Feeling burnt out? 3 ways to bring the spark back to your business

Confession: I used to be extremely critical of burnout.

I would come across posts on the topic when I first started Elle & Company and thought the writers were being a tad bit overdramatic.

If you’re doing what you love, can you really ever become burnt out?

It was at a time in my business where I had a ton of motivation. I had a clear goal that I was working toward - creating a full-time business off of my love of design - and I was willing to work 10+ hours a day to get there.

The momentum continued to increase as I saw some success in my business. Clients started to come rolling in, my blog was growing exponentially, and I started to offer more products and services.

I hit my stride…

...and then recently, I hit a wall. The early mornings, late nights, and no vacations finally caught up with me.

That was a month or two ago. Since then I’ve realized that burnout is a real thing. 

And after some reflection and time off, I’ve discovered 3 simple things that can help you conquer burnout and bring some spark back to your business.

Feeling Burnt Out? 3 Ways to Bring the Spark Back to Your Business | Elle & Company

1  |  Refocus your goals

Your business may have started off with a bang and a big push of momentum, but after months (and maybe even years) of doing the same old thing over and over, you might feel stuck in a rut.

While it’s helpful to have streamlined processes and maintain consistency in your business, it can be easy to lose sight of your bigger goals. 

Or, better yet, it can cause you to be complacent and keep you from creating bigger goals. 

That’s where I’ve been. In an effort to streamline my offerings and cut back, I stopped brainstorming bigger goals. 

It wasn’t until I met with a coaching client a couple weeks ago and heard her huge goals for the future that I realized that I wasn’t dreaming big anymore.

No wonder I had been lacking motivation! I lost sight of what I was working for. 

And as a result, the day-to-day tasks of writing blog posts, scheduling social media, keeping up with emails, and designing new items for the Library seemed like weighty chores instead of enjoyable work.

I’m not claiming that work is always going to be enjoyable, but I do think it feels more burdensome when you lose track of why you’re doing the work in the first place.

Maybe you can relate. Are you stuck in a rut? If so, reconsider your big goals. 

What are you working toward? What’s the greater purpose? What are you trying to achieve?

You may need to reevaluate and brainstorm. 

  • Focus on goals that excite you and push you out of your comfort zone
  • Consider setting quarterly goals instead of annual goals to get the ball rolling and see quicker progress
  • Share your goals with someone who will encourage you and hold you accountable
  • Set a timeframe for reaching each goal or find another tangible way to quantify them (like making a certain amount of money or gaining a certain number of subscribers)
  • And if you’re like me, you may need to give yourself an incentive or reward to work toward (like a spa day, some time off, or a new Rifle planner)

I created a workbook at the beginning of the year called the Work Week Scheduler, and it has a page for outlining your quarterly goal. 

I referred back to it last week and while I’m a tad biased, I found it super helpful for setting a big goal, determining why I want to achieve it and how I’ll reward myself when I do achieve it...

Feeling Burnt Out? 3 Ways to Bring the Spark Back to Your Business | Elle & Company

...and mapping out progress goals and action steps to keep me focused along the way.

Feeling Burnt Out? 3 Ways to Bring the Spark Back to Your Business | Elle & Company

I share a behind-the-scenes look at the entire workbook in this post, Effectively Scheduling Your Work Week. 

If you’re already a Library subscriber, you can login here and find it under the Workbook section. And if you aren’t a Library subscriber, click the image below to sign up and gain instant access:

You can also access my SMART Goal Worksheet in the Library, which is a helpful one-page guide for “beefing up” your goal and helping you reach it by evaluating whether it’s specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound. 

However you go about it, reevaluating and refocusing your goals can help bring some focus and excitement back to your work. 

And once you see some progress - even if it’s seemingly small - you’ll be encouraged and motivated to keep going. 

2  |  Mix things up

Switching up your processes or coming up with a new approach can also bring some life back to your business and get you back to that long-lost excitement you used to have in your work.

If you’ve been stuck in a rut with your blog and you find yourself writing the same type of posts over and over again, mix things up! 

Share a long list, round-up some resources, tell a story, design an infographic, walk your readers through how to do something. 

Or you may even consider switching up the type of content you’re sharing. Instead of writing out your content, mix things up by recording a video, hosting weekly webinars, or starting a podcast!

Is your brand and website a little outdated and lackluster? Give it a refresh! 

Has it been awhile since you’ve evaluated your marketing strategies? Mix things up by getting creative with Instagram stories, taking advantage of Facebook Live, or starting a new series for your mailing list.

Of course you still want to be intentional and strategic, but mixing things up can breathe new life into your workdays, excite you, and draw your audience’s attention back to your business.

So if you’re stuck in a rut and disinterested in your current approach to content and marketing, spend some time reevaluating and brainstorming. 

Quick tip: My brainstorm sessions are the most productive when I bounce ideas off of Jake or my assistants. You may find it helpful to recruit the help of a business-savvy friend to help you, too! 

3  |  Set boundaries and schedule breaks

You’ve set goals, mixed things up, and (hopefully) have some newfound excitement in your business. 

And while that’s all fine and dandy, it’s even more important to take measures to ensure that you don’t hit a wall again in the future. 

Prevent against burnout from here on out by setting boundaries and scheduling breaks. 

This might look a little bit different for everyone. But for me this looks like:

Setting office hours. Working 10-hour days didn’t seem quite so exhausting in my first year of business, but they quickly caught up with me over the last 2 years. Setting office hours has allowed me to have a life outside of my business and prioritize. It also motivates me to get more work done from 9-5, treat it like a regular job, and have others (peers, friends, and family) take my business more seriously. 

Scheduling uninterrupted vacations. I used to take my laptop with me on trips. I spent time (that I should’ve been spending with family) answering emails and writing blog posts instead. No more. I’m putting my autoresponder up, leaving my laptop at home, and reminding myself that my business won’t fall apart if I’m MIA for a week (or two).

Treating myself. I’m going to take a day off every now and then and provide incentives for reaching goals (look out world, I’m getting crazy). I would do the same for my assistants, so why have I been exempting myself?

Picking up a new hobby outside of my business. Running a business can be all-consuming. It’s like a baby; you’re always on the clock caring for it and helping it grow. And because of all the time and effort you put into it, it can easily become your identity and the place where you find your worth. That’s a dangerous road to go down. Even though your business may revolve around something you love (like design), it’s important to have other interests outside of it. I’ve been reading a lot more lately and I’m going to start picking up my paintbrush again for the first time since art school. I may even take piano lessons or finally learn how to swim. Who knows! But I’m excited for even entertaining these thoughts and doing something apart from Elle & Company.

Making time for exercising and being active. Working early in the morning, late at night, and during the weekend doesn’t leave much time for extracurriculars, but it definitely doesn’t leave time for exercise. I started doing Crossfit early last fall and it’s been an awesome stress reliever. I also feel a lot better about sitting in front of a computer all day when I’ve worked out for an hour each morning. 

Turning off phone notifications. Talk about all-consuming. When you have notifications constantly popping up from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and your inbox, you’re going to find it hard to truly step away from your business at the end of the day. And even when you are working, notifications can interrupt focused work. I would rather intentionally choose to look at my inbox or get on social media than to be interrupted by it all day long.

Refusing to check or reply to email after hours. Above all other things in my business, email causes me the most amount of stress and headache. I got in the bad habit of checking my inbox at all hours of the day, especially outside of work hours. And even though I wouldn’t reply outside of office hours, I would worry about the amount of emails and stress out because they were hanging over my head. No longer. I’ve already found so much peace of mind from resolving to check and reply to emails during allocated times throughout my workday.

Like I said, your boundaries and breaks might look different from mine. 

But take some time to evaluate what got you to this point and make changes to guard against burnout in the future.

I’m no longer a skeptic; burnout is a real thing.

If you’re burnt out and exhausted from pouring into your business, focus on exciting goals and mix things up to bring the spark back.

Take precautions and set boundaries to prevent burnout in the future.

Have you experienced burnout? What goals are you working toward? How are you planning to mix things up? And what boundaries are you setting to guard against it in the future?