If you’re in charge of your own business, you know that the stress and importance of daily tasks can be overwhelming. While working all day may net you a short-term gain in new clients or even new revenue, it can also lead to serious long-term consequences like burnout or even a complete lack of motivation. Staying on top of your game is essential for running a successful business, and you’ll need to know exactly how to avoid the burnout that’s seen so often in the startup world. Here are three essential habits you should work on to sidestep burnout.
1. Write Your Daily Goals — Really
You might already have a to-do list on your computer, but the act of physically writing your daily goals down on paper is far more rewarding. In fact, some studies have shown evidence that people who write down highly descriptive goals were almost 42% more likely to achieve those written goals.
There are two main reasons that the physical act of writing goals works so well when compared to digital to-do list creation. First, the act of writing is far more permanent and time-consuming than typing on a computer. You’re forcing yourself to find a pen and paper and deliberately write long-form sentences on your goals. That’s when your list of goals is physically entrenched — it exists in a tangible form. You can’t exit the to-do program or power off your computer to avoid it, so it acts as an accountability tool.
The second reason ties in with writing sentences. Creative visualization, the creation of mental imagery pertaining to a specific idea, is a key component of achieving that goal. Since writing takes longer than typing, you have more time to visualize the task that you’re writing about. Research has shown that creative visualization has myriad effects on your mental health. One of these effects is the increased chance of success at the task you envisioned. If you use visualization while writing down your tasks, you’re far more likely to actually complete that task.
2. Learn to Detach
One of the biggest struggles in any job, let alone running your own business, is knowing how to step away for a period of time. If you care deeply about what you do, it can be hard to resist the temptation to keep working at all times of the day. You may find yourself checking your work email immediately as you wake up, or perhaps you may decide to answer an unexpected business call after eating dinner. But the stress of constantly being on — and always having to plan for your business can lead to quick burnout. It’s far healthier to have a distinct time when you’re working and along with a distinct time dedicated to yourself, your family, and your friends.
It can be challenging to break away from the always-on mindset, but it is possible. The most successful method of stepping away from work is to declare a block of time on your calendar as work-free. You can even pair this with the previous writing tip by penning a block of time into your schedule that is for you and you alone. This means turning off your phone, silencing work emails, and doing something you love that is not work-related. Grab a novel, catch your favorite TV show, or get a drink with friends. The itch to grab your computer might be intense, but over the first few weeks of forming this habit, you’ll find that you’re more productive at work and happier throughout the day.
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3. Adopt a Flexible State of Mind
Do you believe that success as an entrepreneur is the only way you can achieve your full potential? It’s quite possible that this mindset may be part of burnout. A 2018 study surveying hundreds of entrepreneurs showed that long-term entrepreneurs who believed that this was the only job path possible were far more likely to burn out than those who thought there were multiple career paths they could take. While this study is entirely correlational, it pinpoints some aspects of the entrepreneurial lifestyle that could be improved on to decrease burnout chances. For example, those who exercised daily reported higher levels of satisfaction, as did those who took time away from work for family and relatives. Take the time to note the fluidity of hours and aspects of your job — this can help you understand where you can improve non-work aspects of your life, which will help you focus more at work and not experience burnout.
Creating and running your own business is one of the most difficult lines of work. However, maintaining that business once you’ve managed to establish it is often overlooked, though it is another monumental task. The habits outlined above should be a solid framework for you to base at least part of your entrepreneurial life around, keeping you happy and productive with a lower risk of burning out.