Business burnout is a sneaky culprit that drains us of the energy, creativity and drive we need to accomplish our goals.

So often, we can be suffering from burnout without even realizing that’s the issue. We think maybe we just need to be more productive, or maybe we need to bring someone else on the team. Or worse yet, we think we’re doing it all wrong and if only we knew that one missing thing, everything would fall into place.

And, so, we get pulled into this endless loop of thinking we need to work harder. Work harder, work longer hours, and all the work will get done, right?

Ahem — wrong.

How Business Burnout Occurs

When we work longer hours and focus simply on cramming more into our already full plates, we often end up accomplishing far less than we imagine. Because here’s the thing: Working harder is not the same as working smarter.

When we work long hours, day after day with no time to recharge, we end up in a state of business burnout — tired, stressed, and generally over it. This leads to dumb mistakes that we wouldn’t otherwise make that then results in an even longer to-do list.

Business burnout also often zaps us of the actual tools we need to get the work done. If you’re a designer and need to be creative, that’s hard to do when you’re overworked. Or, if you’re an accountant who needs critical thinking to produce financial analysis, it’s hard to do that when you’re not firing on all cylinders.

The end result of forcing yourself to work harder and to work longer hours is often a drop in productivity overall. When your to-do list is a mile long, this is likely the very last thing you need.

So instead of working longer hours and being your own scary taskmaster, let’s consider some other approaches for avoiding business burnout.

Stop and Walk Away

Yes, often the very first step to preventing business burnout is to simply stop and get some perspective. When we’re caught up in the endless things we need to do, it can be very hard to keep our eye on what’s actually important. Instead of staying stuck in the mess, the very best thing to do is to get away from the thick of it.

Once you’ve gotten away from what’s causing the overwhelm, it can be far easier to work out some viable strategies to tackle it. These are much harder to see when you’re knee-deep in notifications, overdue tasks, and endless requests for more and more from you.

If you make an effort to disconnect from all of this, you’re also taking the first step towards spending time outside your normal environment.

You’ve probably heard of the brilliant ideas that hit people when they’re on the subway or out for a walk in the park. When you spend time outside your normal work environment, you’re giving your brain a break. This can help you in so many ways — including refreshing your energy and allowing your subconscious mind the time it needs to work out the solution without you actively forcing the issue.

Prioritize Yourself

Taking proper care of yourself often goes out the window when you’re overwhelmed, but this is an essential part of being a high performer. When you feel the urge to burn the candle at both ends to get things done, focus instead on how you can take better care of yourself!

Start with establishing some boundaries with your clients or reviewing your existing ones. Remember, working effectively usually doesn’t happen when you’re working 12-14 hour days. Set reasonable expectations for your work hours that are conducive to your other responsibilities and activities outside of work.

Look at how much sleep you’re getting and adjust accordingly. Consider diet and exercise as well as filling your tank with non-work related fun!

These steps will all help you rest and recharge so that you’re better prepared to tackle your to-do list.

Then, Make a Plan

After you’re feeling less burned out, it’s time to make a strategic plan to get you back on track. Focus on turning your overwhelm into action by making deliberate choices on what to do, what to delete, what to outsource, and what to delay. For more on this, be sure to check out how to get started with outsourcing.

With the proper time and space to rest and recharge, you’ll be far better equipped to make productive and efficient use of your work time. This is a better situation overall for your sanity and your business.

Avoid business burnout so you can thrive.