It’s one of the biggest struggles we face as entrepreneurs: how do we manage our time while juggling work, family and a personal life?
Perhaps an even better question is, how do we manage our time between these things AND excel in all these areas at the same time?
In a previous post on preventing burnout, I shared tips from other successful entrepreneurs so you could learn about what they do to prevent burnout on a daily basis.
In this post, I want to help you implement all of their advice: I’m going to share the process I use, along with the 7 Habits I believe can help you with preventing burnout.
What preventing burnout looks like for you
There are several ways to prevent burnout, and of course the route you choose will depend on your lifestyle and the various things you may (or may not) have to consider.
As an example, how I prevent burnout may look a bit different than someone who is married with a family. Likewise, if you have a nine to five and are starting your entrepreneurial venture on the side, the ways in which you prevent burnout may look different from someone who is a full-time entrepreneur.
One thing is for sure: regardless of your lifestyle and the various things you may or may not have to consider, we all want one thing: to excel in all areas of our lives while staying healthy and happy.
Burnout comes in many shapes and sizes
The ultimate burnout
Have you ever stopped in the middle of a work day, or during a big project, or 20 minutes into a meeting, and thrown your hands up and just said “That’s it!” and then walked away? I have.
For me, that’s the ultimate burnout: you don’t even care anymore and all you want to do is get out of the situation you’re currently in.
The calm burnout
I’ve also very calmly taken a step back from whatever situation I’m in (literally) – then taken a few deep breathes and counted to five… 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – then, sucked it up and kept on working.
This is what I consider a calm burnout. You know you’re at your breaking point, but regardless, you’re not willing to give up on what you’ve started.
Burnout comes in all different shapes and sizes, and it can be rather sneaky. While ultimate burnout is a full shutdown, calm burnout can be even more dangerous because you’re allowing it to compound without dealing with or experiencing it fully.
In either case, it’s important to take time out and recognize the situation. Don’t let these occurrences compound: instead, face them head on so you can learn how to prevent them in the future.
The first step: Recognizing burnout
The first step we need to take is the most important: it’s your ability to recognize when you’re reaching your hot zone.
Once you’re able to recognize this, you can start to pinpoint what it is that drives you to that zone.
What pushed you over the edge?
Was it an entire week of non-stop projects being thrown at you?
Was it a huge deadline that you procrastinated on?
Was it doing too much of the stuff you don’t enjoy doing and not enough of the stuff you do enjoy doing?
When you find yourself in these hot zones (or even approaching them, which you’ll be able to recognize with practice), take a step back and ask yourself: what led me here?
Recognizing what it is that leads you to your hot zone will help you prevent putting yourself in the same situation in the future.
Preventing burnout: 7 Habits
Now that we’ve talked about:
- How preventing burnout may look different for everyone depending on your individual situation;
- The different shapes and sizes that burnout can have; and
- The importance of recognizing when you’re approaching your hot zone so you can start to identify what types of situations lead you there…
Let’s look at the 7 Habits that can help you prevent burnout day in and day out.
1. Prioritize & set expectations
I have a lot going on, you have a lot going on – everyone has a lot going on. The trick is being able to prioritize your life (so to speak) so that you know – and everyone around you – knows what your priorities are.
In doing so, you’ll be setting expectations – not just for yourself, but for your family, friends and co-workers, too. This will make it a lot easier when it comes time to say “no” to that, and “yes” to this.
This is especially important if you have a family, and extra especially important if your family (significant other, kids) doesn’t fully understand what entrepreneurship is all about.
Now that you know exactly what your priorities are, and you’ve set those expectations with your family, friends and co-workers, it’s time to set up a schedule – and stick to it.
I’m a huge fan of “theming” your days. That means you set aside entire days to work on specific projects or tasks, or that you might even set aside as a family day. Here’s an example:
As you can see, each day has a theme, whether that be writing, podcasting, webinars, community management or catching up. In your case, you might have an entire day that just for family, or that’s just for YOU to do the things you love outside of work.
Since I started theming my days, my productivity has skyrocketed. I’m no longer jumping from task to task in a haphazard or frantic way. When I know I have an entire Monday to work on writing, I’m not distracted by any other tasks.
The same goes for family and personal time. If you know that every Thursday morning you wake up with your kids, cook them breakfast, and then help them get ready for school, then you’re setting yourself up for success by making that a part of your schedule.
3. Workout & eat right
You’ll also notice in the image above that scheduling has taken to a whole new level. Yes, that is an appointment with myself to go to the gym or on a run at 6:30am every morning.
Living healthy isn’t just about balance with work, family and personal time – it’s also about giving your body the energy it deserves through working out and eating right.
I find that working out in the morning helps set me up for a high-energy day; it not only gets the blood flowing, but it also helps jumpstart my creativity and my drive.
In addition, I constantly remind myself that “you are what you eat”. Chew on that next time you’re waiting in the drive thru line!
We are slowly killing our bodies with the processed foods that, yes – are quick and easy – but that are not good for us. If you’re not feeling great on the inside, how do you expect to feel great on the outside?
If you fuel your body with the right types of food, then you will notice a difference in the way you feel, in your productivity and your ability to do more in less time.
4. Just say no
There comes a time when you have to start saying no.
Don’t feel bad about it; instead, let it empower you to actually be creating the day to day that YOU want to live. Isn’t that why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
This goes back to prioritizing and scheduling: next time you’re wondering whether or not an opportunity is a “yes” or a “no”, remember that every time you say “yes” to something, you’re saying “no” to something else. So, according to your priorities and your schedule, what will you get rid of in order to accept the opportunity? If you can’t find anything you’re willing to get rid of, then it’s a NO.
Stop living according to others’ schedules, and start living according to your own.
5. You time
Whether it’s going on a walk, out to the movies, getting a massage, hiking, or kicking butt at your favorite hobby, setting aside YOU time is integral.
It might be at a certain time every day, or it might be once a week. Whenever it is, it’s important to set aside time to do the things you love doing that don’t have to do with work, family, friends – they just have to do with you.
6. Turn off
This is something I struggle with BIG TIME. When you’re working from home and loving what you do, it’s really tough to turn off. But I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve caught myself approaching my hot zone for this very reason.
I recently decided to take my own advice, and every night about [5:30] I know it’s time to turn off. For me, that transition or trigger is dinner time. I love to cook – it’s relaxing, it’s somewhat mindless, and I enjoy creating amazing meals.
Every night, I know that once I’ve started dinner, it’s time to check out of work and into just being home.
7. Get away
Sometimes you’ve just gotta get away. You can make it a “staycation”, a “workcation”, or a full-on vacation! Whatever you want it to be, getting away from your regular surroundings and out of your every day routine can payout HUGE when you’re feeling the heat of burnout.
Routines are amazing – I love having a routine – but letting yourself get out of that routine for just 2 or 3 days can provide you with the reset you need to come back to your daily routine strong.
Your next most important step
Take some time today – preferably right now – and evaluate where you are on a scale of 1 – 10 with burnout. How can you leverage some of the tips and lessons above to help steer yourself in the right direction? Who can you talk to in order to let your feelings around burnout OUT so that you don’t compound those feelings inside?
Take the time to reflect on your current situation as it relates to burnout. You deserve that time.