What Should You Do When You’re Burned Out?

Young tired, upset, exhausted businessman feeling a mess, dragging feet home after hard working day, cartoon vector illustration with place for text. Businessman, employee sad, upset, tired

I remember the moment clearly. We had finally gotten to $100K per month in revenue. This should have been a moment of celebration because $100K per month is when you’ve hit escape velocity. If you just keep at it, you’ll be at $1 million per month in no time flat.

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However, all I could think about was how fucking tired I was. All in, I’d been working on building the company for six years at this point:

  • One year to get the team together
  • Two years to raise the money
  • One year to get our first products out
  • Two years to get to $1 million per year in revenue

You need to take vacations when you’re building your startup.

Fortunately, we (my family) had a vacation coming up the month after we hit $100K per month in revenue. I’d found vacations to be my salvation, my respite from all the craziness of building the company.

We went away on vacation every year I was CEO. The trips were great because I got to spend quality time with Blossom and Avery.

Just as importantly, the time away from the office recharged me. Yeah, I was still checking in every day, but it’s different when you’re on vacation.

Instead of 99% of your energy going into work, maybe it’s down to 80% (LOL!). But that 19% change in focus is everything. At least you have a little time to decompress.


Then when you’re back at the office, there are other things you can do to help yourself cope.


A. Start with meditation.


Meditation didn’t initially work for me. In fact, it took me a while before I realized the positive effect meditation was having.

There are some great free resources online. My favorite is Tara Brach’s website (www.tarabrach.com). Meditation will not solve all your problems. But meditation will keep you more in the moment. Then…


B. Have a morning routine.


My morning routine consists of exercising, meditation, journaling, and reading. It takes maybe an hour.

The exercise starts you off on a positive note because there’s nothing like getting the endorphins going first thing in the morning. Meditating helps give me focus.

The journaling (along with visualizing my day) is designed to for me realize the positive things that are happening. Finally, I read an inspirational book or story for about five minutes. Since you have a morning routine…


C. You need an evening routine too.


An evening routine primes you for the next day. And when you’re feeling burned out, your evening routine can remind you of all the things that went well.

My evening routine includes more positive journaling. I write down three things that went well during the day. Even a really bad day has three things that went well.

I write down three acts of service I did for others. I finish my journaling by asking what did I learn today, what did I do well today, and what am I going to do with what I learned today.

Now, I’m in a good frame of mind and ready for bed. This leads to…


D. Get your sleep.


A couple of years ago I was introduced to the incredible book, Why We Sleep. It was a life changer.

The book is written by Andrew Walker, a professor at UC Berkeley who studies the importance of sleep.

Why We Sleep is a must read for any startup CEO. Simply put, you’ll pay dearly if you don’t get the right amount of sleep you need, just like I did.

Did you know that if you go without sleep for around 14 days you will die?

Did you know that your chances of getting Alzheimers Disease go way up if you don’t get enough sleep every night? This is around 7 to 8 hours for most adults.

Did you know that you can’t make up for your lack of sleep during the week on the weekends?

Did you know that drinking alcohol at night affects your quality of sleep?

So, after getting scared by the information Dr. Walker was sharing in Why We Sleep, I decided to make some life changes.

I decided I was going to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night. I got to bed earlier and I woke up a little later. And, when I wake up in the middle of the night, I use meditation to get myself quickly back to sleep.

The changes I made prioritizing sleep made a dramatic change in the quality of my life. Here’s what I found:

  1.  My energy level is higher, and…
  2. I am much more focused resulting in…
  3. My productivity increasing, plus…
  4. I’m more creative, and…
  5. I’m getting more done than I was in less time, and, all in all…
  6. ’m happier

Not too bad. And it’s so easy to do. You just need to get to bed a little earlier and wake up a little bit later.


E. Take naps if you’re short on sleep.


On the nights where I struggle and I was really dragging, I would get in my car at lunch and I’d drive to an empty parking lot.

I’d park my car in the shade, and I’d set a timer to wake me in fifteen minutes. Then I’d put my seat as flat as I could get it, and I’d try to get a short nap in.

This gave me the energy I’d need to get through the rest of the day.


F. Taking a walk during the day helps too.


You can’t just be in the office all day if you’re feeling burned out.

I used to enjoy going for a walk during lunch with just me and my thoughts. Sometimes I would call my advisor or coach. Now, I saved one of my favorites for last…


G. Just get out and sell.


Do you want to remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing? Visit some customers. Win some business. Plus visiting customers gets you out of the office away from all the stressful stuff.

Winning business triggers so many positive emotions. Winning business helps you dig in and fight even harder for your business.


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