Being an entrepreneur is an unconventional and exciting position. The company becomes your baby and the structure of a normal office work day goes out the window with a work schedule that is dependent on you to maintain. So with all the daily rigors of being a business owner, it’s not always easy to see when you’ve crossed the line from enthusiastically motivated to driving yourself towards what many refer to as an “entrepreneurship burnout.”
Granted, anyone can burn out, in any work position, entrepreneurial or not, and at any age. Still, business owners have a higher propensity towards a burnout due to the constant juggling act they must maintain to keep their company afloat.
So, how do you get back on that horse after a burnout or even avoid the burnout before it hits? It starts with finding out where you went wrong in your work strategy.
Bad Work Habits = Burnout
When you work for a larger company, lazy days at the office can occasionally be chalked up to ”a bad case of the Mondays.” When you’re an entrepreneur, a lazy day can compound itself, creating a domino effect of stresses for the rest of the week. If this happens, it means your work strategy needs a makeover. Here’s what to do.
Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix
Your list of responsibilities all weigh heavily in importance, so which one do you pick? Though it may not seem like it, there are things you can probably take off that list, things that can wait and things that need to take priority. As an entrepreneur, since you’re able to have a hand in everything, being able to spot what actually needs to be done is vital and identifying those priority tasks shouldn’t be based solely on which ones have a looming deadline.
Author Stephen Covey, created this a decision matrix, based on Eisenhower’s Decision Principle, in one his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The matrix is a guide to help deduce what should take priority by breaking down activities into four quadrants or boxes, weighing their value between importance and urgency. The matrix explains that priority should be given to tasks that belong in the 2nd box, a.k.a any creative tasks that require a lot of thought and preparation or any collaborations. The 1st quadrant contains tasks that are both urgent and important, while the 3rd box contains tasks that should be delegated away. Trying to figure out what appropriately belongs in 1st and 3rd box can be difficult but rewarding. Identifying 3rd and 1st box tasks allow you to leave real time for those tasks in the 2nd box. Finally, the 4th box contains tasks that should be removed from your plate. They aren’t worth your time or effort.
Know Your Limits
Deadlines can become a nerve-wracking time cruncher or a helpful guide. The difference lies in your ability to make and accept the accurate ones.
More often than not, deadlines are based on the time it takes to get something done, rather than the time it takes to do it well. Instead of working smarter, you work harder, lengthening your work hours with fewer immediate results. Worse, when you miss deadlines, you feel exhausted and unproductive after putting in so much effort. After enough time working this way you will find yourself walking the road towards an entrepreneurship burnout.
Instead, time yourself to gauge how long tasks realistically take you, and keep this as a rubric. This will be very helpful when colleagues or clients offer you unrealistic deadlines. It’s not impolite to state that to produce the best quality requires more time. Even if some deadlines can’t be moved (as can often happen), communicating that this may affect the quality of the work is important for you and your team. Reversely, if you are still able to produce a great result, you’ll know to give yourself much deserved praise.
Failures / Attempts
An assistant professor of psychology at Princeton, Johannes Haushofer, offered a new perspective on what it means to fail when he tweeted his resume of all his academic failures: from job positions to fellowships, including awards, and scholarships. His aim was to balance the scales on how people perceive success and failure, stating that many of his colleagues saw him as someone who always experienced success and that this way of thinking results in them attributing failure to themselves, rather than to the situation or circumstances.
For any entrepreneur, you’ll be attempting things frequently that will not work out. Removing the word “failure” from your vocabulary and replacing it with the word “attempt” is essential for you to continue pushing your business forward.
Building a startup is filled with obstacles and learning curves, not just with the company but with yourself. A burnout can be a chance to learn what went wrong and how the situation can be improved so you stay on your a-game without losing yourself to the stress and pressure. These tools above are just a few of many that can help you recover from a burnout and better avoid it happening again in the future.
Do you know of other tools that can help to avoid an entrepreneurial burnout? Share it in the comments below.