Burnout is real. For an entire year and a half of my life, burnout and I were besties. Of course, I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time, I just thought it came with the territory of being a successful online entrepreneur. Looking back, I wish I had known what I know now, but we all wish that for parts of our life.
For me, burnout was destroying other personal parts of my life, and I didn’t even realize it until later. Burnout is like a ticking time bomb, you know you’re tired, you know you’re stretched too thin but you also feel like you don’t have time to deal with it right then so you just shove it under the rug.
Personally, I was forced to face reality. My sweet husband was being neglected, I kept skipping family events, I was gaining weight, my health was getting worse, and my mindset was absolutely terrible.
The pivotal moment came when I skipped my grandpa’s birthday party due to a large free training I was putting on. I thought I had to be there because thousands would be attending and this was a great opportunity to get new clients. Little did I know that that would be Grandpa’s last birthday party on this earth.
The day I got that phone call was the day I knew things had to change.
With that being said, what I share here will help you see if you’re on the road to burnout or smack dab in the middle of it and how to overcome it.
5 SMALL THINGS THAT WILL LEAD TO MAJOR BURNOUT AND HOW TO FIX THEM:
1. Working Long Hours
Here’s the truth: No matter how much you do in a day, there will always be more waiting for you. So, since your to-do list is endless, what’s the point of sacrificing your wellbeing trying to get everything done? We live in a society that glamorizes hustle. They say that success comes in the hustle. This brings up the question - what is success to you? Because to me success is making a lot of money and being happy in my life. It’s not about making all this money and crying in the bathtub.
Anybody who tells you that you can easily just make tons of money without working hard is lying. It takes hard work that’s for sure, but it does not require hustle.
I used to log 16-hour days seven days a week. I made great money, but I was also sacrificing my well-being. I now work what you’d call a “normal day,” eight to five, and I take three weeks off during the holidays, go on vacations, and take random weekdays off if I want to go do something. And, guess what? I make triple what I made when I was hustling.
If you find yourself in hustle mode, working long hours, here’s what you can do.
First, remember that you are your own boss. Not your client’s, not your family’s. Think of the consequences of your excessive work on your health, relationships, and goals. In the end, you are the one living with the consequences of your decisions.
Second, journal out what will happen if you keep working at the capacity you’re working at. Everyone thinks that once they hit this magical number they will stop and hire people or they will have it all together and be happier. Guess what? Every new level has a new devil. Hiring people? That’s a whole job in itself on top of what you already do. More money means more people needing you. In business there is no destination, it’s a journey. Period.
After you get those two things down, you need to decide when you will stop work each day, and then you have to actually do it. Don’t think about it. Don’t allow exceptions. Take this leap of faith and do it. In the beginning, it will be very difficult. But as you move ahead and stop working at the designated time, you’ll see that the world didn’t fall apart, the job is still there, and your stress levels will start to go back to normal. Your mood, your energy, everything will start to improve.
Next, create an EOB (End of Business) Routine. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Block off 30 minutes to clean up emails, clean off your desktop and go over your day and take notes. Then make a note of only three things that have to be done the next day. That way when you come into the office the next day you know where to begin. You can use free apps like Trello or even the “Notes” app on your phone. If you’re not emptying your brain at the end of the workday, you are literally just carrying it with you into your personal life and into the next day, and your head becomes a jumbled mess of stuff.
You can start with just choosing a “stop” time, which is where I started, and then move into creating a work schedule. For me, it was 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. For some people, that’s hard because their days vary, especially if you have kids, so just plan your week with “work blocks”. You know you have 3 hours on Tuesday - GREAT! Block that time off in your calendar. You should not be working every free hour. When looking at your schedule for the week always ask yourself if you have a mix of 50% work and 50% wellness. Wellness can be as small as time with family or going to the gym. Either way, there needs to be a good mix of the two.
As you’re working on your schedule, remember that perfect balance doesn’t exist. Balance is 50/50. Don’t focus on balance, instead focus on harmony. Remind yourself that some weeks certain areas of your life may need you more than others and that’s ok. That’s life! You just have to learn to be ok with that. That’s harmony.
For example, some weeks your kids may have a ton going on, and they need you a little more that week than your business. It doesn’t mean you don’t focus on your business, it just means it may not get as much of your time. Then the next week you can put a little more time into your business.
2. Over Consuming Media
We live in an overstimulated society, and being overstimulated can feed your stress hormones. Your brain wasn’t designed for the excessive stimulation of the world we live in today. I’m sure you’ve heard people on social media say, “I’ll be back, taking a little break!” and they usually say it in a sweet and calm way, but behind that post is probably an extremely burnt out and overstimulated person who needs to calm their mind.
Social media is an amazing tool for business growth, but the problem is it’s being used for personal and business which turns into 24/7 consumption.
Here’s what you can do if you find yourself over-consuming and not being intentional.
Please note: If you have an influx of DMs, messages, and comments that you cannot handle, you need to hire either a social media manager or a virtual assistant to help you. People worry that it will remove their voice but if you find the right person, it won’t. As a business owner, you’re the visionary and your job is to create the content, and then when it gets unmanageable it’s ok to ask for help. YOU. ARE. ONE. PERSON.
Now, if you don’t get hundreds of messages daily, you can start by turning off all notifications. I have Facebook and Instagram notifications turned off, which means I have to physically go into the app to see what’s going on. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t get anything done throughout the day.
Second, add social media to your daily routines. For example, In the mornings I have a whole routine when I come into the office. I first check messages from clients in an app called Voxer, then I check all social media comments and messages and I “swim” around and network for 10 minutes max, and then I check emails and get into my workday. I do the same thing before I leave the office at the end of the day. I’ll occasionally also do that at lunch as well.
Some days it’s so hard to not just go look. Especially on days where my energy is low. Social media releases dopamine, so when we are feeling kinda ‘blah’ we can go there and give our brains a little bit of a treat, which is why it’s so dang addicting.
On the weekends I kinda just go with the flow. I’ve gotten really good at doing what feels good to me. There will be weekends where I’m having so many conversations and some weekends where I’m just like, “I’ll get to it next week," and guess what?
My business isn’t dead.
When you focus on spending quality time versus quantity of time on social media, you show up better, you connect deeper, and you close more clients.
And one last time, don’t eat and scroll. Practice being present and never be on your phone when you’re out with friends and family. It may seem small, but you’ll notice a massive mental shift.
3. Not Caring About Nutrition and Movement
Before I get into this one, please know that I am by no means perfect with this. I’m not here to give you nutrition advice, I’m just sharing my personal experience.
I’m on my own personal health journey and it’s challenging. However, I can say that it’s even more challenging when you’re burnt out or running a large business where you’re constantly being pulled in fifteen directions, and your health ends up last on your priority list. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times my day will start out great, and then something happens and I’m like, “Screw it, let’s DoorDash something.”
People would always tell me that if I just focused on moving my body more and eating better I'd feel better and to be honest, I rolled my eyes and kept thinking “Ok Karen, but that’s not going to help make my to-do list smaller.”
Then I found myself at the doctor's office being told I had diabetes at 31… come again? That’s when I knew something had to change. If you haven’t noticed yet, it always took something bad happening for me to make a pivot. This is why I now share my story with you!
I then began making small changes, getting the hubby on board, and reaching out for help. I can honestly say that making healthier decisions and moving my body more really has helped me mentally and physically, and in the long run, it actually did help me with my to-do list!
Here’s what I did to get this part of my life in check.
Thankfully, I’m surrounded by registered dietitians and health coaches who helped me! They helped me develop habits such as planning and prepping my meals, understanding what type of movement I enjoyed, and getting my family on board.
I took one of my close friends' programs called Simply Own It which changed the game for me when it came to planning, prepping, and understanding my body.
One thing I learned was that you don’t have to do a massive workout every single day for health benefits. The goal is simply to focus on movement. I always thought I needed to do intense workouts for it to count. I learned that intense cardio just doesn't work for me as it raises my stress hormones and just isn’t fun.
So I made my movement work for me and my schedule. I schedule movement during lunch where I take the fur babies for a walk.
I also found other workouts that I loved, like yoga. I will say that I always thought yoga was more for relaxing versus actually working out. Boy, was I wrong! I did one power yoga class and I couldn’t walk for 2 days. I felt strong and empowered, which made me want to keep doing it. I also do restorative yoga two nights a week before bed to help me really release stress and tension from the week, and I highly recommend it.
These tweaks seem small, but they can make a massive impact on how you show up and handle the stress that does come with running a business.
4. Poor Sleeping Patterns
You can’t outdo nature. You need 7-9 hours of sleep to restore your mind and repair processes in your body. When you are overstressed and overworked for too long, your system goes out of whack, resulting in insomnia, fatigue, and drowsiness.
Also, whoever said you had to wake up an hour earlier to be successful lied to you. If that works for you, great! But it’s not required to be successful! I hate getting up at 5am. Ask my husband, he knows that if I’m up earlier than 7am, he proceeds with caution because you never know what mood I’ll be in. Letting my body wake up naturally, which is at 7am, I’m like a ray of sunshine and to me, that tells me all I need to know. Listen to your body, ladies!!
I’m sure I’m getting eye rolls from moms. My mom friends always give me a hard time about being able to sleep. There are definitely stages in life, and I’m no expert on having kids, but my message here is to take care of you! Sleep plays a huge role in self-care, and I’m sure it is tough to navigate as a mother.
Here’s what you can do to get great sleep:
Avoid screen time at night. HARVARD RESEARCH indicates that the blue-light on cellphones and computer screens affects the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes your body know when it's time to sleep and wake up. Try to limit screen time before bed or get some blue-light blocking glasses.
Have an evening routine where the lights are dim, your environment is calm (some soothing music is great), and your last meal is at least 3 hours before bed. Not so that you don’t get fat or anything, just so that your body isn’t still digesting dinner. I personally love reading or listening to audiobooks before bed.
Something that has really helped me is going outside first thing in the morning. The sun helps your body naturally create melatonin for a good night's sleep. Google the research on that, it’s amazing.
5. Not Having Down Time and Dating Yourself
Being busy non-stop is a common trait of overachievers. How often do you do something just for fun? What do you do during the week that doesn’t involve your goals or caring for others? If you’re anything like me, you feel like there is always something to do, whether it’s laundry or organizing your skin care products. I guarantee you that I can always find something to do. But one thing I neglected for years was dating myself.
Sounds silly, right? When my therapist told me to date myself, I thought she was ridiculous! I never did anything that didn’t make me money, make my house clean, or involve my husband.
So here’s what you can do to create some downtime and start dating yourself.
First, before I dive into this: If you’re married, remember that it’s healthy for you to have alone time to understand yourself. When you do, you and your spouse can come together and be powerful together. Thankfully, I have a husband who gives me space to find myself and supports me in everything I do. If you’re in a place where you don’t feel like you have that support, I highly encourage you to reach out to a therapist to help you navigate that area of your life. I’ve seen so many times how having an unsupportive spouse can be detrimental to your confidence and business.
Now, here’s where to start:
Make a list of things that you have either wanted to do, have had an interest in doing, or would like to try. That sounds easy, but when I did this I had no idea. Now I have a list that includes random things like painting, trying pilates, and going to a coffee shop and simply reading a book. Silly little things that I’ve seen others do and wouldn’t mind doing!
Create an “Honor Hour” everyday. For me, an honor hour is 30 minutes of movement, 15 minutes of meditation, and 15 minutes of reading. You don’t have to do it all at one time, but I personally feel like it prepares me for the day when I do it in the mornings. Remember, you’re not seeking perfection. There are days that it doesn’t happen. There are days I neglect myself, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I just wake up the next day and keep going.
Pick one day of the week where you date yourself. My husband and I don’t schedule date nights like people recommend. We just aim to have some form of quality time every single day, and on the weekends we always do something to give each other attention. But when it came to myself, I never carved out time for myself. I encourage you to claim a date night or morning for yourself. I personally love a great Saturday morning. It can be any time but it needs to happen every single week.
In conclusion, here's how to avoid burnout:
Create a work schedule
Set boundaries with your social media
Focus on fueling your body and moving more
Listen to your body and get great sleep
Remember that building a successful business doesn't require hustle. I encourage you to pick one of these tips to start implementing in your life this week. Then send me a DM me on Insta and share which one you chose!