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Ask The Entrepreneurs: 15 Signs You’re Working Too Much and Burning Out

Ask The Entrepreneurs: 15 Signs You’re Working Too Much and Burning Out


    Ask The Entrepreneurs

    is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

    Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

    What are some telltale signs that you’re starting to experience burnout and need to hit the Pause button?

    1. Input vs. Output

      Are you working very hard, draining your batteries, but seeing very little concrete evidence of the time you’re spending? This means that your input/output is out of balance. You should be working efficiently and effectively, producing more than you invest, so if that’s flip-flopped, take some time to recalibrate.

      Colin Wright, Exile Lifestyle


      2. Entrepreneurship Is Fun, Remember?

        When you’re loving what you’re doing, the “fun to not-fun” ratio is heavily in favor of the fun side. You are excited to get up and get to work, full of energy and new ideas. You get stuff done fast and you’re in the flow. But once things start to shift to where the majority of your days aren’t enjoyable at all,you need to start looking for a break to get that passion, energy and fun back.

        Trevor Mauch, Automize, LLC

        3. Blurry Focus

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          If you’re having trouble focusing because you’ve taken on too many different things, your work will suffer. You’ll notice a lack of enthusiasm, a lack of interest, and overall, a lack of quality output. If you’re not able to deliver what your client expects, you’re probably taking on too much. Focus on what you can and should be doing, and find a way to cut out the rest.

          Matt Cheuvront, Proof Branding

          4. Voicemail’s Full!

            If you begin dreading calls with clients, it’s a sign that something is out of balance. Use that warning to evaluate if you’re working too many hours or on tasks that can be easily outsourced, so you can fully enjoy every client conversation and network without feeling tired or burned out.

            Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems


            5. Unnecessary Insomnia

              If you’re tossing and turning at night and having trouble getting those restful Zzz’s, it’s a sign you may have too much on your plate. It’s a dangerous self-fulfilling cycle too; if you can’t get to sleep because your mind is too active, you’ll be even more tired the following day. Look for ways to delegate your to-do’s and make R&R part of your routine.

              Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

              6. Where Do I Start?

                A disorganized list of tasks is the busy entrepreneur’s kryptonite. Without some sort of method to your daily madness, you’re bound to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. I recommend spending ten minutes every night reviewing your task list for the next day and creating a hierarchy that you will be excited about tomorrow.

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                Logan Lenz, Endagon

                7. Social Surfing

                  One sign that I knew I was getting burned out was that I’d spend way too much time on Facebook, Twitter, message boards, blogs, ESPN, news sites, anything to put off doing work. In the beginning, I was incredibly excited to get to work each day and crush my tasks. As I got burned out, I started to procrastinate and surf the net, tweeting more and commenting on Facebook posts and blogs.

                  Nathan Lustig, Entrustet

                  8. Steering Clear of Your Own Office

                    Whenever I am experiencing burnout, the last place I head is my office. I’d rather do laundry, scrub bathrooms or go for a walk on a frigid day than sit and do work. If you are experiencing similar feelings, take a few hours or an entire day to just set the work down and go do something totally fun and frivolous. Your brain and body will thank you immensely!

                    Erin BlaskieBSETC

                    9. Is This Annoying?

                      You know you’re starting to experience burnout when become very irritable and have a hard time keeping your emotions in check. You will tend to lash out at people that are undeserving of the outburst. Then you know it is time to take a break!

                      Justin Nowak, Mobile Business Advisors


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                      10. No Time for the Best Friend?

                        This might sound corny, but for me, if I’m too tired to play with our dog for at least a few minutes when I get home from work, it’s not a good sign.

                        Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net




                        11. When You Can’t See the Light

                          Personally, I don’t live to work, I work to live. Being outdoors is an extremely important part of my life and if I realize I haven’t seen sunlight in 18 hours, I know I’m headed straight for burnout. Even if I have to sadly supplement going skiing with taking a quick walk to get coffee, it’s better than not getting any vitamin D at all. Know what’s important to you and don’t neglect it.

                          Matt Wilson, Under30CEO.com

                          12. Overwhelmed with Apathy

                            The biggest sign I have found time and time again is when you become apathetic to your business. You stop responding to emails immediately, you spend more time on websites like Facebook and “fun” sites, and you feel like things can wait.

                            Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr


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                            13. What Is Burnout?

                              If you get to the point where you’re asking yourself what constitutes burnout, you’re probably already at a point where you need to take some away from work. It’s easy to push harder, but taking an “unplugged” day away from email and phone calls does wonders to the body and mind!

                              Nathalie Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media


                              14. Didn’t I Go to Work Already?

                                If you are “at the office” even when you are at home asleep, it is time to take a breather.

                                Peter Minton, Minton Law Group, P.C.



                                15. I Love Email!

                                  Managing email is one of the most inefficient tasks of the day, but when you start loving receiving and answering emails as an excuse for not doing real work, that becomes a problem. If you live for that nice little update in your inbox when you have a new message, you probably need to take a break to figure out how you can fall in love with your real job again.

                                  Danny Wong, Blank Label Group, Inc.

                                  (Photo credit: Burnt Out Match via Shutterstock)

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                                  How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                                  How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                                  Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                                  Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                                  I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                                  You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                                  Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                                  When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                                  I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                                  Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                                  Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                                  Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                                  1. The Inner Critic

                                  This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                                  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                                  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                                  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                                  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                                  He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                                  Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                                  2. The Worrier

                                  This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                                  He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                                  Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                                  3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                                  He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                                  He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                                  He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                                  4. The Sleep Depriver

                                  This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                                  His motivation can be:

                                  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                                  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                                  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                                  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                                  How can you control these squatters?

                                  How to Master Your Mind

                                  You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                                  Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                                  There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                                  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                                  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                                  This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                                  The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                                  Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                                  For the Inner Critic

                                  When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                                  You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                                  For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                                  You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                                  “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                                  If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                                  • He riles up the Worrier.
                                  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                                  • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                                  • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                                  • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                                  Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                                  Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                                  For the Worrier

                                  Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                                  Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                                  You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                                  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                                  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                  • Muscles tense

                                  Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                                  If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                                  Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                                  “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                                  Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                                  If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                                  Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                                  Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                                  For example:

                                  If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                                  “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                                  Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                                  “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                                  Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                                  For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                                  Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                                  The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                                  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                                  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                  • Muscles tension

                                  I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                                  Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                                  Breathe in through your nose:

                                  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                                  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                                  • Focus on your belly rising.

                                  Breathe out through your nose:

                                  • Feel your lungs emptying.
                                  • Focus on your belly falling.
                                  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                                  Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                                  Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                                  One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                                  Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                                  For the Sleep Depriver

                                  (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                                  I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                                  Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                                  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                                  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                                  When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                                  From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                                  For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                                  If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                                  You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                                  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                                  • Shut down your thinking.
                                  • Calm your feelings.
                                  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                                  Becoming the Master of Your Mind

                                  Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                                  You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                                  Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                                  Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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