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Burnout is very common among entrepreneurs and even among ambitious professionals. I have tried burnout many times over the years. As a founder of high-ambition startups, I had many goals that I was determined to achieve, but the result often meant I was overworked, leading to exhaustion.
Unfortunately, exhaustion can often come without warning. If you’re very passionate about your job, like me, many times you don’t even feel like working. This makes you spend more time at work than is healthy.
Statistics show that entrepreneurs tend to sleep less and work more hours a day. A Small Business Trends report said 70% of employers and the self-employed work beyond bedtime. Elon Musk says he worked 120 hours a week. Some entrepreneurs work more than 18 hours a day. The result of overwork comes at a huge personal cost, so let’s explore how to avoid it.
Related: Understanding entrepreneurial exhaustion (and how to deal with it)
Burnout doesn’t just affect professionals
Spending too much time on any activity is not healthy. Whether it’s professional work or sports, housework, or even video games, excess leads to exhaustion, stress, and a compromised immune system. The result can be minor or major health problems such as headaches, fatigue, anxiety and even putting yourself at a higher risk of cancer. In addition, exhaustion and overwork can lead to a clouded judgment that causes business or work opportunities to be missed, not to mention its effect on family and marital relationships.
Aside from health and relationship costs, there is also the cost of productivity. A train cannot travel fast forever. Finally, there is a breakdown. For workers, this comes in the form of exhaustion or illness that slows down or completely stops your work. You can lose many weeks after exhaustion. Heart health can also be affected.
For these reasons, remote workers and entrepreneurs must regulate their work so as not to be overburdened.
Related: 7 misconceptions that lead to exhaustion
How to identify and prevent exhaustion
From my experience, burnout goes from a workaholism, a byproduct of becoming a workaholic. You feel like you have to do something, to do something. Soon, your mind looks blurry and productivity drops, but you can’t stop working. Many times you are just busy and get almost nothing at this stage. It is followed by muscle aches and exhaustion. And yet, you may not be able to stop working because you have become addicted to it. Many professionals become so addicted to work that they don’t feel like going on vacation and even working on the weekends.
The best thing you can do is avoid exhaustion by limiting the number of hours you work. You can do this by setting work time limits and taking regular breaks during the day and especially at night and on weekends, and taking regular vacation time. By creating a work schedule with regular breaks and vacations, you avoid becoming a workaholic who is the forerunner of burnout.
If you see signs that you are becoming a workaholic (i.e., you need to keep working without resting or stopping), the best thing you can do is stop, take a break, and relax.
Depending on the amount of exhaustion, the rest period can be from a few hours to days and even several weeks for the effects of exhaustion to go away.
Related: 3 ways to avoid entrepreneurial exhaustion
Main strategies to prevent exhaustion
If you need some ideas on where to start on your journey to prevent exhaustion, here are my suggestions:
- Identify the most important tasks and focus on doing them first.
- Set goals. Each task should bring you closer to achieving your main goal.
- Differentiate between income-generating and non-income-generating activities. Revenue-generating activities, such as talking to a potential customer, making cold calls, or offering services, should be a high priority. Non-revenue-generating activities include tasks such as posting on the company’s social media or updating the company’s website.
- Don’t spend time on your computer / tablet / smartphone unnecessarily. Use these devices for a purpose, for important tasks that need to be done. Otherwise, avoid them. It’s easy to be busy with these devices, with so many activities available online, even business-related. And that uses up your energy even more, which can lead to exhaustion. When you are away from the Internet, you can focus on the work that is important to your business. Otherwise, you may find yourself busy with unimportant tasks.
- Delegate the work that others can do.
- Limit the time you have access to the Internet, such as not having WiFi access. You spend a lot of time on the internet, on social media or browsing news or YouTube / movies and these things reduce work-life balance. Not having unlimited internet access will ensure a more balanced life.
Burnout affects productivity and mental health. It can even have long-term effects on job skills and professional progress. Therefore, for a healthy, balanced and stress-free life, it is important to prevent exhaustion by having a relaxed work schedule.
Related: Are you experiencing burnout? Here’s how to fix it.