Being a small business owner is stressful. You’re responsible for almost every aspect of your company, from managing your staff to selling your products/services. That’s not to mention other obligations in your life also nag for your attention.

Putting all your effort and mind into your business, you’re easily drowned in busy-ness and overwork. This is where burnout creeps in slowly without you even noticing. It’s that feeling of exhaustion, futility, and hopelessness that you just can’t seem to shake.

Let’s have a closer look at burnout and how you can avoid it when running your business.

What is burnout?

According to the definition of the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout is a syndrome and an occupational phenomenon. It’s caused by prolonged workplace stress that isn’t well managed.

Burnout occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionless, and unable to meet all people’s expectations. If this situation continues, you lose interest in what you’re doing and lose the motivation to continue.

Burnout reduces productivity and drains your energy. You feel helpless, hopeless, and irritated. In the end, you may feel like you have nothing left to give.

The negative effects of burnout affect every aspect of your life, from family to social relationships. Long-term burnout affects not only mental health but also physical health.

So, it’s important to observe your well-being and avoid this syndrome before it causes more serious problems.

Causes and consequences of burnout

Burnout often comes to people who overwork and handle too many responsibilities. Sounds like a common description of small business owners, right?

Other factors that cause burnout may include your lifestyle and personality. What you do and how you see the world can play a big part in causing stress. So you don’t have to wonder why some people seem so stress-free running their businesses. There’s nothing wrong with you, it’s just everyone is different.

Long-term burnout, if left unresolved, will lead to more serious health problems such as insomnia, heart diseases, diabetes, mood swings, substance abuse, etc.

Quite a long list of problems you want to avoid, huh? Let’s see how you can prevent burnout.

How to avoid burnout when managing a small business

Prioritize tasks

We all have a million things to do. It’s easy to get caught up and overwhelmed by the number of things that need to be done.

The good news is that you don’t have to complete everything at once.

Break up your list (or whatever system you’re using to keep track of your tasks) into more manageable chunks, based on priority.

Then focus on one task at a time.

Know the causes and stressors

You may dislike some aspects of your job, and try to put them off as long as you can.

When you finally get around to dealing with them, they take far longer and are far more painful than they should be.

Identify these stressors and try to cross them off your to-do list as soon as possible.

Talk to someone

Having positive relationships in the workplace reduces stress and gets you through a tough day. When you’re happy, you’re less likely to be affected by burnout.

If you’re exhausted, try to seek support from others. Reach out to a therapist, a family member, or a close friend.

Set your boundaries

Don’t push yourself too far. Practice saying “no” to requests that take up your time.

If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the most important commitments.

Make a list of your main commitments, and evaluate every task before accepting to do it.

Set work hours

If your work allows, you can have a fixed time frame every day in which you’re available for work and people can contact you.

Set whatever hours work best for you. Once you’ve decided on a schedule, stick to it. And you’re done when the working time ends.

Although it’s hard to be completely unplugged outside of work hours, you should arrange 1 or 2 days every week/2 weeks/month to do so. You need some downtime away from your computer, phone, and emails.

Change the way you look at work

A job that makes you feel monotonous and dissatisfied may cause burnout. Business owners can’t throw away their businesses and change their jobs. But they can try to seek the interesting factors in their work.

You can research a new market, work with a new audience, or build a product that sparks your enthusiasm.

Delegate work

Some managers are hesitant to delegate for a variety of reasons. They may want complete control over business operations. Or they want to save time on explaining procedures that they can complete by themselves.

Because you don’t have all the time and energy on earth, delegation is necessary. Not every work requires precise and perfect execution.

An employee may not perform a task exactly as you expected. You may give up some control over the work. Training and explaining to the delegatee take time. But is it the end of the world?

Changing your mindset toward delegation will give you more time for important things. And your employees have opportunities to show their abilities, too.

Read more about how to delegate here:

How to Delegate Tasks to The Right Employee & at the Right Time

How to Delegate When You’re a Perfectionist

Avoid burnout by maintaining your well-being

Running a small business can be exhausting, especially when you don’t have the right systems in place. You easily experience burnout by working late into the night or struggling through weekends to pull everything together.

Although a competitive and fast-paced business environment requires you to work harder, don’t forget to take care of your well-being. Staying healthy and positive gives you the most effective state for working and leading your business to success.

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