Starting your own business is exciting. At first. Then come the late nights, the odd setback. Before you know it you’re dreading Monday morning.
If this sounds familiar, chances are you’re heading towards a business burnout. But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom. By following these tips, you can rekindle your excitement and begin the day with a smile—not a groan.
Get away from the office
Leave work? Unlikely. If you’re like most business owners, the idea of taking a break sends you into a sweat. How are you supposed to leave when there is so much to do?
But here’s the good news—getting out of the office can actually help your work. When you’re stuck in the same space, staring at the same screen, thinking about the same problem, it’s easy to hit a wall.
Leaving the office, on the other hand, can improve your critical thinking and creativity. A US study of 2,600 employees found that 76 percent of people do their best work outside the office. And it lifts your mood. Research from Chicago’s Northwestern University discovered that getting outside and enjoying natural light has a huge effect on your wellbeing. You sleep better, you feel better and you’re likely to do better work.
So… now do you fancy a walk?
Remember the value of your work
Business burnouts are often triggered when you stop seeing the meaning in your work. According to a 2008 paper, once work loses its value, it’s hard to stay motivated. You find it difficult to make decisions, lose confidence and start to doubt what you’re doing. In other words, it’s bad for business.
If you don’t want to be the person crying to the heavens “what’s it all for?” you might want to think about defining your ‘business purpose’. This is more than a buzzword. It’s your slogan, your mantra, your raison d’etre. It explains how your business seeks to improve the lives of your staff, customers and clients.
Take Kellogg’s. They don’t define their work as selling cereal. They see it as “nourishing families so they can flourish and thrive.” ING isn’t about banking, it’s about “empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business.” So, how do you define your work?
Remembering why your work matters will help you deal with day-to-day grind and pull through when things get sticky.
Build community ties
Another good way to prevent a business burnout is by reaching out to the community. This might sounds cheesy but you’ll be surprised by the impact it can make. A study from the Center of Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for instance, found that contributing to a social cause increased worker productivity by 30 per cent.
This not only helps you–it helps your bottom line. According to the public project StoryDoing, companies that support their spin with real action outperform their competitors on almost every metric. They have greater annual growth, a better online reputation and higher share prices.
After all, working for a company that gives back in a real and meaningful way is inspiring–for everyone. When you see the real world impact of what you do, it’s hard not to feel just a little chuffed.
Develop a healthy routine
It’s a no-brainer. Working long hours, barely sleeping and snacking over your computer is not a good mix. Between the five-minute noodles and sitting all day at a desk, it’s no wonder you might be feeling a little burnt out.
To turn this around, take time out to do something physical. Studies show that working up a sweat will reduce your stress levels and enhance your mood. Need convincing? Go for a run and see how you feel afterwards. Then see how you sleep that night. Exercise has also been linked to improved sleep quality and quantity.
If you find it hard to find the time, consider swapping the train for the bike or the lift for the stairs.
There’s only so much you can juggle. Putting yourself under too much pressure does not end well, for anyone. You start to cut corners, feel overwhelmed and pay less attention to issues until they become major headaches.
The solution? Delegate. Share the load. Don’t feel like you have to do everything. You’ll be a much happier person if you’re not writing emails – while researching, making a lunch reservation, sorting out the payroll, all while trying not to go crazy.
Set yourself a list of priorities and hand over everything that is not urgent. If you can’t delegate to a person, look into apps and online tools. After all, why spend hours on mundane admin tasks if someone else or something else can do it for you?
Set realistic expectations
Setting unrealistic goals can also be a downer. Why are my profit projections so off? How could I miss those targets? These sorts of questions can kill your motivation and leave you feeling a smidge despondent.
When setting objectives, try to find a happy medium between overly ambitious and not ambitious enough. Not sure how? Use the SMART method as a guide. In other words, set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. The idea is to create goals that will kick-start your business not kick you down.
Find the support and expertise you need
As anyone who has spent hours trying to format a spreadsheet will tell you, sometimes you need a helping hand. Accepting this is your key to preventing a business burnout.
Trying to complete tasks completely foreign to your skill set normally leaves you frustrated and fed up. (Just ask the person who doesn’t know Excel.) Best practice is to play to your strengths and turn to others when you’re dealing with something outside your comfort zone. Perhaps this means hiring an accountant or finding a graphic designer to help you with marketing collateral. There may be a cost involved but ask yourself what is more costly: wasting time doing something you don’t know how to do or hiring someone with the expertise to do it for you?
Look for inspiration
Sure, you may be making a profit but if every day feels the same, what’s the point? Routine and day-to-day drudgery, are not the best work conditions.
But there are ways to shake things up. Play music at work. Rearrange the office. Buy a groovy chair. Go wild. Make your office your palace. Or at the very least a place you like.
Don’t stop with the office. Look out for ways to introduce new ideas to your business. Read industry magazines. Go to conferences. To keep you and your business healthy, look to the future and ask yourself, what else is possible?
For more content in this series please visit the Officeworks page.