One of the many complications we have to deal with is burn out. In the entrepreneurial world, there has been this push to get the most out of our work. From maximizing our time to using all kind of productivity hacks and more.
But one thing that so many productivity hacks and strategies miss out on is addressing burn out.
What if we’re too productive that we run out of energy?
What if the work you were doing is stressing us out to the point that it’s draining?
No productivity hack can get you out of a state where you are burnt out.
Fortunately for you, there are a number of other strategies that we can try out to avoid this case. The strategies that I’m pulling are tactics that even the busiest people in the world have mastered and used. Needless to say they are quite effective.
Your body will certainly thank you for taking advantage of these.
Give Yourself A Vacation
Whether it’s a long one or a short one, finding the opportunity to leave work and keep it away is incredibly helpful. This means when you go on vacation you avoid answering emails or answering phone calls.
Be the example employee by leaving work at work.
Aside from that, it also gives you a good opportunity to connect with other people. One thing that entrepreneurs and people in general who work too much forget is that there is more to life than work. Sure your work may be something you love, but there is always an opportunity cost to it. By focusing on work we neglect other things that help us work better effectively.
Our health to keep our mental and physical energy high.
The relationships that we have. The people and friends that give us a reason to push through our work.
You don’t want to forget those aspects of your life.
Focus On Your Inner Harmony
One thing that I’ve been spending time thinking about is trying to find balance in my life and whether that’s actually important to me. This is especially important since so many people work hard to maintain a work and life balance.
Instead of trying to find some kind of balance, I’ve started to move towards finding passion and harmony. It’s why I’m able to devote large portions of time to my writing work. It’s also why I don’t worry so much about how much time I’ve worked over the week. Just the amount that I put in.
My goal is being able to connect to my work and the people that I work with.
For you, harmony might be different and that’s okay. I’d challenge you to drop the whole work-life balance and ask yourself what will bring you inner peace.
How much work do you need to do in a day or a week to feel fulfilled?
How much time do you need to spend with other people to feel connected? Be it clients, family or friends?
Use those as your compass and make changes as you go along. That in of itself is your balance and will help you avoid burn out.
Be Aware Of Your Breaking Point
I don’t believe a word when someone tells me that it’s impossible to unplug from work. Burn out is something we can avoid if we know what we’re doing. Part of that is knowing exactly where your limits are.
While I believe limits are meant to be broken, some limits we have are more designed to know where they are rather than broken. This is one of the limits that isn’t meant to be broken.
Take some time to gauge yourself and figure out what sort of work exhausts you and what keeps you going. And at the end of the day make sure you take those vacations or breaks. Go for a bike ride, have a fun night out with friends or take an afternoon or day off.
Have A Positive Day
When the work that you doing feels like a job, it can start to drain you as time goes on. The last thing that you want is to view your work like it’s a chore and risk burn out. One way you can avoid all of this is to have a day filled with joy and positivity.
While there is a case to be said about too much positivity, generally speaking, having a good day or making the most out of a day is key for any person.
I’ve provided some suggestions for how to become and stay positive all day that I’d suggest checking out. But one other method is to learn more on your strengths and avoid the things that are too tough on you if you can.
Do you not like working with numbers? Find someone who’ll handle them.
Struggle with getting organized? Put together a system or find someone who can help you get more organized.
Put Some Free Time In Your Day
I took a program ten years ago called Katimavik. The program changed my life dramatically but one aspect to it was that we were always doing something. Every week, we planned out our entire week. Whether it was group activities or volunteer events, there was always something to do.
But while we were constantly doing something, we did have four slots available for free time. During those blocks, we were free to do whatever we wanted.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is your life should have something similar to that. While it’s definitely key to be moving forward, make sure you are devoting time to other aspects. Much like the other strategies in this article, you need to have ways to wind down.
Maybe not for four hours but to pause for a half hour and do something else.
By doing this, you’re allowing your body to recharge and get inspired all over again.
Change Your Environment
Some of my highest output stems from a shift in environment. As such, I personally use a change in environment as a treat to myself if I worked hard over the course of the week.
Regardless of if you do something like that or not, having a change in environment can provide immense relief and help you avoid burn out. Fortunately for us, it’s now easier to make changes to your environment and work in other locations. Thanks in part to cloud-based tools like Skype, Dropbox and more.
On top of providing relief, a new environment can spark innovation and creativity. This allows you to breath new life into your work and gives you more energy.
Have A Power Nap
Naps aren’t for kids. Grown adults can take them too and sometimes that’s all you need. If napping isn’t your thing you can always meditate. Again the whole idea is to spend some time winding down and allowing your body to process everything.
Of course, exercise is a good productivity hack but it’s also a good way of managing burn out as well. Some use it as a stress reliever or even a way to pump more energy into the work they do next.
Whatever the case is, working out allows us to focus on the specific task ahead of us. This is good because with working out it’s not mentally demanding after we convince ourselves to get into the work out routine itself.
Have A Hobby
One other strategy if burn out gets to you too much is to find a hobby that you can immerse yourself in for an hour or two per week. The key to this hobby is to have it not related to work at all. Some good examples are sports like basketball, frisbee or climbing. You can also take up something creative like sculpting, pottery, or artwork if that suits you.
Whatever the case is doing something outside of work can give you the release you need and can recharge you for the rest of the day or even week in some cases.
Identify What You Want From Your Work
Whether you are an entrepreneur or working for someone else, it’s absolutely vital you know what you want from your own work. I’m not talking about a broad company goal or anything like that.
I’m talking about what you really want your business to lead you to.
To help you out, I’d suggest learning and understanding the virtues of a dream company. According to a 2013 study conducted by Harvard Business Review, they found these six virtues by interviewing hundreds of executives. They presented their findings in an article here, but the findings all boil down to those six virtues. Those are:
- You can be yourself.
- You’re told what’s really going on.
- Your strengths are amplified.
- The company represents something meaningful to you.
- Your daily work is highly rewarding.
- There are no stupid rules.
No matter the size of the company, an ideal business holds at least one of those virtues. Of course, it would be ideal to have more of them, but these are all-around good virtues to have.
After all, I’m sure that you can create a lot of stress and burn out if your business does the opposite of those virtues.
Look For Support When Needed
Sometimes when you are in the heat of the moment it can be tough to stop and think of the bigger picture. I know for myself I’ve always had a lone wolf mentality and found it really difficult to get anything done.
I created a lot of unnecessary stress in my life because I wanted to do things on my own and for what? A little bit of pride? These days I think it’s more important to look for help if you need it rather than to push it away.
Again, spend some time building relationships and establishing new ones.
When you learn to lean on and rely on other people from time to time, you can remove a lot of stress and avoid burn out too. Even if it’s just talking to someone about what’s going on.
Pausing And Understanding What Burn Out Actually Is
Naturally the relationship between work and burn out is well known. Work too hard and you get stressed and you get burn out eventually. For a while, many people think this way, but that’s not entirely true.
While burn out is definitely work-related, what causes burn out isn’t a result of your overworking.
It’s about you being depressed.
Take the passage from Barking Up The Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong:
We commonly refer to the problem as “burnout,” but what’s fascinating is that psychologists have realized that burnout isn’t just an acute overdose of stress; it’s pretty much plain ol’ clinical depression. The paper, “Comparative Symptomatology of Burnout and Depression,” said, “Our findings do not support the view hypothesizing that burnout and depression are separate entities.”
In other words, when work becomes frustrating or draining we start to demoralize ourselves. This triggers a sense of overwhelm which we feel is burn out. After all, we placed ourselves in a state where we can’t do much. We’ve given up.
But that research also showed that when we have a connection with our work – paired with optimism – we can become resilient and persist.
Optimism is essentially another form of grit while burn out is the flip side.
Pay Attention To What You Say
Our words carry weight and like every other strategy I’ve mentioned, your mindset is valuable and will steer you in the way to avoid problems.
As a general rule, you want to avoid being negative and start to embrace positivity. One of the most common ways is to practice affirmations.
Remind yourself that when bad things happen, they’re temporary.
Make a note that some things are out of your control (like the weather or stock market) and you’re okay with that.
And above all, remind yourself that things aren’t always your fault. Yes we make mistakes that can have ripple effects but the entire blame isn’t always on you every single time.
Write A Manifesto
Similar to the virtues I mentioned above, we all need to have a purpose for why we work. Burn out can certainly creep up on us when we start to lose that purpose or we doubt our ability to reach it.
Before you get to that point, one good way to avoid all this is to write a manifesto. Or even a note.
Use that note or manifesto to outline the goals or the things you want in life. Treat it similarly to a vision board and use it as a reminder, a checker on your goals, and a motivator.
Make Others Laugh
Of course not at you if you can help it, but laughter is one way to keep ourselves sane. It can break a lot of tension from an otherwise serious situation. Laughing is also a great way to reduce stress and getting it in a group can help lower stress all around.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Accountability is a concept we know of but not everyone practices. I for one know the difficulties of it and it definitely is a challenge. That being said, it’s one strategy that will help to avoid burn out.
How does it do that?
Remember that burn out is actually you being depressed with your work. As such in order to make any kind of change in your situation, you need to change something. Whether that’s your mindset, your attitude towards the work, or merely finding something else.
All of those actions require us to be committed at some capacity. In other words, we need accountability in order to hold ourselves accountable to make the changes we want in our lives.
Have Less Excuses On Burn Out
And on the same note, stop making excuses and be honest with yourself. By making excuses, you’re pushing away growth and potential and clouding it with something else. I know this full well from my personal experiences. In fact, I’m still struggling with it to some extent at the time of writing this.
Mind you it’s not severe, however, I’ve been more honest with myself. There are days where I’m lazy and don’t want to do work. As a result, there have been some times where I missed out on minor events.
Either way, the fact is if you want to accept responsibility and to be accountable, you’ll need to train yourself to have fewer excuses.
Beat Burn Out
When we understand how we work and begin to tackle the mental issues, burn out becomes less and less of an issue. When we spend time to understand ourselves and address our other needs we begin to grow and better manage ourselves.
To avoid burn out is to work within ourselves and around the things that we value in our lives. Remember that and you can avoid this issue forever.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon