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10 bulletproof ways to avoid burning out

Many business leaders and entrepreneurs would attest to burnout being a part of the job. In fact, at least 25 per cent of executives and entrepreneurs are experiencing burnout but few will ever fess up to it.

Here are my top 10 bulletproof tips for avoiding burnout without having to shorten your work day, because we know that's rarely an option.

1. Optimise your sleep

I have learned that I need nine hours of sleep to function at my peak, so I ensure my routine allows me this. I generally avoid screens after 6pm because the blue light from devices affects your circadian rhythm, which reduces your REM sleep. REM is the phase of sleep that supports learning and development and helps you process your day so you're better able to handle the next one. (If I need to look at a screen I ensure I have the f.lux app on my devices to automatically reduce blue light at night.)

2. Work in sprints

In the office I work in sprints of no more than 45 minutes. Short bursts of high productivity are better for your brain and your body than sitting at your computer for a few hours at a time. After the first hour at your desk, productivity decreases significantly. Even shorter sprints might serve some people better.

3. Invest in ergonomics

Encourage productive work by setting up your desk ergonomically, so your body is primed for optimum capacity. I sit on a saddle seat that positions my legs and knees below my hips to encourage posture.

4. Invest in exercise

I break up my day by going to the gym in the middle of the day. When you're working 12-15 hour days, it's good to shake your body up from the sedentary. Exercise boosts the oxygen flowing around your body, which in turn clarifies your thinking.

5. Stay hydrated

Drink lots of water, like three litres — a lot, which also boosts available oxygen in your body.

6. Get cut throat about conferring

I open my schedule (using the Calendly app) twice a day for team members to book in and meet with me. This prevents disruption to my workflow from 'got a minute?' type pop-ins, but still gives everyone an opportunity to check in daily. I keep these meetings to five minutes so we can keep communication concise and effective.

7. Maximise your commute

Transform your commuting time from dead time to an opportunity. For example, I love reading but just do not have time for it, so I listen to audio books on my commutes. I read once that listening to audio books in the car for a year is the equivalent content of a bachelor's degree (an far less expensive).

8. Automate where possible

If you have 'read' but unactionable emails in your inbox, it takes up huge amounts of mental RAM. To get to inbox zero every day I use a Gmail app that automatically archives an email if it doesn't need any further action. Boomerang, a Gmail plugin, is helpful for setting reminders instead of having the email in my headspace. If I don't receive a response by a certain time, the email comes back to my inbox so I remember to follow up.

9. Employ robot assistance

I use the Alfred app to search, index folders and retrieve files quickly. It works on web searches as well as on my computer's local drive. I use Siri to set reminders and take notes so I don't waste my typing on low-value tasks.

10. Holiday often

I prefer working in intense short stints and I try to plan breaks at the end of every quarter so that if I'm working 16-hour days, it's towards a goal like going away with my family where I will switch off as much as possible. 

A focus on your health and wellness does not need to compromise your work output. In fact, if you follow this guide I guarantee your output will be of higher quality than the churn which is often the by-product of 'busy' people.

And remember, the true secret to productivity for good rather than burnout is to have ambitions that will set your soul on fire when you wake up. 

Sabri Suby is the founder and head of growth at King Kong, recent recipient of the Best IT Agency gong at the Small Business Champions Awards, and Australia's fastest growing full-service digital marketing agency that uses true ROI and only charges for success. Based in Melbourne, King Kong has clients across Australia and overseas. Its services include SEO, CRO, PPC, Facebook Advertising, web design and landing pages.

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