Burnout and the Indie Author
Signs You're Burning Out
Lack of energy. You feel exhausted most of the time, even though you haven’t done anything particularly physically taxing.
Lack of sleep. You can’t sleep even though you felt exhausted all day.
Foggy Brain. You find yourself easily distracted and forgetful. It’s hard to focus on anything for more than a few minutes.
Morning Lethargy. Instead of waking up eager to start your day, you wake up dreading it.
Thick, Heavy Headaches. The kind that feel like you’re wearing a fifty pound helmet of pain.
These are my signs. You probably could add to the list with your own.
Burnout for Entrepreneurs
Burnout tends to hit us when we are at our busiest, when we’re under tight deadlines with mountains of work to be done. Obviously burnout isn’t going to hit us during easy times. It’s the overwork, high pressure and stress that cause it.
But here’s the thing; when we’re burning out, we’re not doing our best work, and our businesses are going to suffer as a result. During periods of burnout, our productivity decreases even as our hours nose-to-grindstoning increase.
More importantly, our health can suffer too. Burnout weakens our immune systems, making us more susceptible to everything from colds and flu to far more serious matters. Insomnia can rapidly become depression or anxiety.
In my experience, you either take care of your body or it forces you to. Keep pushing yourself beyond your limits, and something is going to break down. [bctt tweet=”The Universe is always conspiring in your favor, even when it gives you the flu. www.BlissBlog.org” username=”@maggieshayne”]
What to Do About it
No matter how tight the deadline or how big the workload, when burnout looms, we have to stop. It really is the only cure. We need to shut down and walk away. I know, I know you think it’s impossible, but it’s not, and I’m going to tell you why so you won’t stop reading right here.
Your success and abundance has no correlation to the number of hours you put in. Want proof? How many people do you know are working 2 or 3 jobs? Are they wealthy as a result? The truth is that it’s the joy you experience from what you do that will determine how much reward it brings you. It’s the joy. Not the hours. It’s the pleasure, not the work ethic. Just as it is the joy you take in every part of your life that is the measure of your success.
Some writers come out of the blue, do no PR at all, and become mega-bestsellers. Other writers spend more than they earn on promotion, learn every algorithm trick in the book, and still only sell a handful of copies.
But if you’re happy doing what you love, it will pay off big time. And the first (and most important, though some of you don’t believe that) way it pays off is by you spending your time doing what you love and calling it work. How blessed are we to be writers?
And when you spend your life happy, content, doing work you love, and living a life that feeds your soul with joy, then abundance is a natural, inevitable side effect. Unless you don’t want it, and not everyone does.
And so the money will come, and it will come whether you spend 10 hours a day at the computer or 2. Unless those hours you spend are miserable. And do you know what the result of hours spent in misery is? More misery. You attract what you are.
Now I know all this, and I’ve been putting it to use for a long time, and my business has taken off and money started getting really good. And the better it got the harder I worked, based on the notion that I had to keep it that way. I really liked this new level of income. I’d better jump on the treadmill and run like hell to keep it from going away.
But what good is working your tail off if you never take time to enjoy the fruits of your labor?
Life isn’t about work, sister-scribes. It’s about living.
How to Unplug
This week, I had time between the 3rd draft and 4th & final draft, while the book is with my firstborn daughter and editor Jena. I gave it to her Tuesday. She made me. I would’ve done another pass. I can’t seem to stop working on this book. Anyway, I handed it over, realized I was mentally exhausted, and was inspired to step away from the work, and take a true week off. And it was only when I shut the computer down and walked away from it, outside into the sunshine, that I realized how very much time I’ve been spending staring at that electronic screen. Way too much.
All week, since Tuesday, I’ve deliberately avoided the computer. I’ve worked on my lawn and garden. I’ve cleaned my house. I’ve spent time outside in my pergola just listening to birds and watching sunsets. I’ve meditated and read. I’ve relaxed.
And in that relaxed state, I was able to see how my work schedule has been gradually growing longer and more grueling month after month. I used to be really good about being present in my life, not just in my business. But our stories are our babies. We like playing in them, or we wouldn’t be storytellers. And we like running businesses and doing promotion or we wouldn’t be independent authors. It creeps up you you. And it had crept up on me.
Armed with this new insight, thanks to the break I took on instinct, and now realize was crucial, I intend to revisit that schedule. I’m going to spend more time in my life, every single day, than I spend in my business. I think that’s a solid and reasonable goal. Spend more time in your life than in your business.
So I’ll set a reasonable daily writing goal that’s easily achievable. If I write more than 2 hours, the results aren’t as good anyway. 90 minutes is pretty much the maximum amount of time top notch writing can spill out of me. Every minute beyond that goes downhill.
I’m also going to set some reasonable limits on my online time. Between personal and professional email, social media, online financial management, blogging, and promotion, I can easily kill 6 hours a day online.
Life, my sister-friends, was meant to be lived. We did not come to Planet Earth to get things done. We came to experience this magnificent paradise planet and the thrill of physical existence, complete with all the sensual pleasures that come with that. The smells and sounds and tastes. The feel of the sun on our skin, the soft green grass beneath our bare feet. The taste of ice cold water sliding down our throats. The smell of apple blossoms and the way it looks like it’s snowing soft pink petals when they fall free from the trees.
If you pay attention, I think you’ll find that the harder you work, the lower your income will fall. And the more you bask in the absolute joy and wonder of your life and your business, the higher it will rise. [bctt tweet=”I work when it’s fun. When it’s not fun, I go find something that is. www.blissblog.org” username=”@MaggieShayne”]
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