When you decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, you were probably drawn in by the “be your own boss,” “have time freedom,” and “work on your own terms” messaging.
And yes, at some point, and with a lot of elbow grease, you will get there.
But what no one talks about is just how much unpaid work is required upfront. Or the number of hours you’ll spend building the systems and platforms you need to get your business up and running.
Or the number of times you’ll want to throw in the towel and go make lattes at Starbucks instead of running your own business. (I mean no offense to anyone working at Starbucks- I literally couldn’t function without you, and I imagine your job must be extremely difficult if you have more than one customer with a crazy complicated order like my grandma’s…)
The point is, if you’ve been at this whole entrepreneurship thing for a while, you’ve likely given some serious consideration to going back to a “regular” job. You know, the kind of job where you show up at a specific time, leave at a specific time, and someone else pays you to do it.
If you’re nodding your head along in agreement, let’s stop for a second to consider- why is that?
You see, many of us entrepreneurs hit a point along the road where we’re putting in the work, a lot of work, and are starting to burn out.
Yep, I said it- the dreaded burnout. And before you roll your eyes and go back to checking your email, hear me out. Because if you’re in the eye-rolling camp, chances are you’re cruising right along at a speedy pace toward burnout, and you either don’t see it coming or are planning to white-knuckle your way through it and hope to escape unscathed.
Either way, consider this your yield sign.
Burnout is real, and when you’re working from home, especially when you’re an entrepreneur, it can be challenging to work through. Even if you absolutely love what you’re doing, you’re not necessarily immune to burnout, so it is essential to recognize the signs of burnout as well as how to recover from—and then prevent—it.
How To Recognize Burnout As An Entrepreneur
Remember that feeling of dread you used to have about your 9-5? One quick way to recognize that you may be experiencing burnout is if you are starting to identify any of those old feelings coming up when you’re working on your business.
If you feel exhausted all the time, find yourself snapping easily at others, or have a hard time getting and staying focused on your work, you may be experiencing burnout. Being an entrepreneur working from home can certainly be isolating and lonely at times, leading to burnout.
It’s worth mentioning here that depression can have similar symptoms or may even be confused with burnout. Please note that it’s beyond the scope of this blog post to dive into that, but depression is a serious medical concern, and if you think you may be struggling with it, please reach out for professional help as soon as possible!
6 Ways To Avoid Burnout As A Work-From-Home Entrepreneur
Once you’re clued into the fact that you are either already experiencing burnout or are headed in that direction, all is not lost. There are some key things you can do to start combating burnout in order to turn things around.
1. Set work hours. Ok, I will admit, this was the hardest one for me. As a busy mom of toddlers and a baby, I’m an expert at fitting in work around the chaos of my busy life. I’ve pretty much mastered the power of 15-minute intervals to get stuff done. BUT, my business coach recently advised me to set work hours and I decided to give it a try.
Honestly, it’s been kind of freeing. I set up my expectations for myself (1 hour during nap time and 2 hours after bedtime), and I’ve found that I’m significantly more productive in less time. Because I know I’m only giving myself a total of 3 hours per day to work, I am able to focus better and get more done in those hours than if I allowed myself the entire day.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to have a whole day to work- but that’s just not the reality of y life right now. If you do have the luxury of more time, by all means, use it. But set a schedule so that your work time can become predictable and has a specific start and end. This will help you beat burnout and stay more productive.
2. Unplug when it’s time to unplug. So right along with setting work hours, being sure to actually stop working when it’s time to be done will really help you stop burnout in its tracks.
If you’re constantly checking emails, replying to clients, or checking in in other ways, you’re not really clocked out. This can lead to burnout and frustration from your family or those around you.
One of the main reasons we entrepreneurs make the leap from the 9-5 to entrepreneurship is to have more freedom. But you’re actually a slave to your work if you don’t set clear boundaries between work time and “off” time. Maintaining those blurred lines will lead to burnout, but making a clear decision to unplug (and then respecting that boundary) will help you avoid burnout.
3. Reconnect with your why. If you’re feeling like a hamster on a wheel when it comes to running your business, it’s a good idea to take a step back ad reconnect with your why.
Why are you working from home in the first place? Why are you bragging about being your own boss if that boss is even tougher on you than the one you left to become an entrepreneur in the first place? If you haven’t thought about any of this in a while, take some time to recall why you wanted to start your business in the first place.
If any of those reasons aren’t a reality in your current situation, spend some time thinking about where you are versus where you want to be. If those two points aren’t as close as you want to be, what steps can you take to start to close that gap?
4. Make time for self-care. You can’t continue to run on an empty tank, no matter how much you think you can. (Ask me how I know…) And as a busy entrepreneur, it’s important to take time to recharge. Self-care doesn’t have to look like bubble baths and massages (although I won’t say no to either!).
It can be as simple as getting in some physical activity with an afternoon walk, fueling your body with nutritious food, and getting a good night’s sleep. Taking care of your health—mind, body, and soul—will help you to recharge and refresh so that you can bring new energy to your work and ditch the burnout.
5. Find an accountability group. Here’s a little-known fact. Jan and I actually met in an accountability group that spun off of a big-name blogging course we both signed up for. Even though neither of us ended up building a business the way this course taught, one thing we both did was stay consistent with showing up for our accountability group.
This started out as a randomly assigned, peer-led group, but over the past 2 years it’s turned into a team of supportive friends and fellow business owners and we look forward to our weekly coffee chats. Having an accountability group or a partner is great for accountability (obviously!), but it can also help keep you from burning out.
It’s a safe space to celebrate the wins and process the setbacks you face as a work-from-home entrepreneur. And being able to chat with others who “get it” can really combat those feelings of isolation that creep in along the way.
6. Find freedom from overwhelm. I don’t even have to describe to you what overwhelm is because I’m sure just hearing the word made you think of all the things on your to-do list that never ends, sitting there staring at you and filling your stomach with that dreaded almost sick feeling.
Living in a constant state of overwhelm, whether in your business or in your everyday life, is putting you on the fast track to burnout. But how do you crawl out from under its crushing weight? That’s where the 12-week Freedom From Overwhelm course comes in.
By using the proprietary FREEDOM system, you’ll discover how to break free and love your business (and your life) again without the constant stress of feeling frazzled and overwhelmed.
My favorite part is that this course is made up of bite-sized pieces with practical strategies you can actually implement. Because let’s face it- the last thing you want to do if you’re already overwhelmed is to take a big, huge time-consuming course. So if you’re ready to stop white-knuckling it through your days as a work-from-home entrepreneur, check this course out ASAP!
It’s Time To Stop Normalizing Burnout
Here’s the thing- just because you knew exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned burnout does NOT mean it’s normal. There is no prize for being the most stressed-out or for working the most hours without breaks.
As a work-from-home entrepreneur, it’s important to recognize the signs of burnout and then actively work to avoid it. These six tips are exactly what you need to stop feeling frazzled and start feeling the true freedom this entrepreneur life offers. I’d love to hear your favorite ways to avoid burnout too. Comment below and share what you do to recharge!
Andrea is a military wife + busy mom of three young children. She’s a big fan of coffee and glitter, and when she’s not writing, you can find her buried under a pile of snuggly kiddos. Andrea has a passion for helping other busy moms in business learn how to balance both of these roles with grace. She writes about this on her personal blog, sparklewithgrace.com.
Andrea is also a freelance writer for hire who specializes in creating compelling content and copy for small businesses, bloggers, and solo entrepreneurs. You can learn more about her writing services at andreafrey.co.
Nice article Andrea!
Very helpful to know that burnout is indeed not the normal, although in these Covid work-from/at-home times, it might be expected. It’s definitely hard when you’re being pulled from so many angles, and you have to wear many many hats. Accomplishing it all is not possible, and trying to tread water to stay afloat is not sustainable. I appreciate your input!