A man sits at a table in front of an open laptop with a worried, tired expression. He wears a striped apron over a white T-shirt and has his head leaning on one hand. Behind him is a metal shelving unit filled with large pots. A potted plant sits on the floor next to the shelves.
Burnout can happen if you take on too many responsibilities at once. Always remember to rely on your team and delegate tasks. — Getty Images/LumiNola

In recent years, there’s been a lot of talk about how to manage — and prevent — employee burnout. However, burnout isn’t felt just by employees. In fact, 48% of small business owners have experienced burnout in the past year, a recent survey found.

Oftentimes, burnout shows itself through symptoms such as insomnia, irritability, fatigue, high blood pressure, excessive stress, and sadness. While a common problem, certain planning and preventative measures can help small business owners manage the stress of their job. Here are five expert tips to help business owners avoid burnout.

Stop multitasking

Although you may feel more productive when you send emails during meetings and handle phone calls while doing paperwork, doing so can have the opposite effect you want it to have. According to Anthony Martin, Founder and CEO of Choice Mutual, multitasking can lead to increased stress levels and decreased work performance.

“I recommend taking some time at the beginning of each workday, making a to-do list of the tasks [you] need to complete that day, and designating blocks of time for each task, starting with the most important,” Martin said. “This way, you will work on the most challenging tasks at the beginning of your day with a fresh mind. You can then work through your list, focusing on one task at a time.”

[Read more: How to Spot Employee Burnout (And Prevent It From Happening in the First Place)]

Delegate tasks

During her first few months of entrepreneurship, Marliis Reinkort, Founder and CEO of CodeGalaxy, found herself experiencing chronic exhaustion from working long hours and failing to delegate tasks. Quickly, Reinkort’s exhaustion developed into long periods of burnout.

“Delegation is not easy for any entrepreneur, but it's critical,” Reinkort said. “Trying to do everything in your business makes decision-making and business development tough. At the end of the day, you simply can't do everything in the business. Delegating some things to the employees, or outsourcing if you don't have employees, can really help with preventing burnout.”

People who are burnt out spend a lot of time worrying about not having enough time to do something or forgetting something important.

Jennie Miller, Co-founder of Midss

Set aside time for self-care and relaxation

According to Mellina Joseph, Founder of Coffee Cracked, one of the main reasons entrepreneurs burn out is because they “grind” too hard without taking a rest. However, she believes that focusing on one’s physical and mental well-being is just as important as professional success.

“I personally like to engage in activities such as exercise, meditation, or yoga,” Joseph said. “Simply taking a break to relax and do something enjoyable can do wonders in terms of improving your mental state of mind. As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly on the go and tackling new challenges. During such times, it's easy to become overwhelmed and burnt out. By taking the time to prioritize my own well-being, I’m better able to tackle those challenges with a clear and focused mind.”

[Read more: How to Prevent Employee Burnout]

Organize yourself

Without an organizational method, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, forget important tasks, or feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day, according to Jennie Miller, Co-founder of Midss. That’s why it’s important to organize both your professional and personal life, so you can take measures to reduce stress, have control over your time, and ultimately, prevent burnout.

“People who are burnt out spend a lot of time worrying about not having enough time to do something or forgetting something important,” Miller said. “I cleared my mind and got myself more organized and it really helped a lot. To avoid having to remember everything, I started keeping a journal and a to-do list.”

Surround yourself with the right people

Matt Doud, Co-founder and CEO of Planit Agency, has managed to avoid burnout as a business owner by surrounding himself with the right people who keep him on track and help him when times get tough. With the right support, he has been able to turn challenges into opportunities, rather than letting them negatively affect him.

“I have found great success in surrounding myself with like-minded entrepreneurs that help me navigate the multi-dimensional challenges of owning a business,” Doud said. “I learn from others' experiences. I'm held accountable by my peers. We collectively celebrate the wins and navigate the pitfalls. And we make time to really, really clear our heads with what we call OIL experiences — once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to live/learn/grow.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

To stay on top of all the news impacting your small business, go here for all of our latest small business news and updates.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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Published January 24, 2023