Ben Bierman

JOHANNESBURG – As from next year, burnout will become a globally recognised medical condition as it is formally added to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases. Caused by chronic work-related stress, burnout can lead to emotional and physical fatigue, insomnia, and a shortened attention span – all of which can negatively affect businesses. 

Herewith are tips that can work as a guide:

Prioritising: The to-do list might look overwhelming, but if tasks are broken into more manageable segments and prioritise in terms of urgency, it is easier to take on the day. Have realistic expectations about how much you can achieve in a day, week or month and what level of productivity you can reach at your optimum. This will help to know when you should cut yourself some slack.

Structure: When running your own business, it is imperative to work smart, not just hard. Correct time management is a big part of that. Try to stick to regular business hours as much as possible and make appointments with yourself to get things done, while allowing adequate time for day-to-day business admin and filing.

Downtime: Make time to step back and take stock every now and again. While it might seem counter-intuitive, you still need to take vacations and fully unplug, in order to stay on top of your game. During the working day, try your best to take a lunch or coffee break, or go for a brisk walk around the block. Even switching up your office environment for a change of scenery can help you to recharge. 

Evaluation: When you enjoy what you do and are excited by it, it feels less like hard work, and you’ll have more energy to take on the day. If you find yourself demotivated, re-evaluate if the company is going in the direction you want it to. It could be that you’re getting too caught up in operations or admin tasks that would be better serviced by an assistant or delegated to your team. 

Practice: You can only work at your optimum if you are at your healthiest – both physically and mentally. That’s why it’s key to ensure you maintain a healthy work-life balance, which includes working out regularly, eating right and practising mindfulness. Even though you’re a business owner, you’re still a human being with emotions and social needs, so establish boundaries and learn when to say no. 

Support: A business owner is only as strong as their team. Make sure you have a good management team in place, and look to take on a mentor for guidance, as you are not going to know how to do everything all the time. Know when to ask for help and consider bringing in professionals or a consultant for specific projects that might be out of your scope. 

Delegation: To continue on from the above point, it’s imperative to be able to delegate work properly. As a business owner, you might feel like you can do it all, but this is not sustainable. It’s important to acknowledge your weaknesses, and then look to line up support in those areas. In turn, this will help to best maximise the use of your time and the impact of your skills.

Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited.