What is burnout? Is it a term tossed around to exaggerate the desire for a holiday escape to some far-off tropical destination? Is it what we say to justify that fourth cup of coffee? While it may sound like the buzzword du jour, for design entrepreneurs, burning out is a very real threat.
At its most debilitating, burnout can bring an otherwise healthy individual to a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. Demanding clients, constant deadlines—design professionals have to be vigilant about having the necessary strategy to avoid a physical, emotional, and mental crisis.
Feel like your energy has been low lately? We’ve put together a list of important ways you avoid burnout. If you follow a few basic self-care steps, you’ll be able to catch yourself before you crash, and you’ll actually become a more productive design entrepreneur. So take a deep breathe, and read on!
Prioritize your health
One of the quickest ways a design entrepreneur will unravel is by neglecting their own physical well-being. Sometimes a whole day will go by before you realize that the only thing getting you by is the bagel you had for breakfast.
Make sure you are taking care of the basics: nutrition and sleep. If you know that you will have a particularly busy day, carry quick snacks that will stop you from crashing. Talk to your doctor about taking a multivitamin. Think about saunas, yoga, massages—self-care doesn’t have to be boring!
Lean on your support network
Sometimes you just have to take off your design entrepreneur hat. Do you have people in your life who value you outside of a business context? Whether you turn to friends or family, taking the time to develop positive and meaningful relationships is an important part of your survival strategy.
No, things aren’t always going to go according to plan, but sometimes just having someone else listen is a helpful way of coping with frustrating setbacks. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine. Connecting with your support network will help you keep it all in perspective.
Keep a goal journal
Keep on top of your real-life entrepreneurial ambitions. You can make these goals more attainable by actually writing them down. Re-evaluate your everyday business: Do you need to learn how to delegate more? Are you looking into providing additional design services anytime soon?
Create a goal chart. Taking a step back will ultimately make you more productive. After all, you generate endless task sheets for every client you work with. Why not be as diligent about verbalizing the hopes and dreams you have for your design business?
There are so many days when every moment on your schedule is accounted for. Running from task to task, how often do you stop to check in with your own wants and needs? Entrepreneurs are overachievers. And chances are, you are the type of design professional who will stretch herself thin trying to make the impossible happen—but as you go above and beyond for your client, don’t forget to include yourself in that equation.
Give yourself adequate time between projects. Make sure that you have set hours for clients to contact you, and try to enforce these times. Whatever you do, don’t overcommit. In the ideal world a work life balance is easy to achieve. Try to create a healthy separation between work and your personal life. Even if this means having to say ‘no’ to more clients.
Create a ritual
Of course, putting together beautiful interiors is your creative outlet. But do you have stress outlet just for you? Now is the time to implement one. Whether you like scrapbooking, going for a long walk, having dinner out with a friend, or catching the latest comedy, set aside time for an activity you like–purely for the enjoyment of it!
Yes, leaving your work at “the office” is a particular challenge for design entrepreneurs. But you should have a set amount of time for fun and relaxation—without fear of the next notification that goes off on your phone. Having a stress-free ritual will be something you can do look forward to everyday or every week!
Even if you don’t feel anywhere near meltdown mode, finding healthy ways to manage stress will allow you to reconnect with your goals, making you a more well-rounded and better balanced design professional.