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BFS Capital Blog

13 Tips for Small Business Owners to Avoid Burnout

May 20, 2017

It’s Monday, and you already feel like you need another weekend.

If you own a small business, that’s probably because you didn’t really GET a weekend, but even if you did the stresses of the work week have you burnt out before you even get to hump day. And you’re not alone. A report from the American Psychology Association shows that 70% of Americans experience some sort of debilitating stress.

So how do you keep from burning out completely while keeping your business afloat? Here are 13 ways business owners can avoid burnout.

Set Up a Morning Ritual
Begin the day with something … coffee, a slow-cooked breakfast, a deep conversation with your pet snake. Whatever. As a business owner, you should use your morning ritual as a time to think about non-work related things and remember that you are a person outside of your business. It’ll set the tone for a relaxing rest of the day.

Make Time for Your Other Interests
See all that equipment collecting dust in the corner of your garage? That stuff you look at every morning and think “I remember camping. That was fun!?” Dust them off. Your interests are what make you who you are. They also get you thinking about something other than your business so your mind can relax.

Focus on Somebody Else 
Especially when you run a small business, so much focus is on “ME”. What do I need to do? Where is my business going? But taking some time to plan something for your spouse or child, or even send a long letter to a friend with whom you’ve lost contact will allow your brain to think about something other than work. In addition, connecting with someone else can give you an intrinsic sense of happiness.

Practice Responding With Relaxation
Though the words “relaxing” and “owning a small business” are rarely seen in the same time zone – believe it or not – the stressed, angry reactions you typically experience are your own doing. Make a point of responding to the daily crises you experience with a deep breath and a relaxed approach. It won’t make the crises stop coming, but it will stop you form burning out on them.

Unplug When Possible
Contrary to what you may believe, the world will actually NOT end if you don’t look at your business’ emails for a day. And your business will probably survive as well. A huge part of why we experience burnout is the inability to escape everyone who needs something. Taking a day every week, or maybe just a few hours, with no outside contact does wonders and allows you to recharge you battery.

Figure Out What’s Important
As in, prioritize. Know how much you can legitimately take on, and no matter your high ambitions understand that you only have so much time. And then devote that time to what’s important. HINT: Not everything that’s important relates to your business.

Take Breaks That Involve Leaving the Office
A break isn’t really a “break” if it’s just walking over to the kitchen to get a Diet Coke. The change of scenery from where you work is important in letting your brain know it’s time to let go. So go ahead, walk to that Chipotle down the street for lunch instead of stuffing it in your face in your office. And for goodness sake, leave your phone alone while you’re out of the office.

Develop a Creative Outlet
This could be a blog, it could be painting in your living room, or it could be writing rap lyrics in a notebook preparing for your imminent hip-hop stardom. Whatever it is, find something for your brain to do that lets you be creative, and doesn’t involve your business. Again, these outside activities are key in maintaining your own identity.

Have Self-Confidence
Part of why burnout happens is that internal voice saying “How am I going to get all this done?!?” Shut that voice up with a healthy dose of self-confidence. You can – and will – complete everything that must be done. And with that confidence comes relaxation.

Learn How to Cope with Tasks You Hate
Nobody, not even professionals, enjoy doing taxes. Or payroll. Or cleaning the bathrooms. But these tasks must be done, and you can’t let them ruin your life. Break them up into smaller, simpler tasks that you don’t tackle all at once. That way you don’t burn out on one unpleasant thing and can spread the misery out over a few days. Except cleaning the bathroom.

Block Time
There is an inherent peace of mind in knowing how long something will take, and setting aside the time to do it. Try writing down your schedule for the next day the night before, getting up when you say you will, and tackling things in order. It’s far less stressful when you have a plan.

Learn to Say No
Not only do you want to try and make people happy when you start a small business, you may also have a fear of missing out. But know that not every social invitation needs to be accepted, nor does every request for a professional favor. Yes, it’s good to be in people’s good graces, but many also understand when you tell them you need a break.

You will anyway, but you can always use more. And even if you feel like you’re going from the time you get out of bed to the time you crawl back in it, if you do everything we’ve laid out above, you should have eight hours left to get some much-needed sleep.

Running a small business can be very stressful, so it’s important to do what you can to alleviate stress and properly manage your work day. By following these tips, business owners can avoid burning out while running a successful business.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/