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Burnout: the silent small business killer

Is your passion for your business flailing? Do you feel like no amount of rest restores you from exhaustion? Do you feel overwhelmed and want to crawl into a hole and forget about the world? Then you may be experiencing burnout. It is time to sit down and take an honest assessment of your life and decide how you will recover because burnout does not have to be a permanent fixture in your life.

What is burnout?

According to the World Health Organisation(WHO), burnout is an occupational phenomenon. The ICD-11 definition for burn-out is a syndrome which occurs when chronic workplace stress is not managed successfully. There are three parts to burnout. They are:

  • feeling exhausted or that you have no energy;
  • increased negativism or cynicism related to your job or feeling distant from your job; and
  • reduced productivity in the workplace.

Through this definition, we can see that burnout can have a seriously negative impact on your business and it’s bottom-line but what can you do if you feel you are experiencing burnout?

Here are nine steps to overcoming burnout.

1. Step away

You need to plan a day or weekend away from your office. You should unplug any communication with the office. During this time you should take stock of your business and what are the things which are stressing you out. If you can change the stressors in your life, you should do it.

2. Get organised

Do you have papers lying all over your desk? Do you know where to find your latest bank statement? You should ensure that all your daily administration is filed away properly so you can access it easily when required.

3. Make a list

Write down everything you need to get done and then tackle the first three tasks. When you have completed those you can move on to the next task or rest. By completing the first three task you set out for a day, you will feel at ease when you rest.

4. Automate or delegate tasks

If there are tasks which you don’t have the skills to do or which seem to be menial then you should delegate or automate them.

5. Exercise

Your body needs to move to stay healthy. You should schedule a time in your diary to do exercise you enjoy. This could be going to the gym, running or ice-skating. By doing exercise, your body will release endorphins which will help to elevate your mood.

6. Eat well

Have you ever put the wrong petrol in your car? Hopefully not. But if you don’t eat well, your body won’t have the nutrients to operate at its peak. Therefore it is important to eat good healthy food and make sure you take time away from your desk to eat your meals.

7. Set office hours

When you started your small business, one of your desires might have been that you would have more flexible time to do what you want with your time but you have ended up working longer hours and your weekends aren’t relaxing anymore. You should consider creating office hours for your business. This will help you to manage the expectations of your clients and family, and you will be able to relax knowing that you have worked the hours you set out to work for the day.

8. Plan time to rest

You should plan time to rest and relax away from your business as often as you can. The ideal plan is to set aside 30 minutes a day to do something you enjoy and also to plan a longer time of rest and relaxation every quarter. This should be a time when you unplug from your business. You can also use it to brainstorm new ideas for your business. But it should be a time where you do things which bring you joy.

9. Sleep well

Sleep is critical to your well-being and your mental health. By sleeping well, your brain has time to categorise the events of the day and store them away. Research shows that if you don’t have enough good sleep you will start to lose concentration and the ability to respond quickly to situations. Therefore it is important to get a good night’s rest.

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