Business owner burnout happens to the best of us.
You know how it goes: you’re working your butt off as a new entrepreneur. You’re doing different types of work on a daily basis. You’re marketing yourself consistently.
Everything seems to be going swimmingly.
But, somewhere along the way, you push a little too hard.
Whether it’s forgetting to have a work-life balance or churning out so much content that you might as well be a machine instead of a human, your brain suddenly turns to mush.
You’re tired. You’re struggling to get motivated. You feel like a slave to your routine.
Goodbye, healthy lifestyle. Hello, business owner burnout.
10 Signs That You’re Experiencing Burnout
First things first, if you’re currently experiencing business owner burnout, there’ll be some tell-tale signs.
1. You Have No Idea What Day of the Week It Is
Is it Monday or Tuesday? Are you supposed to be at work or is it playtime? Were you supposed to catch up with your new client Denise today or tomorrow?
The truth is, you’ll struggle to summon the answers to these simple questions if you’re feeling burned out.
Why? Well, simply put, your brain is overloaded.
As a result, you’ll feel all over the place and struggle to recall important information.
2. You Feel Anxious and Stressed
Usually, you’re a happy worker.
But when you’re experiencing business owner burnout, every little thing seems to stress you out.
From looming deadlines to replying to your Instagram DMs, it all starts to feel too much.
And if you’re the 1 in 4 of us who already suffers from mental health problems, you may find that your anxiety and/or depression monster chooses this moment to rear its ugly head.
3. You’re Doing Everything Last Minute
When you’re feeling burned out, even if it’s not your usual style, you might end up getting flustered easily.
For instance, I’m typically super organised. But when business owner burnout flares up? Not so much.
I become a bit like the Swedish chef from The Muppets trying to complete even the most basic tasks.
It’s probably amusing to watch, but not so amusing when you’re the one who can’t get their proverbial sh*t together.
4. You Experience Memory Loss
Whether it’s a client call, a doctor’s appointment or your Mum’s birthday, you tend to have multiple forgetful spells when you’re a burned-out blogger.
In fact, you may start worrying that you’re ageing prematurely.
However, you should know that experiencing memory loss when you’re stressed is completely normal. It’s just kind of frustrating.
5. Your To-Do List Feels Never-Ending
When you’re truly experiencing business owner burnout, it’ll feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Essentially, you may find that you’re able to cross a few things off today’s to-do list, only to have to add a few more things onto tomorrow’s.
In other words, the number of tasks you need to finish daily never seems to go down.
And it will be nothing short of infuriating.
6. Your Brain Buzzes Before You Go to Bed
As well as having manic days when you feel burned out, you’ll also have disrupted nights.
Why? Well, because you won’t be able to switch off your brain before you go to sleep.
This will either result in temporary insomnia or poor quality of sleep.
(And believe me, this sucks when you wake up the next day looking like you belong in the cast of Night of the Living Dead.)
7. You Have No Time to See Your Loved Ones
If you’re feeling burned out, you’re likely to be working more. Therefore, it may seem like your spare time is non-existent.
You may even go for weeks without seeing (or even texting) your loved ones because you feel like you just don’t have time to socialise.
And this can be difficult as human beings who rely on social interaction for pleasure.
8. You Feel Like You’re in a Constant Rush
Between running a business, exercising and maintaining a home, everything feels rushed when you’re experiencing burnout.
Time will go fast, whether you’re working or not.
In fact, you may feel like you rarely get a moment to yourself just to relax. Not fun.
9. You Don’t Enjoy the Time You Get to Yourself
Business owner burnout is a burden because even when you do have a moment to switch off, you find it practically impossible.
For example, I usually enjoy a hot bubble bath after a long day of content writing for a living.
But when I’m burned out, it causes me more stress to be sat in a tub for 30 minutes when I could (and probably should) be doing something more productive.
10. You Continuously Yearn for Time Off
The ultimate sign that you’re feeling burned out is when you spend precious minutes daydreaming of having time off (when you’re supposed to be working).
Fundamentally, you find it challenging to maximise your efficiency because you feel seriously uninspired.
You may even long for the weekends (or for the moment you can finish work).
And this will come as a surprise when you’re used to loving your job so much that you don’t have to clock-watch.
Top Tips for How to Overcome Burnout
Once you’ve identified the signs of business owner burnout, you can take the necessary steps to overcome it.
1. Have a Break
The first thing to do in the short term is stop whatever you’re doing. Come back to it at a later time.
The idea is to let your brain have a rest so that it will work even better once you get back to the task-at-hand.
And it sounds simple, but this really helps.
2. Slow Down
If you keep going at the same pace that’s causing you to burn out, you’ll never be able to shake the stress away.
Instead, slow down. Give yourself less tasks to do during the day and more time to complete them.
And don’t ever let your schedule get so full that you feel overwhelmed.
3. Finish Your Day Early
One thing that I started doing when I got recurrent bouts of business owner burnout is finishing my day 30 minutes early.
Sure, it doesn’t sound like it would make much of a difference, but it actually does.
And that’s an extra 30 minutes of time I can spend relaxing. Winning.
4. Extend Your Deadlines
If you’re freelancing for other businesses, you may find yourself agreeing to tight deadlines to put money on the table.
However, you don’t need to push yourself unnecessarily. Most companies are pretty flexible with dates.
Therefore, if you need an extension, all you have to do is ask.
5. Take Some Time Off
Make sure you’re having plenty of time off. In the UK, the average company allows 20 days of annual leave.
Remember this when you’ve worked ten months straight and you refuse to take time off because you’re so busy.
The truth is, everybody needs an occasional holiday to reset and unwind. And the beauty of being a business owner is that you can take one whenever you need to.
6. Limit the Time That You Check Your Emails
Sometimes you can be “in the zone” working when an email notification pops up and causes you to lose your concentration.
Or if you’re feeling particularly unmotivated due to burnout, you may look for distractions in the form of your email inbox.
To eliminate this, reduce the time that you check your emails to once or twice a day.
And try to focus on one thing at once to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
7. Put Down Your Phone
As a business owner in the digital age, you have to be on your phone a lot.
From checking emails on-the-go to answering calls, creating new social media content to answering comments, a smartphone is a necessity to survive and thrive in the industry.
Having said that, try not to be on your phone any longer than you need to be for work.
And limit the time that you’re on it when you’re not working to successfully avoid business owner burnout.
8. Move Around Daily
When you’re a busy entrepreneur, it’s tempting to stay glued to your computer screen and desk chair all day long.
However, it really helps if you move around a lot.
Whether this is stretching every couple of hours or doing 30 minutes of cardio every day, try to exercise as much as you can.
Not only will working out allow you to sleep better, but it will also help clear your mind and prevent future bouts of burnout.
9. Reward Yourself in Small Ways
When you’re stressed, it can feel like your life is constantly work and no play.
That’s why it’s important to reward yourself after you’ve completed tasks.
Whether this is in the form of watching your favourite Netflix TV show on your lunch break or eating a chocolate bar at the end of your working day, treat yourself little and often.
After all, you deserve it.
And being able to look forward to these daily treats will give you the motivation you need to get tasks done. Fact.
10. Practise Self-Care
Lastly, make sure you’re looking after yourself at all times (and especially during a burnout flare-up).
Remember you’re only human. Don’t try to do the impossible. And forgive yourself when things don’t go according to plan.
If you do end up pushing yourself, it’s important to take the time you need to get yourself back on track mentally.
Failing to do this will only result in a longer recovery time. (Trust me, I’ve been there.)
Beating Business Owner Burnout for Good
In a digital age where we suffer from information overload on a daily basis, it’s easy to experience business owner burnout.
That said, as soon as you’ve had it once, you can start recognising the signs and putting preventative measures in place.
And even though your business is your baby, always remember that your mental health and wellbeing comes first.
At the end of the day, without you, there wouldn’t be a business.
Have you ever experienced business owner burnout? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments!