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How to stay focused and prevent burnout in a startup

As a start-up, for an effective business management, prevention of burnout is of utmost importance. Majority of research on burnout has focused on employees who work closely with people, such as nurses or teachers. As more and more people are now venturing into start-up, the limited research on entrepreneurship burnout implies that entrepreneurship is being treated the same way as employee burnout.

While there are some common themes, studies show that entrepreneurs experience their work differently and, as such, experience burnout very differently. The entrepreneurs experience burnout in three different ways physical breakdown (body), mental exhaustion (brain), and lack of challenge (boredom).

Here are quick steps that an entrepreneur can take to clear their mind and build some restorative energy. As entrepreneurship is self-regulated, it is very important to have some balance and check in the schedule. The entrepreneur needs to take deliberate time away during the day by building these into their regular calendar:

  • A quick step-way. Take a ten-minute walk and step away from your workstation for a coffee run, mail-check, have a mindful cup of tea or any other numerous errands that require some physical activity.
  • A quick chat. If you have a friend, family, or a support network, give them a call and talk it out. It is better out that in and having a sympathetic ear can help you feel lighter and unburdened.
  • Exercise. Schedule time to get out of your mind and into your body. Running, yoga, swim, or any other form of cardiac or mindful exercise. This will not only help you feel better but will also improve your health outcomes in the long run.

In addition to these quick time-out tips, an entrepreneur will benefit from organising their day around their energy level. We all have high and low energy time slots during the day. Scheduling tasks by batches to align with the natural cycle of high and low energy times during the day and week will improve productivity and reduce burnout. For example:

  • After a good night’s sleep and within three to four hours of waking, it is best to focus on creative work or complex analysis or decision making.
  • Concentration work, such as learning and writing, is best suited for mid-range energy hours. This may be late morning for you.
  • Low energy and foggy hours is best suited for restorative or repetitive and familiar activities such as email, administrative or filing.

These practical steps can help prevent burnout and improve entrepreneur productivity and efficiency. If you want to know more about this topic check out our recent blog post, ‘Five Ways to Manage Entrepreneurship Fatigue’.