Planning Helps to Prevent Burnout

Congratulations. You started your own small business. It’s a lot of fun being your own boss. You have big plans for the future, and you are living the dream.

One thing to realize now is that there are only 168 hours in a week. Sleeping, shopping, laundry and other personal chores and appointments take up about 68 of those hours. The other 100 hours will now be dedicated to your business for the foreseeable future. No matter how passionate you are about your business, working 100 hours a week is a recipe for disaster. Because we try to “do it all,” small business owners are especially susceptible to burn-out. Luckily, there are some simple steps to help us avoid it.

Take it from someone who has been there. I opened my business in 2002 and spent all day Monday through Friday looking for work. Then I spent my nights and weekends doing the work. I easily put in 100 hours a week. At the beginning, it was energizing and a lot of fun. But soon, I realized that I needed a break, and my family needed me to have one, as well. How is a small business owner to take a break?

Take Time for Yourself
Start by planning to take some time off to be with your friends and family. Start small with an afternoon or a single day. If you are taking a whole day, simply tell your clients and customers in advance. Trust me, they will understand. If your business must be open for the whole time you are gone, have a trusted employee or friend oversee things for you. It’s a similar feeling to leaving your child with a babysitter for the first time. After one successful outing, it gets more comfortable.  

Unplug for the Day
Make an effort to turn off your telephone after work hours and when spending time with family and friends. This will help ensure that your attention is not diverted back to the office. Also, consider turning on your email’s “out of office” message when you are on vacation. In this message, you can give the email and or phone number of a contact person who can help in your absence. You can still check e-mail periodically, but learning to trust this new system will give you more free time without leaving your clients unattended.

Schedule Time to Plan
If you run your own business, you are in it for the long haul and have to think long term. It’s next to impossible to think calmly while in the hustle and bustle of your daily work. Consider calendaring a time slot each day or each week for reflection and planning. This way, it’s sure to get done, and you won’t feel like you have to ignore another task to do so.

We are human beings, and we need time to decompress. The important thing is to know your limits so you do not allow yourself to reach the burnout stage. Start planning for some time off now. Do it for yourself and for your business.

Bob McKenzie is president of McKenzie HR, a Jacksonville, Fl – based human resources company. He is also a member of the Florida Small Business Resource Network, an organization of professionals serving small businesses across Florida.