5 Tips: How to Avoid Burnout

I’ve been in the yarn business since 2008. Since then, I’ve seen a lot of designers and yarn companies come and go. The reasons for businesses ending are varied, but the most common is burnout.

burnout definition

I’ve heard of countless designers and yarnies working 12 hour days without taking a day off… and a couple of years later, they leave the industry. They’re burned out.

Burnout is avoidable!

As I enter my 7th year of doing business, I’m more energized and passionate about what I do than ever! One of the secrets to my success is discovering a work/life balance that allows me to succeed for years on end.

cartoon lawyer

Like life, business is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to take care of yourself for the long haul if you want to succeed. Here are a few of my tips!

Tip 1: Picture your fantasy day

On my fantasy work day, I: have time to take a run in the morning, pack a few boxes to ship out, crochet a new design, answer emails and poke around on social media.

Notice… my perfect day doesn’t include managing assistants, winding hundreds of kits or interacting with subcontractors for my designs.

office worker cartoon

In a recent reader survey, there are always requests for more kits, more designs or more blog posts. But I know that it’s important for my longevity to do what’s manageable. That means I don’t sell as many kits as humanly possible: I sell as many as I can practically make and be happy.

Tip 2: Know when to say ‘no’

I wake up every morning happy and ready to do my job (except on weekends… more on that, later!). One reason for that is that I’m doing things I truly enjoy.

Recently, my publisher talked to me about doing another book. And I said, ‘not right now’. It would make my life too hectic to do one right now. Even though it’s turning down an opportunity, I didn’t take the offer.

It’s easy to think you have to take every opportunity that comes your way, or else you’ll be missing out. But that logic puts you on the fast track to burnout.

Tip 3: Take time off

I don’t work past 6pm on weekdays or on weekends unless there is some special event going on (such as the Kit Club shipment or a weekend teaching event). Taking this regular time off is important for recharging.

Road Trip

I also put up an auto-reply on my email and go on vacation.

Yes, I earn less money when I’m on vacation. But, I don’t lose business or customers. I think that’s an important distinction.

My readers & customers know that I’m a human, and they understand that I need to take a break. They don’t unsubscribe from my blog because I’m on vacation for a week. And the benefits of coming back recharged are well worth it!

Tip 4: Identify where the pressure is coming from

Why do you feel compelled to work 12 hours a day without weekends? Does it come from deadlines? Your customers? Or yourself?

And take a little time to chew on this question: where will your business be if you continue on this path?

You may think you’re doing your customers a service by working your hands to the bone, but if you end up quitting in a year because it’s too much… that’s sad!

stressed worker

Just to be blunt: customers will make requests without end. They will ask for more yarn to be posted. They will beg for more blog posts. They will request extra designs this month. These are compliments! But they shouldn’t be taken as demands on your schedule… only you can decide which requests will fit into your life.

Tip 5: Realize next week is no different

How did last week go? Did you feel like a million things snuck up on you and you were struggling to catch a breath?

What’s going to make next week different?

Many of us get into a habit of accepting too many projects and then running like crazy to get them all done… thinking, ‘oh, it’ll clear up soon’. Your schedule isn’t going to clear up unless you make it (see tip #2 and say no to those extras!)

Are you in it for the long haul?

These tips don’t just apply to business… they apply to a volunteer job, your housework, your hobby… anything!

Have you experienced burnout from going full throttle? Or do you have tips to share for avoiding it?

4 replies on “5 Tips: How to Avoid Burnout

  • Delight

    Love this post, Stacey! I think this is so important because I’ve experienced burnout in my teaching career and it’s awful! Even though I love teaching, I was grouchy and felt angry all the time. I just needed a break.

    Now that I have a different teaching job, I’m able to also work on my crochet on the side. I do hear about others working crazy long hours and sometimes wonder if I should be doing the same, so I love hearing that you don’t, and you’re very successful! I like to be busy and work, but time off and vacations are super important too. :) Thanks!

  • Nadia

    Thanks for the great post, Stacey! I have experienced burnout before and your tips are spot on. When it happened to me I stopped listening to my body and thought how much I could do in a day was simply based on my will to do it, not on whether or not I was coping or miserable. Now when I am feeling like I need a break I take one – even if it means saying no to opportunities. I loved your tip about next week not being different – I was always telling myself that next week would be different, but it never was because I would just take on more by next week. Thank you for reminding us to take care of ourselves – there is a reason they say you have to put your own oxygen mask on first, you can’t help others if you don’t also look after yourself! Too often people aren’t willing to look human to other people and you are a great role model :)

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