Avoiding burn out when you are self employed

Knowledge base from Boox

By Lynne Gowers on 9th June 2015

Avoiding burn out when you are self employed

For self-motivated people who want to be their own boss, taking the self-employed route over an office-based role can be a dream come true. When you’re a contractor or a freelancer, you have a real opportunity to set your own schedule, pursue your own goals and do the work you truly enjoy, without having to answer to anyone else.

However, if you don’t manage your workload correctly, your dream job can quickly turn into a nightmare. When you run your own business, it’s easy to get into the mindset that the more work you take on, the better, as more clients means more revenue. However, if you bite off more than you can chew, it’s inevitable that the quality of your work and your service will suffer, making this a potentially disastrous long-term strategy.

Signs you might be taking on too much work

Of course, most sensible entrepreneurs will be well aware of this fact on an intellectual level, but it’s when you’re preoccupied with the daily grind and hurrying to meet deadlines, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees, making it tricky to see where you’ve gone wrong before it’s too late to fix it.

As such, it’s important to look for the telltale signs that things may be starting to go awry with your business, so you can get out of the habit of overworking yourself and nip these potentially fatal problems in the bud.

An unfocused working structure

Escaping the rigid structure of office-based work is often a key factor motivating people to become self-employed, but if you’re starting to feel like your day has become entirely structureless, then it’s a clear sign that things are going badly.

You should be starting each day with a defined set of tasks, goals and objectives laid out, even if you do leave yourself room to be flexible. Feeling like you have so much work that you don’t know where to start is indicative of a problem that needs to be fixed, as is the sensation of being dragged from task to task to meet endless deadlines you can’t keep up with.

An imbalance between input and output

Producing a clear return on your investment is a basic business principle that should never be ignored, and it applies to your time and energy just as much as it does to your money. If you have your nose to the grindstone all day with little to show for it in terms of tangible progress, then you need to review what you’re doing.

If you’re in this position, it’s worth considering whether you’re charging enough for your services. Small start-up businesses often fall into the trap of undercutting themselves to attract customers, but in the long term this will mean you need to clock more hours to stay afloat, while encouraging customers to undervalue your services.

A difficult relationship with phone calls and emails

Your mobile phone and email inbox are likely to be the bedrock of your business communications if you work freelance, but it’s important to ensure your relationship with these tools remains healthy and balanced.

If you find yourself terrified of checking your inbox or voicemail due to an expected deluge of messages, or spending more time responding to client queries and requests than doing your actual work, it’s probably time to review your workload.

A lack of time for yourself

Self-employed people are extremely motivated and proactive individuals, but there’s a difference between being a hard worker and having to completely forsake your own personal needs to service the endless daily requirements of your business.

It’s vital that contractors have some time for themselves to switch off, disengage from their work, pursue their own interests and get some much-needed rest, as all of these things are essential to working productively, as well as being a rounded person. If your job is making these things impossible, that’s a bad sign.

A diminished sense of purpose

As mentioned earlier, the ability to enjoy your work, control your destiny and be in full control of the important decisions in your life is, for many people, the whole point of being self-employed. If you’ve taken on so much work that you’re no longer able to enjoy these benefits or see the point of what you’re doing, you aren’t just letting your clients down – you’re failing yourself.

It’s therefore vital for contractors to ensure they can spot these issues when they arise and correct them in order to get their careers and lives back on the right track. Here’s some other reasons why you might want to turn down the offer of new work.

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