never been, whether it’s a new hiking trail…or a trip out of town.
- Scooping out Groupon for deals on activities I haven’t tried out yet (this is how I started kickboxing….and now I’m obsessed with it)
- Walking around the thrift store, looking for furniture to up-style & makeover.
- Teaching myself something new…..last year I bought a sewing machine…
- Browsing Pinterest for new DIY crafts.
- Reading inspirational quotes, sayings, and mantras.
- Mediatating and doing yoga,
- Experimenting with new recipes & tweaking them to make them my own.
- Reading books… self-help books, business books, or fiction books….any books.
- Painting. Drawing. Coloring…..those adult coloring books are pretty addictive.
- Helping someone, with anything. Whether it’s in the form of donations, volunteering or teaching someone a few web design tricks that they’re having trouble with.
- Watching Shark Tank. Seriously. Something about those entrepreneurs make me want to get out a notebook and scribble down a million new business ideas.
Basically, do something that makes you happy.
Really happy, like can’t think of anything else because you’re so focused on what you’re doing because it makes you happy….happy.
Your inspiration isn’t gone forever, it’s just hiding…you have to go find it.
Basically, the bottom line is, burnouts suck. The key to avoiding them is figuring out your personal plan to stay balanced & motivated.