Tradies are known for working hard, long hours. Especially trade business owners, who find themselves working on the tools all day and catching up on quotes, invoices, and paperwork at night.
When you run a business, particularly a trades business, working 65 to 70 hours per week is not unheard of. The problem is - it’s difficult to keep this up for any length of time before you risk burning out.
"And, research shows that working more than 50 hours per week actually makes you less productive."
If you are just starting out or going through a period of rapid growth, it’s normal to burn the candle at both ends for a bit. But, over time it can damage your mental and physical health and affect your relationships with those closest to you.
So, how do you know if you’re heading toward burnout? Here are some of the signs to look out for.
Signs of burnout
1. Extreme fatigue
This could be mental, physical, or even emotional. There is tired and then there is - can’t-possibly-take-another-step tired. Fatigue can and will affect all aspects of your life causing you to lose focus and motivation and potentially leading to further physical issues. It is important to not disregard fatigue as just another typical day of being tired.
2. Feeling grumpy and frustrated all of the time
We all have bad days, but if your staff, friends, and family are walking on eggshells around you, it may be time to reevaluate the situation. Having a negative effect on those around you is not a great sign but it also takes a toll on your mental health which is just as important.
3. Bad memory and a short attention
Just the other day, you forgot where you put the keys, where you parked the car, or if you paid the guys. If you think you’re having just another forgetful day that turns out to be a week and then a month, this could be a sign of burnout. Consistent memory loss and lack of attention can have prolonged effects on the brain.
4. Can’t get any satisfaction
You used to love it when a job was well done, but now you just don’t care one way or the other. Job satisfaction should be important to you and in the workplace. According to a study on the burnout experience, low levels of job satisfaction also lead to absenteeism, turnover and negative workplace relationships.
5. Constant stress
You’ve lost your ability to switch off. You worry about work you’ve done, work that’s not done, and work you might not even get. Stress can have major consequences on your mind and body, not to mention reducing productivity and motivation whilst at work.
6. Poor self-care
You’re eating more pies and can’t remember when you last got to the gym.
If any of those statements ring true then perhaps it’s time to take action. To help get you on the right track, take a look at these surefire ways to save that midnight oil from burning out.
Tips on managing burnout
We know it’s difficult. Any successful business owner will tell you that sometimes you know the only reason you got the job was because you responded first. However, scheduling a time to answer emails, as well as listening and responding to voicemails will help keep you sane.
2. Make taking breaks a priority
Schedule a 30-minute break as if it were an important meeting. Read a book, take a walk, take a nap - do something you enjoy that is non-work related.
3. Set realistic goals
Burnout is most often times a result of setting unrealistic goals for yourself. Take a long hard look at your targets. Is it really possible to get that job done in that amount of time without you and the guys working late and working weekends for the next month? What is the worst that will happen? Is it worth the stress?
4. Get on top of your finances
Cash flow issues can cause major anxiety for any business owner. Do you know exactly how your finances are tracking and how effective you are at collecting late payments? Once you have a full understanding of your finances, consider what actions you can take to get better at managing cash flow. For some tips on what to include in your financial action plan, take a look at our top tips for nailing cash flow.
5. Get organised and delegate
Disorganisation is a major source of stress. Take time to get your admin work sorted, the files put away, and your desk cleared. Next up, make a list of all the admin tasks that are taking you more than 15 minutes to complete every day. Can you delegate these tasks or perhaps it’s time to hire a part-time office assistant to help out?
6. Learn to just say no
If you’re feeling like you can’t complete anything without being interrupted then it’s time to set some boundaries. For example, you may not want your staff to burst into your office every time they have a question. Keep aside a small chunk of time every day - even if it’s just an hour - when your staff know they can’t disturb you unless it’s an emergency.
7. Live a little
All work and no play will make you burn out in the blink of an eye. Take that holiday you have been promising the family for years. Take your partner out to dinner.
For more tips on how to make your business work for you, rather than the other way around, check out our top tips for getting a handle on growing your business.
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