Avoiding burnout for lone workers

Starting up in business can be a busy time and often, for lone workers, long hours are put in which can be crucial to getting through the start-up stage. However, if the long hours continue for a period of time, is it a sign that a re-assessment of the business needs to be done – for the sake of the business and the owner. Burnout will almost certainly lead to business detriment or worse, failure.

Business owners may think it’s all too easy for someone to suggest taking time out – then who will take care of what needs to be done? Who will keep it all going?

Well, whilst taking a week or two off can be problematic at times, building time out into the working day on a regular basis will help maintain a level of calm so that even if there are long periods of time between holidays or time off work, it is tolerable.

Here are a few suggestions to help avoid burnout:

Efficient time management – setting a blueprint of work for the day with clear deliverables helps set an agenda and focus for the day, preventing time being spent on dithering from one task to another, interspersed with unnecessary fretting over small issues that can become consuming if not managed. Breaking the day into manageable chunks – such as two-hour slots – can negate the ‘I’m so busy I don’t know where to start’ syndrome, which becomes an obstruction to actually starting anything.

Set limits and conditions of work – this is important for yourself and customers/clients. Having clear working hours and boundaries and staying true to these from the outset is important to avoid ending up trying to please all of the people, all of the time. That usually results in failure as unrealistic tasks are set and can actually mean letting someone down because of being over-ambitious in the first place. When it comes to working hours, stick to those hours for customer and client communication. It can be all too easy to give in and respond to emails as they come in throughout the evening, but that sets a precedent and will always be expected.

Get out of the office to spark creativity – quite often, the office environment isn’t conducive to creativity. Taking a brisk walk, going to a local coffee shop and staring out of the window, watching the world go by – or even sitting on a park bench and enjoying some of nature’s sights and sounds – can work wonders in sparking new thoughts and allowing for some creative thinking. Creative thinking is actually the linking of thoughts and ideas to come up with new solutions, so taking time out for thought is crucial.

Seek help – there are so many business functions these days that can be outsourced on either a short or long-term basis, to provide support when it’s needed. Whether outsourcing finance functions, administrative work or using freelancers to help with workload and delivery of solutions/services/products to customers, it’s certainly worth exploring and utilising.

One of the most important ways to avoid burnout is not to be too serious. Whilst running a business can be a serious task, finding ways to make it more enjoyable is the key to a happier life and a less-stressed existence.