One of my favorite productivity writers is Chris Bailey. In April 2023 the HBR printed an article written by Chris titled, A Two-Minute Burnout Checkup.

Here’s a summary: Burnout is the result of chronic stress and, at work, that stress tends accumulate around your experiences of workload, values, reward, control, fairness, and community. If any are lacking or out of sync, you may be headed toward exhaustion, cynicism, and the feeling of being ineffective. When taken regularly, this short assessment can help you gauge whether you’re on the path to burnout, and where you should focus your attention to make beneficial changes.

As business owners, it can be easy to feel like we “should” have full and total control over our schedules, our environments, our businesses, our lives . . . our everything. Therefore,  we “should” be able to manipulate and manage the main factors that can lead to burnout.

But the reality is, of course, very different.

We have clients with deadlines that get pushed up. And employees who unexpectedly take new positions. And tech that breaks. And days where everything just feels hard.

We can wonder just why we decided to start a business in the first place.

Of course, we also have days when everything falls perfectly into place. Everyone on your team is an A player. Processes work perfectly. Every meeting is a strategic meeting that starts and ends on time. 

And you love every minute of your business.

Probably – these scenarios are happening in the same week! 🙂

This is why having a way to continually assess your level of burnout is a really good (and I do mean REALLY GOOD) idea. 

Typically, I won’t recognize I’m headed towards burnout until I’m feeling ineffective, cynical, and exhausted – which is why I appreciate the checklist in this article. I have a trigger in Asana to take this check-up each month. (If I’m tempted to “ignore the task because I’m too busy” that in itself is a sign I need to take a pause!)

As soon as I notice my numbers creeping up, the first thing I check is how much of my current time is being spent in my Zone of Genius. Over the years, I’ve recognized that when I’m experiencing burnout it is because the level of stress I’m experiencing in WORKLOAD and VALUES and CONTROL is higher – and that is often attributed to the time I’m spending outside my Zone of Genius.

When I’m doing the work I love, that I’m uniquely good at, and that moves the business forward – working in my ZOG – those numbers stay low.

Which makes sense, I started a business to do what I love – and when I’m not doing what I love – I feel dissatisfied, then stressed, then overwhelmed, then eventually burned out.

I’ll immediately block 2 hours to bust burnout by revisiting my activity list (tasks, projects, meetings, etc.) to determine which are and are not in my ZOG. Which can I delete and delegate?  Once I start moving some off my plate, my stress level reduces.

This is exactly the work we do with clients. If you’d like to have an outside point of view on what might be causing the increase in one of your Burnout Factors, let’s chat.