How do you refuel and avoid burnout?
With the arrival of summer, time off is sure on everyone's minds. But what happens the rest of the year? If you're the head of the business, it can be tough to make sure you get the time off that you need so we asked entrepreneurs around the world how they refuel and avoid burnout. From companies with many employees to those with a team of one, from tech to food industries, from pre-revenue to full cruise control, here's how entrepreneurs like you avoid burnout and keep themselves fueled for the long road ahead.
"I love to be in nature and to read and write. Also, I like being with a loved one where there is no need to talk or discuss. Most importantly, I need to spend a lot of time in my day smiling and laughing to cut the intensity."
—Shana, Executive Director and Founder
"The most important thing is staying balanced through my morning routine (meditation, visualization, and a 7-minute workout), regular athletic activities, time in nature, prioritizing time with family and friends, turning off devices & disconnecting from work, and getting 8 hours of sleep every night. Trips to fun foreign locations help too."
"Usually when I'm starting to feel burned out, I go for a boat ride solo. But often I need to reconnect with the people that mean the most to me in my life, family and close friends."
—Kareem, Founder and Owner
"Nature is a big contributor, and, for me, water specifically. Being on top of the water or under the water. It requires a great respect for mother nature, and an awareness to the moment. Getting into that state of mind also requires being in the company of only people that I can be truly present and unguarded with. If I am 'on alert' about needing to be something for others, which is most of my life, then I cannot fully drop that sense of alert to let my own thoughts be heard, even if only in my own head. I often find myself working through 'back burner challenges' while in this state of mind and seeing new perspectives and options that maybe hadn’t been clear before."
"One of the primary dangers of the entrepreneurial lifestyle is burnout, based on our need to be constantly connected. Where most people punch a clock that tells them when to be on and off, the 'eBrain' (entrepreneurial) mindset never stops. I’ve come up with 5 key strategies for recharging my own energy: 1) mute (turn off as much 'noise' as possible, including social media, news and other non-essential incoming information), 2) minimize (decrease energy output by delegating tasks that can be passed to others, and minimizing unnecessary stress from stimulations such as sugar, alcohol and caffeine), 3) move (get consistent with physical activity, at least 30 minutes a day), 4) meditate (using guided meditations or music, aim for 15-20 minutes to set intentions each morning and several 3-5 minute recharge breaks throughout the day) and 5) mirth (aka humor; find and share something funny each morning, and whenever possible during the day, to lift my own spirit as well as others)."
—Heidi, Chief Energy Officer
"AH, the great recharge! I think this is a skill that I have worked hard (or the opposite) for a while now. I think there are two different versions for me. I can recharge daily (which can be very necessary) just by watching TV for a little while or even hanging out with friends. On a greater scale, I recharge well just by disconnecting from any work that needs to happen. That can be by traveling with my wife or even just getting on an airplane.In all of these actions, I don't think about what else has to happen in the world, just concentrate on what's happening now. Being in a flow state is key. I can get in to 'mini-flow' just with a good tv show, but when I'm around the world from home, somehow the day-to-day needs seem to just melt away and nothing bad happens either.
—Lee, The Guy Who Does Everything But Dance
"I start my day with a workout and that seems to center me, preparing me for the day. It's also one less thing to worry about if I get the workout out of the way, as well as I feel weird if I do not work out. At times I will journal and meditate, though the last month those have been suspiciously absent from my life, yet my stress level and sleep patterns are off. Hmm. Reading is one of the best outlets for my brain to recharge. Getting into nature is where my brain tends to shut off."
"I go for walks with my dog, with friends, or both. I have a little garden that gets overgrown with weeds to remind me that I want to spend time with it. I love live music that makes me want to dance and enjoy the moment. I keep a blog where I write about tech, but rarely about work. I write code for fun, random experiments to learn and explore things I’m curious about. When I travel for work, I take extra time to go to museums or go to a local meetup or see something marvelous that I wouldn’t normally get to see. At least once a week, I have lunch or coffee with an acquaintance or old friend for no reason other than to say hello and get back in touch."
—Sarah, Founder and Board Member
"My best recharge technique is my daily mountain bike ride. I live in an area where I can hop on my bike and be in the wilderness within ten minutes. My ride combines physical exertion, focus, and an immersion in nature. It is my most consistent, reliable method for reaching my 'flow' state of body/mind. My favorite time is first thing in the morning; it helps set the right tone for the whole day."
"I tend to take small amounts of time more often than take large chunks of time off. I engineer flexibility and small breaks in the day to day to proactively avoid burnout."
—Sean, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer
"The key for me to recharge is to disconnect mentally, which is sometimes difficult to do. When work is busy I don’t have enough time to think through all of the issues so I carry some problems with me to my off-hours to resolve. These issues will pop up in my mind during my walks, bike rides or 4am. I used to resent thinking about these issues during these times, but I learned I cannot control this and just accept it and work through them. Also, once I have thought through the problem and have some action items to deal with it, I feel better. It is good to mentally 'check off the box.' I engage in hobbies that take my full focus, which help me disconnect mentally. I play drums in a band and I race cars and both hobbies require 100% focus and need to be fully present. For me, being in the flow is a great way to disconnect from work and recharge."
Although these entrepreneurs work in different cities and industries, on different size teams, they're all in it for the long game and that means creating the right work-life harmony for themselves with the help of time off.
Want more time off but not sure where to start? Use the Wheel of Awesome to get started.
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