Sure, you love your job. After all, you wouldn't be doing it if you didn't.
To find out how to successfully combat—even avoid—this phenomenon, we asked 13 startup founders from the Young Entrepreneur Council (a.k.a., the hardest-working people we know) what strategies they rely on. Here's what they had to say.
1. Take a Vacation and Fully Unplug
Vacations with loved ones will help entrepreneurs avoid burnout. It's important to put on an out-of-office message, too, and not respond to emails. Another benefit of taking a vacation is you set a good example for hard-working employees.
2. Forget Balance, Find Harmony
I think people who say it’s all about work-life balance are wrong. I value finding passion and harmony in my work by being connected to and caring about my team and my customers and making a big difference in their lives. I would burn out way faster working five hours a day at a job that was hurting my soul than I would working 15 hours a day at a job that's feeding my soul.
—Dan Price, Gravity Payments
3. Know Your Breaking Point
I think most entrepreneurs will tell you it's impossible to unplug—so burnout is almost inevitable. However, it's important to know when you're close to or at a burnout stage. Something as simple as taking a day off, going for a bike ride, or having a fun night out with friends can help to take the edge off.
4. Fill Your Day With Joy
Our business works to fill our people's day with what they love. When work feels like a job, we redirect those tasks to someone who loves them. Not a great organizer? We have a team member who is. Hate numbers? We've got someone who loves them. We are fueled with so much joy that we have a term around the company called the 'joy hangover.' When work is such a blast, burnout doesn't exist.
5. Schedule Free Time
Schedule free time on your calendar, just like you would schedule a meeting, and stick to it. It's crucial to take the time you need for yourself, even if it's just 30 minutes a day. You'll get back to work feeling recharged and inspired, and chances are, you'll accomplish a lot more than you would if you worked straight through the day.
—Evrim Oralkan, Travertine Mart
6. Travel and Change Your Environment
Traveling is the best way to avoid burnout. Take your laptop and spend one to two months working from somewhere else, preferably internationally. With the internet and cloud tools like Dropbox and Skype, there's very little that can't be done from abroad. The change in environment sparks your creativity and allows you to bring new energy into your work.
7. Pursue Your Passion
Starting a business is a time-consuming endeavor that doesn't end once things start to take off. On the contrary, the more successful you are, the more time you will be asked to contribute toward your enterprise. That’s why it’s important you focus your time and energy on doing something you enjoy and are passionate about.
8. Take a Nap
Naps are not just for children. Instead of having a second cup of coffee, sleep for 20 minutes. It's the best way to refresh the brain.
9. Work Out
When I feel so mentally burnt out from juggling multiple projects, there's only one thing that can recharge my brain and my enthusiasm—working out. It's a way to unplug and just focus on the task in front of me, whether I go for a long run or a four-hour bike ride around my city. When I'm done, I have a high so powerful that all of the stress from my day-to-day activities is gone.
10. Live With Mindfulness
Personally, I find the best way to avoid burnout is to have an ongoing focus on mindfulness rather than only when on breaks and vacations. Find ways to detach during the week in a way that works for you. Yoga and exercise work for some, while meditation works for others. Be mindful of those moments. Try to take consistent mini-breaks throughout the week to detach and re-center.
11. Find a Hobby
The best way to avoid burnout is to find a hobby you can deeply immerse yourself in for a few hours a week. I play ultimate frisbee, and when I'm on the field, I'm definitely not thinking about my company. Hobbies (such as basketball, ceramics, and climbing) can provide a therapeutic release, and you can come to work recharged and ready to go every day!
12. Build a Great Team
I used to think vacations would recharge me, but I would just come back to piles of work. In the last year, we've built our team to eight people. The quantity doesn't matter—the key is that it's a strong team. I know that whether I'm working or not, great things are being done. Feeling the support from all sides has been critical to my personal happiness.
13. Meditate Daily
Even if it's just for 10 minutes, spending the time (especially in the early afternoon) to just breathe has been extraordinarily powerful for me. It keeps me fresh and sharp, and taking self-care seriously sets a great example for the rest of the team.