February 13, 2015 ~ Deb Lee
The pain of burnout is obvious: You just can’t get motivated.
You feel worn down, ineffective, and hopeless. You’ve likely experienced burnout at some point in your life and though you may not always be able to pinpoint when it’s about to attack, you do know how it feels. Sometimes it builds over time, while other times, it seems to jump out of the blue and blindside you.
[blogoma_blockquote ]Burnout is a cunning thief that robs the world of its best and its brightest by feeding on their energy, enthusiasm, and passion, transforming these positive qualities into exhaustion, frustration, and disillusionment. ~PsychologyToday.com[/blogoma_blockquote]
Burnout doesn’t always come from the same source. And, for business owners, it’s not unusual for feelings of extreme overwhelm and stress to develop as a result of trying to manage everything in their company by themselves.
But, all is not lost. There are several tech tools entrepreneurs can use to keep burnout at bay. Today’s post will address three common reasons for burnout (listed below), and share tech tools you can use to help keep stress and burnout under control.
1. Burnout Problem: Overwork
Burnout as a result of overwork is probably not a surprise because, as business owners — particularly those with startups — we can often wear multiple hats all at the same time. You might often be working extremely hard on a particular project or goal, or maybe you’re launching a project and pulling a few all-nighters than turn into one too many. All of this can add up to both physical and mental exhaustion.
Overworking likely also means that you’re probably not getting enough sleep, taking vacations, or working on your favorite hobbies — each of which can sustain and rejuvenate you. It could also mean that you’re not taking frequent breaks during the work day, and that you’ve been sitting for far too long at your work station.
Of course, there’s an app to cure that.
Tech Solution: Schedule Downtime
A simple tech solution is to schedule downtime. You’ve probably heard that items that get scheduled, get done. So, fire up your digital calendar or tasks management app and enter in reminders to take:
Keep in mind that you probably need to add reminders to work tasks that need to be completed so that your plans can go off without a hitch. For example, after scheduling your vacation, you might start checking air fares a month or two before you are scheduled to go away.
You can also use an app like MyMinutes app set a minimum or maximum (“at least” or “at most”) timeframe for working on a task. So, if you tend to eat on the run, set your lunch break for at least 30 minutes so that you don’t rush back to work. You can repeat tasks and see a weekly streak view. MyMinutes will also give you some friendly nudges by sharing inspiration quotes to keep you working toward
2. Burnout Problem: Lack of Progress
If you’re working as hard as I just described and are seeing positive and successful results, you may feel that it’s worth the effort you’re putting out. If, on the other hand, you’re working extremely long hours and not seeing the return on your time and effort, you’re likely to get burned out quickly.
The whole point of having goals is to be able to achieve them, yes? That’s why you set them in the first place. So, making progress is essential to staying motivated to continue working towards your goals. Otherwise, it would be like wandering aimlessly without a direction. This can certainly lead to mental fatigue and be extremely frustrating.
To fight burnout that comes from frustration because you’re not progressing the way you want to, you’ll need to pay close attention to things you ARE getting done. Sometimes, you take mini-steps forward and they go unnoticed because they seem so small. Or, perhaps you don’t give them the attention they deserve.
Tech Solution: Track (and Celebrate) Small Steps Forward
Instead of ignoring small steps forward or forgetting them because you’re super busy, keep a log of your accomplishments. Tracking progress can really be as simple as having a daily set of tasks that you cross off your list, especially those tasks that get you closer to your overall goal.
You might have firm metrics that you’re focusing on, like increased website traffic, dollars earned, client calls made, or even pounds lost. You should know your starting point and how close you are to getting to your ending point or final destination.
So, go ahead and make a habit of recording your accomplishments at the end of each day by entering them in a digital notebook, like Evernote, or tracking them with an app like Wonderful Day. Or, simply fire up an Excel spreadsheet to capture them.
If you want to focus on SMART goals, then have a look at the Goals on Track app.
SMART is an acronym for goals that are:
Goals on Track is geared toward helping you clarify and create SMART goals. The app takes you through a 7-step process that helps to keep your goals — and your progress with those goals — in front of you.
Did you notice that one of those steps includes keeping a journal? That way, you can “record your journey, stay motivated and be accountable for your success.” And, you can regularly check your charts and graphs to review your progress. Remember, knowing where you’re succeeding can help you figure out what you need help with so you can go out and get some.
3. Burnout Problem: Working with a Broken Goal
You might not realize it, but you might be working extra hard on a goal that is broken or that has expired. It may have been a good goal at one point, but now, not so much.
If your goals are no longer exciting to you and don’t capture your attention — if you’re no longer passionate about them — it is possible that you need to revamp them (or erase them altogether and create new ones).
As you start the process of fixing a broken goal, you’ll have to flesh it out, turn it upside down, look at it from all angles to see where adjustments can be made. By doing this, you put yourself in the best position to regain your motivation and stop stress in its tracks.
Tech Solution: Map Out Your Goal
Many people find vision boards to be powerful tools and the driving force toward success in life. A vision board can help you to visualize, connect to, and achieve your goals. You can use pictures and/or words to represent those goals, and creatively construct your board so that it will motivate you to seeing your plans through to completion.
Another helpful tech tool is a mind map. Mind maps are diagrams with an idea in the center, and branches leading off it to various directions. So, if you were to consider re-branding or changing the services your small business offers, the core idea could be “New service offerings,” with a branch for “possible services,” another for “potential targets” (i.e, who you’ll market to), and another branch for “virtual vs in-person services,” and so on. Each branches can also have sub-branches with the end result being a visual representation of your thoughts.
Mind maps are helpful when brainstorming ideas, and this can be a good starting point for you if you don’t have a clear vision of what you want or where you want to be. Or, if you simply want to restart the process and explore new options.
With most applications, you can store your maps online, and you won’t have limits placed on the size and number of your maps. And, of course, you can use mind maps to flesh out both personal and business goals.
These are just a few tech tools you can use to curtail or even stop burnout from happening altogether. Though it may seem that burnout might last forever, the good news is that there are steps you can take to turn things around. You will likely need to make significant changes, but you won’t have to go it alone. Once you figure out the cause burnout, be sure to use the right tools to help you banish it forever.
If you have a favorite tech tool that helps you reduce stress, please share it in the comments.