Seven things you need to know about burnout

Seven things you need to know about burnout

Shop Talk

As any small business owner knows, entrepreneurship can be all-consuming. Juggling jobs and wearing multiple hats can soon leave business owners with little time for anything else. But ignoring your mental health and wellbeing comes at a cost, and that cost is burnout.

Understanding burnout
The term ‘burnout’ was first introduced in the mid-1970s by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger while observing the overwhelming exhaustion that volunteers in a New York City free clinic were experiencing.

He described burnout as a “state of mental and physical exhaustion caused by one’s professional life”. Since then, the term has been applied to various fields and contexts, including entrepreneurship, and has become a widely recognised phenomenon, particularly of late in our post-COVID era.

Entrepreneurship is an exciting and challenging journey that requires hard work, dedication, and perseverance. However, burnout is a common problem among many small business owners who often work long hours, face high levels of uncertainty, and shoulder a significant amount of responsibility for their businesses. It’s easy to become consumed by the demands, and sometimes it feels like there’s no way out.

Not only can it have a significant impact on an individual’s health, relationships, and business performance, it can lead to reduced creativity, decision-making abilities, and work quality.

Seven useful tips to help avoid or overcome burnout

1. Reconnect with your purpose

Remember why you started your business in the first place and what motivates you to keep going. Think about the impact that you want to have on your customers, your industry, or the world at large.

Reminding yourself of your purpose can help you gain clarity, feel more energised, and focus on the big picture. By staying connected to your purpose, you can maintain your passion and enthusiasm for your work as a business owner.

2. Adopt a growth mindset

It’s important to cultivate a growth mindset and challenge any limiting beliefs that may be holding us back.

This means embracing challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than seeing them as setbacks. Failures are only feedback and a part of the entrepreneurial journey. Instead of getting discouraged, learn from them, and use the experience to improve your business.

A growth mindset can help you identify opportunities and stay motivated and focused on your goals, even when things get tough.

3. The 80/20 principle

This principle suggests that 80 per cent of your results come from 20 per cent of your efforts. By focusing on the 20 per cent of tasks that are most important, you can maximise your impact and reduce your workload.

By applying the 80/20 principle to your business, you can streamline your operations, focus on your key customers and products, and prioritise your time and resources for maximum impact. This can help you achieve greater efficiency, profitability, and overall success in your business.

4. Remember you

As a business owner, it’s not uncommon to experience a loss of identity at times. This can happen when we become so consumed by our work that we start to define ourselves solely by our business or professional accomplishments.

Entrepreneurship can be all-consuming, but it’s important to remember that you are more than your business. Take some time for yourself, to engage in activities that bring you joy and help you to relax. Maintaining a healthy work–life balance is key to avoiding burnout and staying energised and focused on your goals.

5. Systemise and organise

Staying organised can help you manage your workload and reduce stress. Make sure you have systems in place to keep track of your tasks and deadlines, and use tools such as calendars and to-do lists to stay on top of your work.

By doing so, you can stay energised and focus on your entrepreneurial journey.

6. Prioritise your self-care and practice mindfulness

Make sure you prioritise self-care activities such as exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep. Taking care of your physical health can help you manage stress and increase your energy levels.

Mindfulness practices such as meditation or deep breathing exercises can help you reduce stress and improve focus. Incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine can help you stay grounded and focused.

7. Seek support

Surround yourself with supportive friends, family members, or colleagues who can help to remind you of your ‘why’ when you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Joining a business networking group or seeking out a mentor or coach can also be helpful.

A business coach is someone who works with you to help you achieve your goals, improve your skills, and overcome any obstacles that may be holding you back—this can be an excellent way to support you and your business.

By implementing these strategies, you can reduce your risk of burnout and stay energised and focused on your entrepreneurial journey.

This article was originally published on and has been edited for brevity and republished here with permission.

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