Success and going hyper fast is all fun, but one of the topics lesser unspoken of is burnouts or recognizing when to take a step back.
I have had my fair share of burnouts, sleep deprivations or the constant mental tax debt floating around that I have to do this today instead of tomorrow.
Saw a Tweet yesterday about someone questioning herself that she can’t get back on track but everyone around her is at full speed.
My immediate response was: Turtle – Hare scenario.
Lots of them start strong, fast and furious even but rarely make it to the second quarter of the year. Let alone ride out an entire year. It’s not uncommon to see people ‘ship fast’, run hot for a quarter and disappear.
In my earlier days, I lied to myself too much. As in overextending myself making sacrifices I probably could have avoided.
Comparing my insides too much with someone else’s outsides. Thinking I had to work on the same pace or produce equally fast.
But time and experience gave me a lot of perspective. The worst part is that it often creeps up on you like a ninja in a John Woo movie and can be as destructive as a Michael Bay scene.
You might not always see the signs, but preventing self-destruction is better than fixing it.
Major Signs (I experienced)
The ones listed are coming from a personal experience. And not all of them will resonate or happened with you. Simply because each individual is differently built and level of tolerance varies from Tokyo to Vegas.
I completely undervalued the food cycle and types of food. Ever catch yourself sitting at your desk with a pizza box?
That was me, like 15 years ago.
I spiraled into a cycle where I neglected nutrition and no balance between proteins, vitamins or the much needed calories. Since a lot of times my brain required hyper focus and the ability to react in seconds (think day trading for example) I never understood the concept of great nutrition to perform better. Until I made mistakes and fuckups and another.
The moment I started ignoring better food, I should have known it was a step towards self-destruction. Took me ages to repair a bad habit. Once in a while, I am still guilty falling back into a pattern, but it’s short lived. It did happen last year during my insane run between the hospital and home.
Unable To Sleep
One of the items I press on in LaunchPad or starting entrepreneurs is sleep. I ask them often: ‘Can you sleep at night?’. Which I respond with a line like: ‘The ability to sleep at night is a luxury lot of starting business owners don’t have.‘
This could be related to risk, financial distress or ideas piling up that you’re so eager to execute. The latter was the main driver in early stage.
That took me years to master. To just shut down my Mac and walk away on time and knowing when to just stop thinking about problems or potential ideas you are eager to pursue.
When you have a few consecutive days or weeks and catch yourself not being able to fall asleep, it’s time to revisit your habits, your business model or MO in the evening and phase out 2 hours earlier than usual. Walk away from your desk and set boundaries.
It’s hard. Every entrepreneur has those days where ideas fly around and your cortex is sparked by positives or negatives.
Not giving two fucks about anything after let’s say 9PM, certainly helps. Setting hours like you work a traditional 9-5 is NOT that bad.
Not the same as the inability to sleep.
There are too many days I can remember I go to sleep super tired, and wake up 3 hours later, wide awake at 2 or 3 AM.
There are too many days I can remember I went to bed at impossible hours and affected my level of critical thinking or decision making process.
All because of… building bad cycles that disrupted my usual routine.
Once you go down this rabbit hole, it was ridiculously hard to climb out of it.
Okay, I wasn’t the best example in 2023. Because of personal circumstances with my wife’s cancer and going back and forth juggling between honoring my phone calls with others and work that needs to be done.
Difference was that I know what it does, or how to solve it once the storm is over.
The Must Finish Mentality
I take a break every hour of the day. 5 mins or 20 mins. It does not matter. But what I did figure out for myself is that standing up and walking away from my desk every hour worked for me. (Not saying that it will for you)
Lots of new entrepreneurs go with the must finish now mentality and 4 hours later, they’re still glued to their computer.
I would have done the same thing in the past, but that mentality leads to silent disasters.
No matter what you’re doing, there’s always something else. There will be another task and another and another.
Shit is never ending and it probably never will.
I uphold this strategy or approach for years now, and that was the better hack (for myself) to build enough stamina for possible longer days or to avoid physical pains such as lower back.
Taking sufficient shorter breaks can help you find clarity. It can also help you zoom out of the actual scope of your work that day. Flying too close to the sun will inflict burns. No difference here.
Using The Right Productivity Stack
Cheap can be very expensive. And by expensive I don’t always mean the price tag.
Everyone around me in FocusX or NanoBets know that I treat time as one of the purest commodities out there.
And my decison making process using the right tools hinges on the time factor or actions needed to execute.
I buy convenience and not headaches.
I advice lots of people to revise their current toolset and re-think their choices if deemed necessary.
Of course this is contingent on personal buying power and if you’re not in a position to go full premium then make an educated trade-off.
- Set a budget you’re willing to spend per month and stick with it
- Consider what kind of impact each platform has for you on a daily basis
- Consider if it’s more of a nice to have but not needed now
- Think about how many actions, clicks or time is spent to acquire the desired outcome
- Think about money vs time. If you were to spend X amount, how many minutes, hours or days can it save you per day, week, month or per year.
In many cases, free never really means free. Lots of free tools are great but there are tons of limitations where one needs to build an overly complicated stack to make it work as a whole.
Using the wrong tools (free or premium) can hinder your ability to thrive or work more efficiently in a shorter period of time.
Which would mean you can execute the same amount of tasks you set yourself for that day in a shorter period of time.
My advice: If you struggle working flexible enough with too many frictions, this might be the right time for you to re-visit your stack used. I do this every 6-12 months in case my internal process has changed too much.
Unable To Set Your Terms (Response Time)
I wasn’t sure how to explain this, so here it goes:
You might not see it that way, but set expectations in response time.
When you make it into a habit of constantly replying fast, it will set the bar high. Forever.
And the problem with that? It soaks up a lot of energy and causes immediate distractions to your daily goals.
It might be fine with a few people, but lines are blurred once you scale or grow a larger network.
I was one of them that wanted to reply immediately to any email or text message and it caused me more harm than good.
By delaying my responses I was able:
- To send a subtle signal to the other party that I am available but not in a hurry to deal with you as you would please
- Set boundaries and expectations
- Manage my own time better and categorize which one are a priority. (For example, LaunchPad members are currently coming first)
There was a time I was actively supporting Indie builders in public to get them out of 0MRR, and I kid you not, there were people that:
- Sent me a DM on X
- Sent me an email
- Sent me a reply in a Tweet
In the span of 30 mins.
Followed by a : Hello, are you there? 2 hours later.
That alone says so much about the individual, and if I were to respond, I am trapping myself.
Would have replied to it immediately 20 years ago. Today, I haven’t bothered to respond 7 months later either. And probably never will.
Lots of people think they are the center of your universe. The nucleus of your existence. And you fuel that idea by responding too quick, which leads to more noise, worries and distractions.
Which can turn into an acceleration of a possible burnout.
If you catch yourself replying too fast, or the urge to respond to every email or text asap then you need to cut that. You will give others the room to invade your personal time and space and any given time.
Don’t do it. Ever.
Lots of people I coached in the past (or currently) are telling me the same things.
‘Sometimes I sit at my desk staring, doing nothing for a couple hours’.
Don’t deny it. We all had those days where you pretty much do nothing in front of your screen. And before you know it, the day is gone and you just lost not only time, but likely are losing your edge against other competitors.
The combination of all items listed on the above can do this to you.
Don’t go sit behind your computer without a concrete plan. A to-do list is something I have noted down the day before so I can walk away without thinking what I really need to do the next day.
Guide yourself with that list and if you overdeliver or unexpectedly finish earlier than usual, then take the win and get the fuck out of there.
Because there will be more days in entrepreneurship that you will crave for more time than you would actually have time.
All of the above and more happened to me. That put me into more difficult decisions than I wanted to. And I spent way too much time solving them.
If anything, people that just start, need to gradually build up their limits and levels of endurance and not fly like spaceships just to crash the next quarter.
Health is part of your personal wealth and there are very few things that can replace that.
My limits are different than yours. It’s not because someone can outperform you that you have to do the same.
Entrepreneurship is marathon, filled with short sprints every single day.