Many of the most prosperous businesses in the world have not gotten to the pinnacle of success because their leaders know how to work 20 hours a day. Sure there are some entrepreneurs that consistently burn the candle at both ends; some even burn it in the middle as well. Those are the type of leaders that typically find themselves struggling to keep up the pace, however. The thing those businesspeople don’t know is that harder and longer isn’t always better. In fact, understanding how to avoid burnout and keep the passions raging is a skill that will get you much further than anything else. Remember the ole’ saying, “Work smarter, now harder?” It’s not just a catch phrase.
Nobody is debating the fact that starting a business takes a lot of work. What I am saying, however, is that the importance of knowing your limits and maintaining self-awareness is equally as important. So, how can you throw yourself behind your business idea and still stay ahead of burnout? There is obviously no exact formula, but there are some common strategies that you can utilize.
Keeping yourself fresh and sharp will prevent your focus, creativity, and problem-solving abilities from waning as the weeks and months pile up. There is a big difference between being physically present and having all of your mental faculties firing consistently. The following tips can help you do more than just show up physically.
Take a lunch break
Seems easy, right? Now be honest; how many days do you either eat at your desk so you can continue working or skip meals altogether? Just because you may have days where you can’t fit in an entire 45 or 60 minute break doesn’t mean that you have to abandon it altogether. Even if you can only spare 20 minutes, put the phone down and turn off the computer. Do something fun, take a walk and breathe in some fresh air, run an errand – anything that changes your scenery and gives your brilliant mind a break.
Deliberately do things that don’t involve work
In addition to making a conscious effort to take a lunch break, continue that concept into your work day and work week. If you find yourself working late more often than not, force yourself to schedule a fun activity once or twice a week. Take your spouse out for a surprise meal, invite your children to the zoo. Leisure time activities are very important if you want to develop and maintain some assemblance of work/play balance. Most of us work hard so we can build a better life for ourselves and our families. Don’t lose sight of the big picture.
What kinds of things can you do to pamper yourself? No, it doesn’t need to be a spa retreat or expensive vacation. Unplug all of your devices for the weekend and have a stay-cation. Despite your greatest fears, your company will not dissolve if you can’t be reached for a day or two. Put someone else in charge and delegate. Catch the big game or rent an afternoon of movies. Have fun!
Create a stress-free zone
If you work in a big office, be a good role for the people that work for you. Showing them that taking care of yourself mentally and physically will help all of you avoid burn-out. A happy and healthy workplace is almost always more successful. Designate a stress-free zone. Encourage everyone to take necessary breaks and relax. Purchase some recliners for the break room. Play soft music or install a television. Create a rule that prevents work discussions and instead encourages frivolity. Even small breaks will serve as refreshers and keep the creative juices flowing throughout the day.
Set realistic goals each morning
Learn how to prioritize. Everything doesn’t need to be completed in one day, and you shouldn’t even try to do so. Make a list of things that have to do be done daily, weekly, and monthly. Delegate tasks that can be handled by your co-workers or subordinates. Be realistic. What can you accomplish during the course of a normal work day? Set limits for yourself and stick to them. That doesn’t mean you are lazy or are a procrastinator. It simply means that you understand that business success is a marathon, not a sprint.
Drink a ton of water
Getting dehydrated zaps our physical and mental energy more than most people realize. Your mood, energy levels, and ability to think clearly can all be affected by a lack of hydration. Consider investing in a water cooler or stocking the break room with bottles of water. If your body feels healthy, your mind will follow. Encourage your entire office to take care of themselves both physically and mentally.
Few things will go perfectly and you shouldn’t expect them to. Don’t be afraid to take risks and understand that failure is often a key part of business success. If you expect unrealistic performance from yourself or your business in general, you will find yourself continually disappointed and your stress levels soaring through the roof.
Revisit the beginning
Don’t forget the goals and dreams that brought you to your current business in the first place. Revisit your passions. Remember the feeling of excitement when new ideas began to develop and manifest themselves. Bring yourself back to the beginning and you will be able to recharge and rekindle that passion.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that longer hours mean more productivity. Often, it is just the obvious. You don’t need to burn the midnight oil, so to speak. Eight hours of focused productivity is far better than ten or twelve hours of mental and emotional struggle. Be kind to yourself. Find a dynamic pace and stick to it. Remember, your goal is to work smarter, not harder.