As the summer months collide with post-pandemic demand, service-based businesses have their foot on the gas trying to keep up. While being busy is a good sign for business, managing that busyness is key to preventing burnout.

According to Psychology Today, burnout is a state of emotional, mental and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress. Doesn’t sound fun, does it?

Rather than accepting the hustle and bustle and continually telling yourself: “It’ll slow down” or “I can handle this,” I challenge you to take a step back and reevaluate your strategies to cultivate a healthy work-life balance to achieve long-term work-life sustainability.

Here are some tips for becoming unbusy and heading off burnout:

Stop Being Proud of Being Busy

Being busy isn’t a badge of honor. Unfortunately, in today’s always-on world, we often hold busyness up on a pedestal. Bragging about each item we’ve checked off on our always-growing to-do list. I mean, if you aren’t constantly working – are you really doing all you can?

This isn’t the right attitude. Being too busy can easily become overwhelming and unmotivating. As a small business owner, you may feel like you must always be checking items off your list to keep your service-based business afloat.

So rather than being proud of being busy and continually focusing on what’s next, be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

Did you respond to a negative review and make a customer happy again? Awesome. Did you show up to all your appointments on time? Keep up the great work. Have you sent out invoices for all outstanding projects? Look at you go!

Refocus Your Priorities

First things first. Make a list of all the tasks you must do each day or week for your business. From here, figure out which of these need to happen now; which tasks should happen but not necessarily within a given timeframe; and which tasks can either be removed completely or handed off to a team member or technology. For example:

  • Do you need to follow up with clients about upcoming appointments? You could use online appointment scheduling and set up text message reminders.
  • Do you spend hours fiddling with your team’s schedules? Consolidate your team members’ schedules onto one calendar for proper staffing and streamlined employee availability.
  • Does creating invoices take too long and leave you out of the loop? Leverage free online tools like our Free Invoice Generator for fast, easy, professional-looking invoices.

By being intentional with your to-do list you can focus on the tasks that need to get done, rather than trying to multitask.

Not only will this allow you to feel less overwhelmed, but it can also increase your productivity and prevent mistakes – which in the long run can end up costing you even more time.

For more ways technology can make managing your day-to-day easier, check out this blog.

Find Freedom in Saying “No”

We are in a weird period of history right now. Before you keep reading, pat yourself on the back for running or starting a small business during a global pandemic.

While the last year and a half have been an extremely loopy roller coaster ride, we are coming out on the other side. But – you are getting busier as people return to their normal lives. Getting haircuts, training their pets, fixing up their homes, you name it.

While it can be tempting to say yes to each request that walks through your door, remember that you need to ensure that you and your staff can keep up. Believe it or not, saying no to a new job can be the right call, when:

  • Your staff can’t keep up with the current workload
  • If you’re short-staffed due to unfilled job openings
  • You know a client is going to be difficult or cause a project to drag out longer than usual

By saying “no” you’re allowing yourself to focus on the jobs you do accept, providing each customer a better experience. Now, there are a variety of reasons to say “no” to new businesses. Here are some examples and how to politely decline a job without upsetting your customers.

Staying busy all the time may seem like the right thing for your business, but busyness goes hand in hand with burnout. Finding the balance between being productive and simply being busy takes time.

But, in the long run, the effort you put into maintaining a manageable workload and work-life balance will provide you and your staff a more enjoyable and efficient work environment.