Burnout: why it’s affecting tradies in business

The World Health Organization officially acknowledged burnout as a condition last year, defining it as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress — can you relate to this as a trade business owner?

You’re probably familiar with feelings of cynicism, anger and irritability, which are all signs of burnout. The question is: how do you move through burnout?

In this article, you’ll better understand what burnout is and what you can do about it. As a trade business owner, whose livelihood depends on your ability to switch on, work hard at any time, and carry the weight of responsibility in managing your team, feelings of burnout can be terrifying. Sometimes, you’ve got to take stock. Like now.

Burnout: why it’s affecting you 

If burnout is the loss of meaning in your work, coupled with mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion as the result of long-term, unresolved stress, you’ll recognise the following reasons why you’re likely to be suffering right now.

  • You’re working long hours, regularly.
  • You feel like you need to be always available – emails, social media, telephone.
  • You’re not talking about your business worries with someone who understands.
  • You’re wearing all the business hats – and it involves constant juggling!
  • You’re carrying the responsibility of cashflow to support others.

With this in mind, what can you do about countering burnout?

Burnout: here’s five questions to ask yourself 

1. Am I focusing on profit-making activities?

When you’re wearing all the hats, you’re actually creating more work by using inefficient processes or systems. As the trade business owner, your time is your most valuable asset. The thing is: are you spending your time on activities that are making you money, or are you spending your time running around like a headlines chook?

At Lifestyle Tradie, we use a method called Stop. Keep. and Start. to help business owners gain back precious time, and in turn, focus on profit-making activities, rather than spreading yourself too thin — that will ultimately, lead to burnout. If this process works for your business, why not look at how you can free up some personal time?

2. Have I moved my body today?

Eventually, too much stress on your body over a long period of time can cause you to burn out. One of the simple ways you can complete the biological stress cycle and return your body to a state of relaxation is to move your body. If you’re feeling stuck, exercise has been proven to help create positive change.

Exercise can take many forms, so find the one for you – whether it’s the gym, running, playing a team sport, yoga or simply putting on some music and dancing in your living room! Your physical and mental health depends on you moving. When’s the last time you exercised? Come on, are you being honest with yourself?

3. Do I love my trade business?

When you’re the business owner, it’s hard to acknowledge you’re struggling to love it. It’s easy to understand why. You’ve got too many conflicting responsibilities and the boundaries in your life are blurred. If you’ve fallen out of love with your business, what can you do to feel motivated and re-energised about it again?

Having a like-minded community around you is one way you can fill your cup to help replenish those stores of mental, emotional, and physical energy. That’s exactly why our Lifestyle Tradie community does — and why our members tell us they find it so valuable. (Learn more about what we do at our FIRST virtual event — it’s free!)

4. When was the last time I switched off?

The phone never stops, does it?

Even on holidays, you can’t resist checking your emails by poolside. For most trade business owners, switching off is a big challenge. But your body and your mind both need rest, so get comfortable with doing nothing, even just for short periods at a time.

Scheduling free time as a part of your calendar is one way to do this, especially if you’re uncomfortable switching off. By putting it in your diary, it tells you it’s as important as the other tasks you need to achieve today – and you can time it and keep it under control.

5. Is there someone I can ask for help?

Being a trade business owner is probably more lonely than you ever imagined. Who can you lean on for support? It is important to know when you need help. Burnout can creep up on you, because you’ve said ‘yes’ too often. Yes to more work. Yes to clients. Yes to the out-of-hour phone calls. Yes to picking up your team’s slack. You can’t do it alone.

So, what will you be changing to make your life and business more sustainable?