8 Data-Supported Steps to Reduce Fatigue and Burnout

Running a business can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be incredibly exhausting. As a business owner or manager, it’s essential to take the time to slow down, recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and take proactive steps to reduce fatigue and burnout. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of sustainable business practices and how slowing down can help protect your physical and mental health while supporting organizational success.

1. Eliminate wasted time.
Take a thoughtful look at your to-do list. Are there any tasks that take significant time and resources to complete that don’t offer you the return on investment to make them worthwhile? What would happen if you eliminated them from your to-do list entirely? Would you still meet your desired destination? If yes, it may be time to axe that task. Consider this quote from The Four Disciplines of Execution: “The only reason you fight a battle is to win the war.” Is this task going to help you win it? Or does it just feel productive?

2. Get off electronics and social media.
Vision Direct polled 2,000 adults in the U.S. and found that the average person spent over 6,259 hours per year staring at screens. If that statistic is making you sweat, or if you feel like you don’t have any time to live the life you want to, your work-life balance could be lurking behind the electric glow of your devices. Instead of setting an ambiguous goal to use your cell phone less, try tactics like:

  • plugging your phone in overnight in a different room to prevent you from starting your day by doom scrolling
  • Setting an alarm at night to set the phone down and enjoy some ‘analog’ activities
  • Utilizing your phone’s screen time features to remind you when you’ve spent a certain amount of time on any one app.
  • Turning your phone off and putting it away for–gasp–an entire weekend day.

3. Get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation can negatively impact your executive functioning abilities. If you are sleep-deprived, everything takes longer. Mistakes happen more frequently. Emotions become hard to regulate. Slowing down and getting enough sleep each night can make you more productive, reducing work hours. Plus, you feel more refreshed.

If getting to bed an hour earlier isn’t feasible for you, could you find time to rest your eyes for 15 minutes a few days a week? According to the Sleep Foundation, “A nap can improve cognitive functions such as memory, logical reasoning, and the ability to complete complex tasks.”

4. Zoom out to gain a new perspective.
It’s called the hamster wheel for a reason: you’re moving so fast you can’t see that you aren’t actually going anywhere. Slowing down your usual routine can help you gain perspective. Now that you’ve cut out superfluous tasks, cut down on screen time, and are getting more rest, use that extra bandwidth to reconnect with your mission, vision, and purpose. You might have been fighting fires in the trenches for so long that you’ve forgotten why you’re in business. Make sure your employees understand their grander goals as well.

5. Avoid multitasking.
By this point, we’ve all heard the data that multitasking doesn’t actually save time. But are you executing the discipline to work on tasks one at a time, or are you task-switching in rapid succession? Almost everyone thinks they are good at multitasking, but a study by Jason M. Watson and David L. Strayer concluded that only 2.5% of people can multitask effectively. 

Becoming self-aware of your habits related to multitasking is the first step. Next, consider batching your work by client or task type. Note when you’re feeling more energized throughout the day and when your attention seems to lag. Then plan your work accordingly. This process is called capacity planning or time batching, and we have an entire article dedicated to it here. The key is to continue experimenting within the framework and see what works best for you. 

6. Get better at managing distractions.
If you get interrupted every five minutes, you will feel drained of energy at the end of your work day. Get smart about managing interruptions so you can be more productive. You can try strategies like:

  • Setting your phone to “do not disturb.” 
  • Carving out time on your calendar as “unavailable” so teammates don’t have total access to your time.
  • Placing your phone somewhere you can’t mindlessly reach for it.
  • Turning email and chat notifications off.
  • Working during an off time. 
  • If you’re in a physical office space, close your door.

7. Stop worrying about billable hours (for service businesses) – at least for a while.
If you’re feeling fixated on billable hours as of late, it may be time to take a step back, even if it feels counterintuitive. Otherwise, this preoccupation could affect the quality of service you’re able to offer your customers, which could lead to a decrease in customer satisfaction and hurt your reputation.

In addition, that constant attention on billable hours might even be causing you unnecessary stress. It’s not sustainable for every season of your business to be one of exponential growth. Sometimes, holding fast for a quarter can give you time to reevaluate your priorities in your business and personal life. This, in turn, can allow you to step forward confidently when the time is right.

8. Do nothing.
It’s actually okay to do nothing sometimes when you’re the business owner. Your mind needs space to develop new ideas, think about creative solutions to complex issues, and even daydream. Does the act of doing nothing leave you feeling incredibly uncomfortable? Then it’s probably exactly what you need.

By implementing these new strategies to free up time, you’ll find you’re better able to take back control of your day and slow down. Slowing down in your business is essential for your mental and physical well-being. Taking the time to rest, recharge, and evaluate your goals will allow you to refocus and realign with your purpose. When you are in a state of balance, it becomes easier to make decisions that benefit your business and your life.

And just as importantly, slowing down allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor, appreciate the moments of success, and celebrate the milestones you have achieved.

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