Burning the Candle at Both Ends: Tips to Avoid Burnout

Amiee Bolger

Burnout. The one word no founder wants to hear, let alone experience. It’s easy for you to burn the candle at both ends when there’s not enough time in the day to get your ever-lengthening to-do-list done. Who’s guilty of saying the phrase ‘just one more hour’? Or ‘I’ll give myself a break after this call’? Only, those hours keep adding up and those calls keep coming thick-and-fast.

Longer hours and mounting stress can lead you to the dreaded burnout, which is characterised by three dimensions: energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from your job, and reduced professional efficacy… Anyone else feeling stressed just learning about burnout?

Burnout is something more and more people are becoming aware of. We live in a world that doesn’t sleep; from conversations and news being 24/7 on the internet and social media, to ‘grind culture’ and being always available to everyone, it’s no wonder burnout is an increasing feeling amongst everyone, especially startup founders.

So, instead of dwelling on the negatives, here are some tips on how to avoid founder burnout.

1.     Building a team you trust

One of the most important things to consider with any job you go into is the team you’re working with, that can make or break you. Having a team who are just as passionate, hard-working, trustworthy, and know when to get silly, is one of the best things to have to fight workplace burnout.

You don’t want to start your day feeling unsupported, worried, or like you can’t talk to your team properly, as that will set you off on a bad foot instantly. Being able to have open and comfortable communication with your team, to let them know how you’re feeling, what needs to be done, and knowing that they will get the job done will take the pressure off.

This leads us to the next tip…

2.     Sharing the workload

No one is a superhuman. You may feel like you need to do everything yourself to get it done exactly how you want, but that isn’t always possible. You’ve built a team and hired them for a reason, so let them take on work. It’s what everyone is here for.

3.     Build the right work culture for you

Startups are in the best position to cultivate a workplace culture that is unique and works for them. As a founder, you’re not bound to any specific rules and that means you can work however is best for you. You can be as flexible as you want, or work within a timeframe that means you have a routine. You can break down taboos and create conversations surrounding mental health and workload, not only for you, but your team as well.

4.     Make time to have fun with your team

One of my favourite things about working at blazon is our weekly team meetings. One person of the team takes the floor and brings a game or activity for all of us to do. It’s about an hour or so for us all to touch base, be silly, and not focus on work. It’s amazing how much of a difference that can make to your work week, and how good it is for team building.

It doesn’t need to be anything big or special either; there are many free, online games you can play over Zoom or Teams, or even something like conducting a quiz in Slack. We’ve even followed an origami tutorial to make sunglasses and a sword. The opportunities are endless.

5.     Take time off

This is a biggie. You may feel like, as a founder, there is no way you’ll be able to take time off from work. It can feel daunting and like it’ll be impossible to switch-off from your founder-brain. Though, taking time off can refresh your mind and give your emotional wellbeing a boost – making you fighting fit for work when you return.

You may not have any plans or feel like you want to do anything, but having that time set aside is one of the best things you can do to avoid burning out.

In conclusion…

These are not the only ways you can avoid burnout as a founder, but some tips to get you going. Working all the time may seem like the right thing to do, however, taking care of yourself as a founder and a human is definitely the right thing.