You can’t love what you do when exhaustion has begun taking its toll. For control freaks, workaholics, and business owners who just can’t seem to delegate, it can be hard to make yourself step away and take a break. But if you want to continue being a successful, motivated person who’s in charge of your own life, you have to take care of yourself, too. Here are four signs that you’re nearing burnout.
Your health is taking a turn for the worse
You’ve got a cold that’s lasted three weeks, you always feel exhausted, and your medicine cabinet is your best friend. If you can’t remember the last time that you felt well, it’s probably because you’ve been burning the midnight oil a little too often. Have you eaten a nutritious meal today? How about this week? Has exercise gone out the window? You’ll know that you’re approaching burnout when you’re pushing your body beyond what you can handle.
You are having a hard time focusing
Do you sit down to get work done and find yourself staring blankly into space? Are you constantly tempted to check social media instead of writing that article that’s due tomorrow? Do you find yourself losing your train of thought and having disjointed conversations where you’re not really communicating? Consider that you may be pretty close to burnout. While it seems like just plowing ahead is the right way to proceed with a gigantic to-do list, you need to recharge before you can give 100 percent to your business again.
Your lack of boundaries is making you feel resentful
You can’t seem to say no to that one client who never pays you on time, even though you don’t really enjoy working for them. You tell a customer you can have a order ready, even if it kills you. Maybe you agree to work on a holiday because your partner pressures you into it. If you have no boundaries, you’re on the fast track to feeling completely spent. Unless your clients, family, and friends like being snapped at every time they try to talk to you, it’s better to set firm boundaries about holidays and time off, and to stop working for clients who drive you crazy every time. This is gonna cause burnout, so you need to set boundaries.
Work is your entire life
Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you LIKE being on the clock 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Maybe you’ve fallen into the trap of glorifying business. If people ask you how you’re doing, you immediately begin bragging about how it’s all work and no play. Every freelancer or small business owner (ok, everyone, really) should have a calendar with time scheduled in for being with the people you care about and just relaxing. These appointments with yourself should be as nonnegotiable as any meeting with an important client would be. As famous former basketball coach John Wooden once said, “Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.” It helps to think about what you’d like the ideal to be in your work-life balance and then carefully guard time with your family, your friends, and yourself.
Whatever you decide to do in life — take a moment and actually decide, then stick with your plan. Burnout and exhaustion are difficult to recover from if you go too far down. It is easier to take care of yourself along the way than to pick out scorch marks later.