Let’s talk about burnout

As a solo entrepreneur, burnout is easily among the most frustrating problems you can face. Unfortunately, I face it pretty regularly.

When you’re the only full-time person at your business, it’s a major issue. You’ll find your projects falling behind. You’ll realise you don’t have passion for personal or side projects. And there’s often no-one to pick up the slack.

I’m going through a pretty bad case of burnout right now. In fact, I’ve been going through it for a few months now. Originally, I had planned to use my December-through-January break to rest and recuperate, but that didn’t quite work out. The “resting” I was doing was really anything but; instead of resting to restore my creative energy, I was resting to restore basic bodily functions. When I was finally “back to work”, my creative energy was (is) still out-to-lunch, leaving me in the lurch.

Even though I have my illness to blame for this prolonged burnout, it’s ultimately just a bit player. This particular case of burnout stretches back to late-November, and is just the latest revival of a long-running show. Realising that the problem wasn’t going away, I started laying the groundwork in November of last year for combatting burnout.

So here’s what I’m doing, now, in 2015, to help prevent future burnout.

Outsourcing more

I’m a huge proponent of outsourcing, so this was a good place to start. There were certain procedural tasks in my business that often weighed over me, whether I accomplished them or not. By outsourcing those, I can safely “remove” them from my brain, leaving more space to focusing on tasks I actually care about.

Raising the rates

I’ve known for a while that Van Patten Media’s standard hourly rate didn’t really match up with the high quality of our work, so late last year I decided the time had come to raise our agency rate. This has the direct benefit of reducing the number of clients I need to take on at any given time, because I’m less concerned about meeting a minimum income level. And ultimately, because I’ll be working with fewer clients, the clients I am working with will experience a higher quality of service, with fewer delays and more focus.

It also means I feel more comfortable bringing on new team members and contractors, because I know the budget can safely support it. This lets me focus on the parts of the project I enjoy, so I don’t lose my steam on things that I’m not passionate about.

Reducing work time

The other benefit (and one I hadn’t originally considered) of raising our agency rate was that I’m less compelled to work quite so much. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m aiming to confine client work to roughly 4 hours per day. It might not sound like a lot, but as we’ve improved our development processes and outsourced certain repetitive tasks, we are—as the expression goes—”working smarter, not harder.”

So those are just a few of the ways I’m aiming to fight burnout in the future. For this current case, I’m fighting it as I often have: lots of sleep, lots of tea, and lots of reading. Hopefully, with these new tactics, it’ll be the last case of burnout for quite a while.

Published by Chris Van Patten

I'm an entrepreneur and product lead, and owner of Tomodomo, through which I help companies build their digital publishing platform.

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