How to Prevent Burnout for Small Business Owners

Burnout is a huge buzzword right now, because it’s a very real thing! Our society’s systems inherently lead to burnout. We are tired, overworked, underpaid, and too exhausted to figure out it’s all by design. The key to recovery and prevention is finding the solutions that work best for you, so this blog has 7 tips on how to prevent burnout — hopefully at least one of them resonates.

If you think you’re burned out, you probably are. And you’re not alone.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a mental state where you feel exhausted, mentally drained, and hopeless. It can be especially impactful on those of us who are chronically ill or neurodivergent, as the level of day-to-day energy we have simply doesn’t compare to our able-bodied peers or the standards we’re held to in the workplace.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to prevent burnout. Unfortunately, a big part of recovering from burnout is being able to rest, and that’s not always possible. But it’s my hope that at least one of these tips will have an actionable step for you to take to improve your own situation with burnout.

Step 1: Recognize the Signs of Burnout

Burnout is a condition that happens from being under too much stress. Signs of burnout can include feeling tired all the time, feeling overwhelmed, having little motivation, and feeling like you can’t enjoy your work. For me, one of the signs that I’m burning out is feeling angry and irritable.

If you notice any of these signs in yourself, it’s important to take steps to prevent burnout from happening. If you have access to a therapist, checking in regularly about stress levels is a great way to see burnout signs coming and make a plan to handle them so you don’t crash. 

Step 2: Take a Break

The best way to start recovering from burnout is to rest. Regular breaks and time off deserve to be a non-negotiable part of your routine. As much as your schedule and budget allow, take time to focus solely on resting, whether that’s a mental health day, a staycation, or a legitimate getaway. 

Breaks and rest are necessary for our health and wellness. Rest is the key to preventing and recovering from burnout. 

Step 3: Set Boundaries

Burnout can be prevented by setting boundaries — with others and with ourselves! This is especially important for small business owners because we tend to check social media or email at all hours and want to over-deliver amazing customer service. But hey, you’re a person too! That email can wait. 

It’s important to know your non-negotiables when it comes to establishing limits on how much work you are willing to do and when you are willing to do it, whether you work for yourself or as an employee. 

Step 4: Adjust Your Schedule

Adjusting your schedule can help you get more rest and recharge, which will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed or stressed. This can be difficult as a small business owner, especially if you’re just starting out. It feels like you have to do all of the things, all of the time! Here are some ways you can protect the asset (that’s you!) with scheduling tips.

1. Schedule your off time first. When you approach your calendar for the week, establish the boundaries we talked about in Step 3 by putting clear times for you to be off work directly onto your calendar.

2.  Figure out what tasks are essential to your job and which can be cut back or eliminated. Is every thing you do in the week absolutely crucial to your business’s success? Are they scalable and able to grow with your business, or are they a recipe for burnout? 

3. Know when you’re capable of working hard and when you need a break. Establish regular work hours and stick to them. This can be customized to your body’s rhythms! If you aren’t productive until 10:00am (Hello, it’s me), then don’t schedule any work before ten. If most of your client base is on the west coast and you’re in the eastern time zone, sleep in! 

4. Consider your body needs and schedule them too. Do you feel your best when you take a walk or do some yoga in the morning or end of your workday? Schedule it! Schedule your meal times and bathroom breaks too, if you’re prone to getting in the zone and forgetting them. 

5. Seek out social support. Talk to your co-workers, friends, or family members about how you’re feeling and ask them to check in on you and help keep you accountable to the new boundaries and limits you are practicing.

Step 5: Delegate and Ask for Help

Delegating tasks and asking for help can help prevent burnout. When we are asked to take on more than our usual workload, it can feel overwhelming, especially for business owners because we wear so many different hats and perform so many roles. This can lead to feelings of frustration, exhaustion, and stress. Delegating tasks can help relieve some of this pressure and allow us to focus on our main goals. Additionally, asking for help can provide us with the support we need to complete our tasks effectively. When we take these steps, we can prevent burnout from occurring and maintain our productivity.

When you’re able to, hiring an assistant for your business is a great way to start delegating the tasks that don’t need your personal touch. It frees you up to do the work that matters most, without burning you out. 

Step 6: Create a Routine

When working in a small business, it can be hard to find the time to balance work and personal life. This can lead to burnout, which can be a serious problem and throw you and your business out of alignment. Making a set routine can help you to know what to expect each day and give you a structure for your time. 

Try implementing one routine to see the impact. This could be a morning routine (journaling and coffee before you start your day), a lunch time routine (logging off the computer to really pay attention to your body’s needs for fuel and movement after being seated all day), an after-work routine (logging off at your set end of day time and doing a transitional activity), or a bedtime routine (skincare and tea!). 

Step 7: Stay Connected

Small business owners can prevent burnout by staying connected to their work and their community. They can do this by staying active on social media, attending networking events, and participating in professional organizations — but only within the limits and boundaries that make sense for your needs!

It’s important to know yourself and what your particular needs for connection are. If you’re an introverted person, networking events will be draining — maybe a Zoom mixer is more your speed. If you love connecting with people in person, then getting to know others at a meetup could be a great way for you to stay connected to your work and your community.

Burnout can happen to any one of us. You are not alone in your exhaustion and overwhelm. It’s my hope that with these tips, you’ll be on your way to preventing and recovering from burnout!

Achieve Your Dreams Without Burnout

Whether your creative dream is part of your business or a passion outside of business, self sabotage and hustle culture can keep you from your dreams. Break the rules and try a new way to connect with your passions with my free ebook for creatives!

Avoid creative burnout for small business owners with this free ebook

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