How Do You Keep from Burning Out- Start-up advice

NOTE: If you are looking for the rest of the long division program, the CSS and HTML, I will have that next week. I usually blog on technical stuff during the week and random rambling on the weekends.

Someone sent me a message recently,

“Hey annmaria I just went into business for myself about a month ago and was wondering how you avoid the burnout when everything depends on you”

This was a really good question and beyond a text message.  Everyone running a company feels like it is a 24-7 job. Here are a few pieces of advice I have found useful for reducing the stress.


1. Make lists. I use a spreadsheet, either in Excel or Google docs, that I create or update every 2 or 3 months. This has EVERYTHING I can think of that needs to be done, with a priority assigned and a person to do it. If you’re a sole proprietor the person is probably you.  Every day, I check those lists and update as necessary. I also create daily and weekly to do list, with priorities. The priority part is really important. If you only finished 2 things today but you know they were the 2 most important, you’ll be less stressed.

2. Delegate. Is there anything on that list that could be done by your accountant, lawyer, assistant, cleaning lady? Not only will this reduce your stress it will upgrade their skills.

3. Bring in a co-founder. I work best with partners. I co-authored a book and many articles. The longest-running company I began, Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. was begun with two  co-founders, as was my newest company, 7 Generation Games. Partners both help in quantity – two people can do twice as much work – and quality as they probably will have skills you don’t have.

4. Realize that at the end of the day, there is another day. That’s how time works. So, once you have accomplished what really HAD to get done today, anything else you do is gravy.

5. Be honest about your priorities and what HAD to get done today. For example, if I am submitting a grant that is due on May 11th, it HAS to be done by May 11th. However, for most things, if I’ve put in a productive 8, 10 or 12 hours, it is perfectly fine to knock off and try again tomorrow.

I am pretty convinced that if I keep making progress every day, eventually our games will be so amazing everyone will want them and everyone in the world will know about them. There is also the issue of having the cash flow to keep going until that time, but since his question was more on  a personal than financial level, I’ll talk about money another day.

Now… back to work right after I change the guinea pigs’ cage. (Also on my to-do list.)

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