10 signs you are pushing your limits or overworking
When you are managing a small business, you can get totally caught up in running and developing it to the extent that it takes over your life.
Most of us work longer hours at what we do because we have a passion for it, and that is often to the detriment of our own health — and often to time spent with family. Neither of these is good for you or your business in the long term, so you need to make sure you get some balance. More importantly, you need to be aware of the signs of burnout.
So what are the telltale signs of overworking?
Here are a few that colleagues and I noticed in ourselves when we got overwhelmed with work during the last few months. Then I got man flu and kidney stones at the same time, and my friend drove his car in to a ditch after having a micro-sleep on the way home after a 65-hour week.
- You get home later and later, and your family start to accept it as the norm.
- As work builds, you may experience mild symptoms of tension and edginess. That’s anxiety, and as you move closer to burnout, the anxiety may become so serious that it interferes in your ability to work productively. More hours won’t solve that problem.
- You find yourself ignoring warning signs of illness and put off getting medical attention because “you can’t take time out” to see a doctor.
- You start noticing changes to things around home that were not discussed with you because your spouse just gave up asking for time to discuss it and you kept saying later.
- You begin to criticise other people for going home at normal hours, and you ignore their circumstances.
- You cannot remember the last time you simply had time out with family and friends, and fun times are something you talk about but are not experiencing for yourself of late.
- You continually tell yourself and your partner that this is just a really busy period and that you will take a break soon. Chances are that you have been saying that for years rather than months.
- You begin to make easy decisions rather than the right ones because the right ones take too much effort. This could even be sending flowers for your spouse’s birthday or a voucher for your child because you can’t take the time to put some effort in to finding a present for them.
- When you do catch a bug or an injury, you suffer more than normal. You are experiencing physical and emotional exhaustion as your immune system becomes weakened.
- You may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep — even one or two nights a week is a symptom. As burnout catches hold, insomnia may turn into a persistent, nightly ordeal; you can’t sleep even though you are exhausted.
Sound like anyone you know?
So let’s be honest, are you experiencing some of these symptoms? If the answer is yes, then step back and take some time to honestly assess the amount of stress in your life. Maybe get a check-up and take a long weekend to focus on you or do something totally different.
Burnout isn’t like the flu; it doesn’t go away after a few weeks unless you make some changes in your lifestyle.
Last week I took Friday off. I spent the whole weekend away from my iPad, out in the garden painting fences and playing with our German Shepherd. I even made dinner one evening, which scared the life out of my wife. The world didn’t end, the business didn’t collapse and my wife nudged me on Sunday and said “I wish you could be home like this more often”.
And as hard as that may seem, especially when your business is thriving, you need to be in it for the long term for it to really pay off. Make sure you are keeping your mind and body fit for the challenge, and nurture your family relationships because success can be lonely if you have no one to share it with.