Self-Care for Entrepreneurs: Beat Burnout by Setting Boundaries

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Feeling like sleeping more, and doing (a lot) less? Are even your favorite clients starting to grate on your nerves a little? And are casual Fridays getting embarrassingly more casual? 

You, my entrepreneurially-minded friend, might be suffering from burnout. 

Burnout has become a buzzword over the past few years, partly because more and more people are becoming their own boss—and then working themselves into the ground. All too often, you’re placing demands on yourselves that suck your batteries dry, without taking the time to recharge the core elements that really drive your business: your spirit, focus, and smarts.

That ends today. It’s time to redefine your time. 

You need to decide what your time looks like, what it means to you, and how you want to run your business. If that trifecta doesn’t exist, it’s time to take another pass at the way time management is set up in your biz.

Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup: You can’t give your customers what they need if your source is running dry.

Here’s what you need to know about waving buh-bye to burnout. 

1 |  Self care isn’t selfish—it’s an investment.

When you run a business, it’s easy to put yourself at the very bottom of your priority list. It’s time to flip that hierarchy around, because without you? None of that shiny stuff you’ve been working on is going to happen. 

If you take good care of yourself, that directly pays off for your clients. The better you feel, the better you do, and the more value you bring. 

If you’re scheduled up the wazoo leaving yourself no time to think, you won’t do your best work. Think about those days when you jump from one call to the next with minimal downtime—do you finish work that day feeling like you’ve done your best work, or just that you’ve rattled through the items on your to-do list? 

In order to approach your tasks with a clear head you need to schedule in some time to relax, let your thoughts marinate, and refocus before diving into the next project. 

That doesn’t mean ditching the laptop for the massage table—unless that works for you. (In which case, get that tension out of your shoulders, and remember to tip your masseuse.) Just make sure you’re taking a real step away—plus, a proper lunch break. We see you eating al desko for the fourth time this week.

You can get a fresh perspective just by changing up your environment. Get your best ideas in the shower? Consider a standing appointment with your water pressure on the days when you need to brainstorm.

We guarantee you’ll be running back to your desk having cracked that tricky problem that’s been plaguing you all week.

Making time for the things that revitalize you will make you more relaxed, nimble at dealing with whatever gets thrown your way, and your clients will see a brighter, more focused (and possibly cleaner) you. That’s a you they’ll want to hire again and again. 

You can only make your clients feel as good as you feel. So, if you pass on that fresh vision and rejuvenated energy, then they’ll do better—and so will your business. Pretty soon, you’re in a positive feedback loop where you and your clients are consistently lifting each other up. All it took was one shower, massage, or well-made sandwich to help everyone succeed a little more.

2 | You can say no to things, even when you “have” the time.

Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should. That blank section in your perfectly color-coordinated planner? It’s not blank just so you can fill it at a moment’s notice. Actually, if we’re sticking with this analogy, you should have a color that’s exclusively for blocking in time that’s just for you, not your work.

Just because you’re not focusing on a particular thing, or producing work every minute of the day, it doesn’t mean that time is wasted. In fact, it’s the most important part of your day, and you need to safeguard it like a Rottweiler with a bone (only hopefully less drooly). 

Why? Because you’re not your business.

You’ll forget that from time to time—we always do, because we love our work. So, make sure that , and fiercely protect that time for yourself.

If you want to really shift into a you-centric headspace, keep a candle you light whenever you’re taking that quiet time, or a playlist that you only listen to while you’re enjoying your downtime. Some sort of ritual like that will help your brain and body realize that it’s time to finally relax.

And don’t, under any circumstance, check your dang email until it’s time to get back to work. 

3 | Do what works for you, not for someone else.

The one thing everyone says when they start working for themselves is that they want to be in charge of their own time. So why do we always end up mimicking the way other people plan their days? 

The world doesn’t run 9-to-5 anymore, and we’ve got the 3am pad thai order to prove it.

There are so many articles that talk about the five things business heroes do before the sun ever comes up. But there should also be articles about the woman who’s crushing it by getting up at 10, because that’s what works for her

Now, think about how you want your day to look.

Do you feel sharpest from 6am—11am? If so, concentrate your strategy and coaching calls in that window. Same goes if you’re sharpest for 3pm—6pm. If you’re a serious night owl, think about what fit your peak energy and focus times, and start hustling up some global business.

Or think about what you want to do to stay refreshed. If you want to swim or surf or just gaze moodily at the waves, check out when high tide is and block that time out. (FYI: It changes constantly, so it’s a fun way of reminding yourself that there’s a whole universe that doesn’t care about traditional business hours.)

There are no wrong answers here! You became an entrepreneur to make the rules. So make them.

4 | Implement your new boundaries.

It’s one thing to set your boundaries—it’s another thing to actually keep them. Luckily, that’s where Acuity comes in.

By , people simply can’t book you then. (It feels like magic. It’s actually just technology.) Once in the bluest moon, someone will reach out requesting availability during your off hours. When that happens, you’re in the happy circumstance of getting to choose to take that appointment, or prioritize your time away from the computer. 

Whenever you’re out of office, whether mentally or emotionally, set up an autoresponder letting clients know. If Wednesdays are blocked off for pottery painting, set that expectation with your clients, and create a quick little responder with your email client that clues your clients in. Before you know it, they’ll automatically adapt around your boundaries so everyone has the best experience possible.

And while tech is useful for the mechanics of prioritizing your own time, nothing quite beats holding yourself accountable to another person—something that’s tricky when you work for yourself. Whether it’s your partner (business or romantic), your coach, or your therapist, you need someone to help you put yourself first.

Like raising kiddos, or renovating the bathroom that was supposed to be a weekend project, sometimes it takes a village.

Work/life balance doesn’t have to be a myth anymore. 

After all, hobbies aren’t just for lockdown—they’re for life. If you build great non-work activities into your schedule, you’ll be more motivated to keep that time free, whether it’s windsurfing at sunset, or walking your dog during lunch.

So many of us live to work, but it’s crucial we don’t run headlong into burnout. Instead of feeling exhausted, fuzzy, cranky, and stressed, set aside the time to treat yourself as well as you’d treat your clients

So when you’re away from your desk? You’re giving your biz the best gift it could get—a refreshed you, excited and ready to tackle the next challenge.

Ready to keep burnout at bay? .

self-care, independent business owners, remote work, small business strategy