Back-to-back Zoom or Teams meetings. No boundaries between your home office and your home. Heightened stress due to uncertainty or overwhelm. It’s no wonder that I’ve encountered so many entrepreneurs who confess…
- “I’m exhausted.”
- “I’m tired.”
- “I just need a minute.”
- “When will this be over?”
- “I need a break.”
- “I’m spent.”
Burnout is a real thing, and it’s rampant among business owners right now. So we partnered with one of our friends Chelsie Ward of Chelsie Ward Wellness to discuss how to avoid business burnout to protect your health and how to communicate your new boundaries.
What is Business Burnout?
Burnout is emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged or persistent stress.
If you’re a business owner experiencing burnout, you probably have trouble finding the energy to complete and oversee normal business procedures – despite your best efforts. As a result, your company could be underperforming, causing even more stress to fuel the burnout fire.
Why Burnout Is More Common During a Stay-At-Home Order
Many business owners and entrepreneurs are not quick to admit when they are experiencing burnout. Afterall, we know what we signed up for! We didn’t decide to start our own businesses because we thought it’d be a walk in the park. Our work is constant and demanding, but we are committed to giving it our all because we are passionate about what we do.
“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”Simon Sinek
However, no matter how passionate you are about your company—the people you work with and serve—these unprecedented times can cause anyone to burnout. It’s not a sign that you don’t care, but rather the opposite.
As a business leader, many people depend on you. You’re responsible for livelihoods. Maybe you’re someone who is typically able to cope well with business-related stress because you have in mind a certain path forward to help others.
However, burnout is more common during a Stay-At-Home order like the one we’re currently in because things are so uncertain. This pandemic is a prolonged stressful event where solutions are not always clear. Guidelines and best practices for conducting business are constantly changing. An olympic athlete wouldn’t have enough stamina to keep pace with it all! It’s no wonder, entrepreneurs just like you are experiencing quicker rates of burnout.
So what can you do to avoid burnout without sacrificing productivity during a Stay-At-Home order?
Boundaries & Their Health Benefits
Before we get into how to communicate your boundaries to avoid business burnout, let’s talk about the health benefits of boundaries.
Better Routine → More Productivity
When things are going well, it is easier to stick to a routine. We feel confident that things are on-track even when we decide to take breaks to…
- Workout for an hour
- Meditate for 20 minutes
- Spend time with family
- Practice a hobby we enjoy
We can incorporate these things into our routine because we know from experience that at the end of the day, everything that was pressing can be accomplished.
But, once we start to feel overwhelmed, it can be hard to justify taking even a 20 minute break. When we’re stressed, the first thing to breakdown is our normal routine. You might think that skipping out on these small breaks will give you more time to spend working on increasing demands.
In reality, routines with more scheduled breaks lead to more productivity. For instance…
… A few moments of meditation each day can improve your focus and concentration.
… Daily exercise circulates blood and releases endorphins to boost your energy and mood.
… Task-switching or doing activities outside of your normal work can help you overcome blocks by promoting creative problem-solving.
Be willing to create a routine with structured breaks, so you can take care of yourself and efficiently serve others.
Have you been burning the candle at both ends? Stress can lead us to let go of our boundaries that let us rest. But sleep is incredibly important for our cognitive functioning and mood regulation.
If staying up all hours of the night seems like your only option lately, have you heard of Parkinson’s Law?
Use Parkinson’s Law
According to Parkinson’s Law, work expands to fill the time available for its completion. In other words, if you give yourself the whole day to work on a one-hour task, it will take you the whole day to complete it.
If you’re not strict about your boundaries around work hours, you’ll end up spending more time than you need to on certain tasks. If you’re working until the eleventh hour day in and day out, you’ll eventually lose steam!
Instead, use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage. Set tighter timelines for your tasks, and be strict about them! If you know you only have a certain amount of time to complete something, you’ll find a way to do it more efficiently.
This will help you get more rest, so you’ll be better prepared to tackle the big things each day.
Less Stress Due to Unmanaged Expectations
Success in any relationship—professional or personal—comes with a level of expectation. When expectations aren’t met, disappointment, frustration, and stress tend to rise to the surface.
Now is a good time to ask yourself whether your expectations for yourself and others are realistic. And no, I don’t mean realistic for a month or a year ago. I mean are they realistic for right now.
Give yourself time to reassess your expectations in light of current events. This doesn’t mean that you have to stop pursuing big things! It might just mean it’s time to pursue different things, or approach them from a new direction.
Setting clear boundaries around what you can and can’t accomplish is critical to reducing stress.
Communicate Your Boundaries to Avoid Business Burnout
Once you’ve established which boundaries you’re ready to set, it’s time to communicate your boundaries to avoid business burnout.
Tell Everyone What You’re Doing
Setting boundaries doesn’t mean you have to drop off the face of the earth without a word. In fact, you should do the opposite!
It might seem counterintuitive to talk about setting boundaries when we all feel like we should be doing more. But by being transparent about your approach, you can help others do the same.
Tell everyone what boundaries you’re setting and why you’re setting them. Highlight all of the health and productivity benefits that your non-work activities are affording you. When they recognize the value in these boundaries, they’ll be able to respect them and might adopt them themselves.
Block Off Time On Your Calendar
Don’t be afraid to block off time on your calendar. Seriously!
Even for companies like FocusCopy that work remotely 100% of the time, it can be very easy to flirt with the line of burnout.
A couple of weekends ago, we had a lot of client work to produce. Knowing that my team would be spending the weekend writing over 20 deliverables, I blocked off my calendar on Monday and Tuesday so that no one could schedule a meeting with me. I know what you’re thinking…
Lauren, that seems silly. You may be throwing away sales opportunities.
Maybe so. But, if those opportunities aren’t willing to respect what I need to be healthy now, then think about how they’re going to be when they are clients.
Establish New Standard Operating Procedures
As your boundaries and expectations change, you’ll want to keep your standard operating procedures updated too. This will minimize miscommunications and help establish routine to increase the wellness and productivity within your company’s community. If you’d like some tips about stages of SOP adaption, development, and implementation, check out this blog.
Take the steps to avoid business burnout, so you can continue to do what you do best during these stressful times.
Meet Chelsie Ward of Chelsie Ward Wellness
Chelsie Ward of Chelsie Ward Wellness has a background in applied behavior analysis. Her study of the psychology of the mind has helped her devise successful behavioral intervention techniques to help others succeed in reaching their health and wellness goals. Her career as a nurse (BSN, RN) has given her extensive insight into the conventional Western approach to health care and see firsthand the negative, systemic effects to our bodies caused by the food industry and big pharma. If you’re an entrepreneur, business leader, or just a busy professional who is struggling with some facet of your health, Chelsie can find the root to your problem and build a solution to heal yourself. Learn more about her coaching programs here.