My last couple of posts have talked a lot about burnout. I've dealt with a few life-changing bouts of burnout, and each time I've had to make major changes to my career in order to get through it. I've learned through these phases how burnout presents and what causes it. Now I'm going to talk about how to avoid it - and while my post is primarily written for writers, many of the ideas are applicable to entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others.
Also, because it turns out that I had a lot more to say about burnout that I realized, I'm going to write one more post after this, about how to recover from burnout if it's too late to avoid it.
In the meantime, here are a few protective business practices for avoiding burnout.
1) Work with People You Like
This seems obvious, but it's amazing how many times we overlook it. We often get into a mindset as small business owners that we have to work for everyone and anyone who wants us. This simply isn't true, and sometimes being a little choosy can actually help us. It'll free up your time to work with people you enjoy and who appreciate you, and it'll prevent you from feeling unappreciated - which leads directly to burnout. Have a difficult client? Fire them! Life is too short to work with people like that.
2) Establish Expectations
It's an important life lesson, especially for women, that setting your own worth is totally up to you - as a writer as well as in any other role. You are in charge of setting your own standards. If you accept less, others will behave accordingly.
This has so many applications, but as a writer, it means it's important not to work for too little. It's important to say, these are the hours I want to work, and I'm not letting anyone else dictate otherwise. Working too much and for too little is unsustainable and a direct path to burnout, so take care of yourself first.
3) Maintain Variety in Your Work
Are you sensing a theme here? Freelancing is all about choice, and choice is your strongest defense against burnout. Personally, I prefer to mix up both subject matter and the writing style of projects I work on. Maintaining variety in your work is key to keeping your work interesting, and being interested and engaged in your work will help protect you from getting burned out.
4) Find Work You're Passionate About
Just like I discussed in my last post, feeling like your work makes a difference is important to our job satisfaction, and people who feel high levels of job satisfaction are less likely to burn out. Find work that means something to you to help keep yourself invested in your work.
If you're a writer or entrepreneur, it's important not to lose sight of the fact that you do hold all the cards. You control the scope of your business, who you work with, and what work you accept. It can be empowering to remind yourself of this! If you don't feel right about something, if a client is being unpleasant or you realize you're working too hard for too little, make a change now before it leads to a burnout.
Click here for links to the rest of my series about writer burnout.