While everyone dreams of running their own business, few people appreciate just how much work it takes to make it a success. There’s certainly nothing wrong with long hours, dedication and pressing deadlines, but working too hard for too long can be counterproductive and even bad for your health.
When hard work leads to physical, emotional and mental exhaustion, you face a real risk of burnout. Add to that the stress associated with concerns about the competence and value of your work and you have serious problems.
But there are a few strategies you can use to avoid work overload and prevent your efforts from manifesting in all the wrong ways.
Here are our top tips to prevent burnout and improve your chances of success…
- Avoid monotony
When talking about running a startup, the picture often painted is one of a dynamic working life where every day is different. In reality, this is not always the case. Many businesses are the brainchild of one individual who works at home on their own for long hours day after day, which can naturally lead to work overload.
Having a well-balanced habit is key to breaking the monotony and preventing the feeling of burning out. Working from a series of different locations, taking time to exercise during the day and walking a new route to work are all subtle changes that can keep you fresh, creative and ready for the challenges you face.
- Don’t be afraid to spend
Startup budgets are always tight, but not buying the technology or equipment you need to work faster and smarter is the type of false economy that will hold your business back and increase your risk of burning out.
There are always solutions out there if you’re willing to look hard enough. For example,renting the equipment you need is a simple way to get your hands on technology that’ll allow you to work more efficiently without putting a dent in your cash-flow. Not only will this help you to save money, it also gives you the chance to trial different technologies before deciding to invest and purchase them.
Relinquishing control of your startup can be one of the biggest challenges business owners face. But, as the business grows, you’ll have to get used to the fact that you can’t be in two places at once, so you’ll need people you can trust to make some decisions for you.
The good news is that many startup employees are self-starters, so they don’t need micro-management to be effective. In fact, there’s a significant statistical relationship between employee job satisfaction and the levels of autonomy in their positions. This goes to show that occasionally taking a back seat will not only help you to avoid work overload but it could also empower and motivate your team to work harder and take real pride and ownership over their responsibilities.
- Identify your outlet
Everyone needs an outlet. When you’re doing everything you can to make your startup a success, free time will understandably be in short supply. However, it’s essential that even if it’s just for half an hour a day, you close the computer, turn off your phone and go for a run, take a stroll, sit in the bath, read a book, meet up with friends, or do anything that takes your mind off your work and helps you to relax.
Although exercise is a popular choice, there are many alternatives you can choose to ease your mind without breaking a sweat. The important thing is to break the pattern of intrusive thinking and give yourself time to switch off.
Learning to navigate the challenges of building a startup while maintaining some semblance of a balanced life can be nigh on impossible. However, we hope that putting these tips into practice and recognising the warning signs of work overload will help.