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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)

                                  More by this author

                                  9 No-Brainer Ways to Track Employee Time Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Things Entrepreneurs Should Stop Doing Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Tips for Mastering Public Speaking Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Tasks You Should be Outsourcing

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                                  Published on November 14, 2018

                                  Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                                  Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                                  With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                                  For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                                  In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                                  Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                                  Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                                  It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                                  For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                                  Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                                  Symptoms of Fatigue

                                  Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                                  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                                  • mental blocks
                                  • lack of motivation
                                  • headache
                                  • dizziness
                                  • muscle weakness
                                  • slowed reflexes and responses
                                  • impaired decision-making and judgement
                                  • moodiness, such as irritability
                                  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                                  • reduced immune system function
                                  • blurry vision
                                  • short-term memory problems
                                  • poor concentration
                                  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                                  Causes of Fatigue

                                  The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                                  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                                  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                                  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                                  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                                  Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                                  Medical Causes of Fatigue

                                  If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                                  Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                                  Anemia

                                  Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                                  Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                                  There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                                  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                                  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                                  This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                                  Diabetes

                                  Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                                  Sleep Apnea

                                  Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                                  Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                                  Thyroid disease

                                  An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                                  Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                                  • Lack of sleep
                                  • Too much sleep 
                                  • Alcohol and drugs 
                                  • Sleep disturbances 
                                  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                                  • Poor diet 

                                  Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                                  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                                  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                                  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                                  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                                  Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                                  Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                                  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                                  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                                  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                                  How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                                  Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                                  1. Tell The Truth

                                  Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                                  To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                                  Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                                  The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                                  One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                                  • How you feel
                                  • What time of day it is
                                  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                                  • How your mind and body reacts

                                  This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                                  2. Reduce Your Commitments

                                  When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                                  If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                                  When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                                  Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                                  3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                                  If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                                  Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                                  If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                                  Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                                  Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                                  4. Express More Gratitude

                                  Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                                  It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                                  Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                                  5. Focus On Yourself

                                  Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                                  There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                                  But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                                  We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                                  6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                                  Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                                  Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                                  The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                                  Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                                  7. Take a Power Nap

                                  When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                                  Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                                  This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                                  8. Take More Exercise

                                  The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                                  Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                                  The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                                  You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                                  9. Get More Quality Sleep

                                  To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                                  Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                                  My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                                  10. Improve Your Diet

                                  Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                                  Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                                  On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                                  To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                                  Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                                  Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                                  11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                                  Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                                  When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                                  Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                                  My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                                  12. Get Hydrated

                                  Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                                  Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                                  If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                                  The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                                  The Bottom Line

                                  These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                                  If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                                  Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                                  Reference

                                  [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                                  [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                                  [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                                  [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                                  [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                                  [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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