The Surprising Truth About Business Owner Burnout
As someone who owns my own business, it’s very hard for me to separate my personal and professional life. Soon the line is blurred between time spent working and time spent giving myself a break. Those nights spent catching up on the latest Netflix series also involves mindless work on my own business (research, brainstorming, Pinteresting, writing - okay, trying to write) that in all honesty doesn’t help me make progress towards my goals.
I’ve noticed that this is the case with many entrepreneurs too, which can easily lead to business owner burnout. We’re working even more, but we’re not making measurable progress. We spend time during the day on client jobs, and at night, we feel guilty taking time to unwind when we could be working on our own business. Eventually, this leads to the all familiar burnout. Which is confusing, because while we thought we were working on our business, we really weren’t.
How can we feel burnt out when we can’t see the progress we were working towards?
Easy, but harsh. Aimless work does not lead to progress. Business owner burnout comes from thinking that we can fit a little extra work in during what should be our down time. Something like a Netflix marathon (I can’t just watch one episode of Jessica Jones) turns 15 minutes of actual work into feeling like we are working all night. We feel like we’ve spent a few hours working since we spread it out over a few hours.
Imagine a few nights, weeks, months of doing this. We think we are putting in long hours, but we still don’t feel in control. We get frustrated, we feel stressed out, and yet we still feel that we should be doing more.
The truth is we should be doing less, but better.
In my recent shift to adopt an essentialist mindset, less, but better is a reoccurring theme. Trying to do everything (at the same time) simply isn’t working, so how can we adopt this essentialist mindset to help with burnout?
The key here is pin-pointing what is essential in this all too common situation. We can see that working on our business is clearly essential. But we are working on it in the wrong way. We are hijacking time we need to spend on ourselves, which is also essential.
So, how can we fix business owner burnout?
Now that we know what is essential to us, devoting time to our business and also devoting time to ourselves… it’s time to separate the two. Now let me be clear, I am not talking about client work. I’m talking about the work we do on improving and growing our business. Everything from blogging, admin work, scheming up new offerings, scheduling social media posts, Pinteresting, you name it.
We fell into the slippery slope of treating the work we need to do on our business as an afterthought. It has been something that comes later when we have time. Maybe our client work picked up and we unconsciously started this dangerous habit. Maybe we honestly didn’t realize that this was a problem. Maybe we’ve been feeling the business owner burnout and haven’t been able to pinpoint why, until now.
Here’s the good news.
We can fix business burnout by intentionally making time for these things.
But how do we make time?
We treat our business like a client.
By treating our business like a client, we are making the time we spend on it less, but better. Giving our business the uninterrupted time it needs and deserves will also allow us to have uninterrupted time we need and deserve. No longer will we aimlessly work on things that are essential to our business. This will reduce mental fatigue and help us reverse business owner burnout.