“I am burned out. I can’t take this anymore.”
Words I can’t believe left my mouth when I was a 25 year old sales executive working at New York’s hottest new startup Uber in 2017.
Regardless of your industry burn out is real and taking care of your mental health has never been more important. You can’t go 100 miles per hour, 100% of the time. You will crash.
This is exactly what happened to me. I was a few years removed from college, drowning with student loan debt, back against the wall and I had the opportunity to work as hard as I could to stack cash. A great opportunity, one most people could only dream of. But 100 cold calls a day, countless rejection and the grind of commuting hours to your job back and forth daily takes a toll on anyone.
I’m now six years into my entrepreneurial journey and running two companies that will do 8 figures in revenue in 2023.
Work life balance has never been more important as I’m constantly working to push the company forward while teetering the line of eventual burnout. My system won’t work for everyone and you 100% need to put in the reps before you deserve a break. Could I work harder? Absolutely. But it would mean sacrificing the things I love the most.
Over the past few years I’ve developed a system for avoiding burnout, which has led to several non-negotiables:
1. My weekly workouts always come first.
Nothing is more important during the work week than breaking a sweat, disconnecting, and having me time. I have been working with a trainer 1vs1 three times a week for the past two years and he holds me accountable from a commitment and diet standpoint. Regardless if you’re into the gym, yoga, pilates, long walks, boxing. Find out what is the one thing that makes you disconnect and stay healthy. Make this a priority. Without your health everything else falls apart.
2. Avoid unnecessary meetings.
Every Sunday night I go through my calendar and cancel every meeting that I don’t want to attend or can avoid. Are there already 3 employees in that meeting? Great, why do I need to be there.
3. Stop feeling guilty.
Your time is your most precious asset. 99% of the time you don’t owe people anything. Say no. Get your time back.. According to a Forbes article about Entrepreneur burnout, one of the best ways to avoid burnout is to schedule non-work-related time for yourself. Let go of that guilt and stress. To seek out and destroy stress triggers is so important to completing even the smallest tasks.
4. Actually close the laptop in the evening.
Ecommerce and running a company is a never ending sprint. I could legit work 24/7 for the next 10 years of my life and I’ll never run out of things to do. You have to be disciplined and know when to draw the line. For me that’s structuring work like a “real job” and working roughly 9-5 daily. Sure there are days where I’m grinding late or getting an early start, but that’s because I’ve built a life that allows that flexibility. I do my absolute best to shut the laptop down at 5PM daily to be present with my wife and family.
5. Be present with your loved ones and put the phone away.
It’s one thing to be sitting on the couch with your partner. It’s another to have your head crunched down, face in the phone scrolling for hours. There’s nothing more important than spending time with the people you love. I fortunately got married to the girl of my dreams last October and I want to spend as much unoccupied time in her presence as possible.
6. Calendar things out.
Make a list of priorities each and every week. Put them on your calendar and set them to be done at a certain date and time. Keep yourself accountable. Shopify agrees with this one, it’s key to setting yourself up for success is to prioritize time management, delegating tasks and sticking to a schedule.
7. It's okay to go on a vacation and disconnect.
Even if it's just for 72 hours. I promise you the work will be there and the business will not fall apart. If so, you have much bigger issues. Vacations are different to everyone. If you’re in debt and have your back against the wall, maybe your disconnection is driving to a friend's house, crashing in their guest bedroom and drinking White Claws in their pool. Don’t make the excuse of “I don’t have money” or “I don’t have the time”, figure it out and put yourself first.
I hope you enjoyed this and found it helpful. It was rather therapeutic and helped me also put things into perspective.
If you enjoyed this I write a weekly newsletter on entrepreneurship called Crossed Commerce. You can subscribe here.