Isn’t it strange how mundane things can bring back really vivid memories? As the burnt toast hit the trash, I remembered how burn out meant my first online business ended up on the scrapheap (nearly taking me with it).
Juggling a full-time job, family, volunteering and running an online business left me physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted. Just like toast, the burn creeps in slowly and when complete, you’re left unable to nourish yourself or anything else.
You may have already heard run-of-the-mill advice like taking regular breaks to prevent burn out. But what’s the point of stepping away from work only to be stressed that things will fall apart?
Here are five not-so-obvious ways to become burn out proof:
1. Create the right systems
Having no systems (or the wrong systems) is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, systems get a bad rap because they can be seen as snooze fests. Who’s ever heard of a sexy system? I sure haven’t!
To make matters worse, traditional systems have a sterile and stuffy image that can make some entrepreneurs feel boxed into something that’s unsuitable for their needs.
The key to making systems work for your business is to design them with flexibility, so your creativity isn’t stifled. Systems that curb burn out are those that account for the ‘secret sauce’ of how you do business. This ensures authenticity, even when your business grows. I call these flexible and personalized systems ‘productivity recipes.’ Because, just like normal recipes, you have the core ingredients and you can make tweaks to suit your business taste.
We’re all different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all business system. Productivity recipes focus on the human side of systems. They bring order to repetitive tasks while taking into account the quirks that make your business unique.
Productivity recipes stop burn out by preventing you from biting off more than you can chew, especially when your business is growing.
2. Get apps ‘talking’ to each other
Automation is another way to hand over repetitive and stressful work. Services like IFTTT and Zapier connect the apps you use to automate your workflow. In other words, they get rid of the biggest time sucks in your business.
Part of creating productivity recipes is to spot tasks you can automate. This will help your business run like a well-oiled machine and save you money when outsourcing.
Start out automating everyday tasks, like social media and email management, by finding out how the apps can ‘talk’ to each other.
Do yourself (and your health) a favour and start to create productivity recipes to see what you can automate. The aim is to drop repetitive tasks like a hot potato to reduce the risk of burnt out. Get your apps communicating to free up time to chat with friends and family.
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates
Outsourcing should be done when you already have productivity recipes in place. It’s tempting to hand over parts of your business to a VA or freelancer and forget about it, but this approach could land you in hot water.
With productivity recipes, anyone you hire will have the blueprint of how you expect things to be done. You’ll also save time getting new hires up to speed. Most importantly, your clients won’t get any nasty surprises or unwelcome changes when you grow your team.
You’ll be able to take time out to recharge your batteries, having all the confidence that your business will continue to function properly in your absence.
4. Find some cheerleaders
Being part of a supportive group is crucial to making yourself burn out proof. Informal groups, like Facebook communities, are helpful networks that can prevent you going down the burn out road.
If you’ve been working non-stop and your brain feels as limp as the lettuce in the sandwich you’ve been too busy to eat, connect with people who can identify with where you are and encourage you to take a step back.
The best groups are those that aren’t strictly business. Look for a group with dedicated days for sharing things like inspirational quotes and jokes to lighten things up a little.
Feeling like you’re the only one who experiences overwhelm can be a lonely place. Being part of a community where people share their struggles helps to provide perspective that you can achieve your goals without compromising your health.
“Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.” – Misty Copeland
5. Inject your personality into your passion
When you’re passionate about your work, it seems like you can work day and night without ever feeling tired. Of course, it’s advisable to make time for proper rest. I’ve found that, the more I enjoy work, the more I look after myself to reduce the risks of becoming ill. I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs be more productive to avoid burn out. I’m also a huge foodie. That’s why I incorporate food and drink analogies in my work because being fed and watered is something we can all relate to.
Injecting your personality into your work makes everything easier. It’s very draining pretending to be someone you’re not. If you’re already pursuing your passion, add a splash of your personality to reduce the chance of burn out.
Suffering from burn out is a serious setback to your health and business. It’s a relief to know that, unlike the burnt toast that ends up in the trash, you can make a full recovery from burn out. But why take the risk in the first place? Put in place practical measures to avoid getting burnt when the heat is turned up in your business.
It’s good to share. What do you put in place to make sure you don’t burn out? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
How do you avoid burning out when things get tough? Let us know by commenting below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com