The initial phase of building a business from ground up was utter euphoria. Months went by and I was excited, ready to jump out of bed, get the kids ready and rush to my store. Get there before anyone else did so that I could get a jumpstart on the pending work that kept piling up exponentially.
As the days unraveled fast, I felt like I was being sucked into this really fierce vortex. Skipping lunch and living on coffee, working at the back wearing numerous hats simultaneously became the new normal. By the time I was at kids carpool, I was exhausted and felt like I hadn't even moved an inch closer to the pile of work.
Bringing the kids back home and getting their homework done should have been easy. But when you start multi-tasking with one hand on the phone, the other on the iPad responding to emails and eyes on the kids, everything seemed to take twice as much time to get done.
I convinced myself that I was the queen of multitasking. And felt proud when people asked me how I did it all, hey news flash, I am a superwoman, did you not know that? My husband kept reminding me to slow down, I always gave him an incredulous look.
Going for months together without taking a break, working seven days a week gave me a false sense of pride. If I take a break, I am not working toward my goals, I thought. Little did I know that I was doing a huge disservice to myself.
I remember that day as clear as distilled water. I was going on full steam for almost a year now. It was a normal day, I dropped the kids off at school, got to work. I was plain annoyed. At everything. So I just shut the door and threw myself at the long list of to-do's. Skipped lunch as usual and kept going.
When I picked up the kids from school, I didn't feel like talking and wanted them to be completely silent. My little babies knew something was wrong, mom is generally goofing off with us on our drive back, what's wrong with her? A dull headache came on and I felt exhausted. When we got home, I told the kids to go play in their room and mommy was going to take a quick nap on the couch for 10 minutes.
I wasn't sure how long I was asleep but I do remember waking up because the kids were fighting. I tried my best to tell them to be quiet in a half-asleep state but it didn't seem to work. I woke up with a start, groggy and disoriented and hopping mad. That's when I lost it. I yelled at my babies like there was no tomorrow. It was horrible. It felt like all my pent up anger, frustrations, annoyance was spewing out at my kids who were just being boys.
After my long long rant, I started crying. I just couldn't take it anymore. I felt a morbid exhaustion taking over me. I called my husband and asked him to come home immediately and for two whole days, I didn't come out of my room. I didn't feel like doing anything, I just wanted to curl up instead my comfy blanket and not come out. I was burnt out.
After I gave myself a couple of days to wallow in my own myriad feeling which was equal parts self-pity, anger, exhaustion, not caring, yet not able to let go and fear. I realized that the 2 days I had withdrawn from the world, life had kept going. My husband had the kids taken care of,the food was hot and on the table and the employees had the store under control.
I had learnt my lesson. The only thing I was doing by not taking care of myself was harming myself and my family. That's when I learnt some hard business lessons and decided to make positive changes to avoid burnout.
Build systems and processes in your business. Although we hear it all the time, we don't really get it. The best way to avoid burnout at work is to build a system and put processes in place. That's exactly what I did. I spent a week, creating the systems for my business. Brainstorming with the employees to come up with processes that would be efficient and that works for all. It was one of the most revelatory experience.
Setting up systems and processes in my business freed me up. It gave me time to get away from the mundane daily work and focus on my business. It gave me time to plan for the next 6 months versus struggling with the day to day quabbles. It gave my employees more autonomy hence making them feel responsible and motivating them to do more. Above all, it gave me time to get away to take care of myself.
Once I put the systems and processes in place, I didn't have to be present at the store all the time. I had put enough checks and balances in place that the system caught any errors.
We had more growth after the systems and processes were in place than ever before.
Learn to delegate. I learnt that wanting to be the superwoman did not mean that I had to control everything. I started delegating. At the store, when I created the systems and process, I kept myself out of the equation. I delegated all the tasks and I became the owner in the true sense of the word.
At home, I delegated tasks to my kids. It made them feel responsible and proud that they helped mommy out.
The quote from David Allen became my new mantra "You can do anything, but not everything".
Stop multitasking. Multitasking is the most misunderstood word and phenomena. It gives us a false sense of accomplishment. For the longest time, I felt like when I was multitasking, I was being efficient. Little did I realize that it was burning me out. I have since decided to be present in the now.
Whatever I work on, I only focus on that task. If I am working on a marketing campaign, that's all I am doing. I am not on the phone, or have the emails open. When I am helping the kids with their homework, there are no devices around me. I have been doing this now for the past 2 years and I have accomplished so much more than I would have ever before.
You don't have to burn out to use these simple secrets in your life today. As they they prevention is better than cure, use these in your life and business and you will see a huge difference. And of course don't forget to get some "me" time.