Everyone feels it from time to time. Tired, unfocused and mentally fuzzy, it’s easy to give-in and let your productivity plummet. But, as an entrepreneur, your company is what you make it. If you are tired and start to slow down, your company starts missing opportunities to gain market share, and loses focus.
If you’re determined to push through burnout and keep fighting, I’ve found the following strategies help minimize the pain and maximize productivity.
The first thing I do when I arrive at my office in the morning is sit down with my To-Do list. I keep it simple. One Google Doc, labeled “To Do”. I can access it from my phone, tablet or computer. And, it allows me to mentally focus and gather my thoughts.
Seeing my tasks, laid out before me, allows me to completely focus and organize my day around the things that are important; instead of wasting the day on things that suck up resources, but provide little lasting value.
“When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.” -Michael Leboeuf
One of my key strategies to avoiding burnout is listening to my gut instincts. If I start to feel like the project I’m working on is dragging me closer to burnout status, I hop to a different task. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, it gives me a mental break without losing productivity.
For example, I work out every day. If I am creating a report, or updating guidelines for how we handle customer concerns, I might take a break and workout for 30 minutes. That break gives me the mental boost of a workout, and a break from my desk. Then I return, refreshed and ready to knock-out the task at hand.
As a people person, I love interacting with our customers and team. To get away from death by a thousand emails and phone calls, I enjoy working alongside our team on the projects they’re completing. M Rafiq calls this “Leading from the trenches instead of a command post miles away.”
By stepping outside of the confines of my office, I’m more accessible as a leader. The time in “the trenches” allows me to see our company from my employee’s perspective. And, even more importantly, I get the in-person reaction from our customers on how well our team is delivering on our promises.
Getting away from my computer screen and getting some facetime is an instant stressbuster. I feel like what I’m doing behind the scenes is serving a real purpose, as I can see it unfolding in real-time.
My iPhone travels with me everywhere I go. In fact, if I leave the room without it, I feel uneasy. It’s a powerful tool that allows me to be virtually present with our entire team. I feel isolated if it isn’t in my hand, in my pocket, or sitting on the table in front of me.
One of the best things I can do for my mental health is schedule an hour where I completely disconnect from all electronics. For that one hour, I’m revoking the permission I’ve given for people to contact me on-demand via my electronic leash. And, during that hour, I’ll go for a walk or do something mentally and/or physically stimulating.
During this daily hour, I’m free to reconnect with family and friends in-person (being totally present). And, the absence of constant pings for attention from my pocket allows me to relax and think more deeply.
If you’re stressed and trying to cope with burnout, while still maintaining the intensity level of your team, take the time to organize, shift focus and unplug when necessary. A little destressing in the short-term can prevent a total meltdown in the long-term.