Burnout when you work from home can be a dangerous byproduct of a fast-paced lifestyle, but it’s not something that you have to experience. Not only is it miserable to deal with, it can seriously derail productivity. I’m not talking about a case of the Mondays, I’m talking about getting to the point where you dread starting your day before you open your eyes every morning—finding zero joy in what you do for a living anymore, when it once brought you a certain level of happiness. When it comes to stopping burnout in its tracks, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Stick to a schedule and use it wisely
A good foundation is a necessary component of all structures, right? Consider a solid schedule to be the foundation of your sanity. It will help keep you on track, and let you know if you can or can’t take on more work in a particular week. This alone can keep you from toeing the ledge. Once you master your schedule and hone your time management skills, you might even find you have cut your work hours to the point that you can take on more work, or work less!
Be a good boss to yourself
Some of my best bosses over the years have taken a genuine interest in my happiness on the job, and what I wanted to do with my career, down the road. Running my own business now, I can see how smart that was of them. Not only did it make me want to work harder to please them, because I could tell that they cared about me, it was free information for them. If an employee is happy on the job, they will accomplish more and prove to be quite valuable to the company. Now, apply that to your own situation as both boss and employee of your own venture. Be your own support network and guide. Is there something you could become more efficient at, in order to reduce some of your stress? Are you doing well on your tasks for a particular week? “Leave” early. Buy yourself lunch, etc.!
Realistically map out your weekly and monthly goals, and revisit them, frequently
The cool thing about goals is that they can change, frequently. The annoying thing about goals is also that they can change frequently. Check in with yourself often enough to know if what you are doing is working. Do you feel content on your current path? Is it, and your current client load, guiding you in the direction you want to be heading in? If not, now is the best time to make the changes you need! Fate favors the bold, so move forward in the direction you need to go to keep your passion for your business alive.
Stick to your boundaries
This is a huge one. So big, in fact, that you can read more about it here. This goes for every person on earth—whether you work for someone else, yourself, or you run a household—on a business and personal level, stick to the boundaries that you should have firmly in place. People need boundaries, and will respect you more if you have them established. Don’t make a habit of taking weekend calls from clients, unless you plan to work within a certain timeframe on the weekend that you have communicated with clients, because once you set that precedent, it is hard to change.
Plan ahead, work-wise: The amount of stress reduction this provides is priceless. I almost learned the hard way, due to an unexpected medical situation. It worked out for me in the end, but try to give yourself a cushion by getting at least two weeks ahead of your workload with any projects that allow for it. This way, you are somewhat covered if life takes an unexpected turn, or if you want to spontaneously take my advice on the next suggestion. You can read more on ways to do this here.
I know, I know. This one sounds way easier than it is when you run your own business, but everyone deserves and needs downtime. Even if it’s just a few hours a week, or if you can’t take an entire day, schedule an hour or two a day where you don’t check your phone/ emails. It is freeing, grounding, and necessary.
Business Nest Egg
After taxes and expenses, let alone the amount you need to draw to pay yourself monthly for your work, you’re not exactly makin’ it rain the first few years of a new venture, but it will only serve you if you can find some way to set aside an emergency business fund. If you end up needing a new laptop, or software, or if you are unexpectedly ill, or a client pays late, having a little cash flow waiting in your business account is one of the best business stress reducers I know of! If you can identify your stress triggers and do something to help plan for them, it can make the difference between burnout, or just being a little stressed. Stress is a layered beast, and the fewer layers you have to take down, the easier it is to defeat.
We all deserve a little incentive and reward. If a full vacation isn’t in the cards, take a day trip or weekend trip, or just step away from your workspace for the day. As long as there is room in your budget, buy that book or pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing. Sometimes, just grabbing a cup of coffee and sitting in the sun, basking in my unpluggedness is enough, and it’s a cheap solution, too!
Outsource anything that you can
If you can afford to, hire a virtual assistant, or a social media manager. By releasing yourself from tasks that take up the most time, but yield the smallest return to your business, you are granting yourself permission and resources to grow, while perhaps helping someone else get their start. How awesome is that?!