Managing Burnout and the Quest for Excellence
For our third and final installment of the excellence-themed blog collaboration with Curate, Curate partners Rachel Bridgwood and Lauren Anderson of Sweet Root Village are here to talk about burnout when it comes to seeking excellence in your business. Keep reading for insight into how they manage burnout while running a successful floral business.
How can you be great at anything if you are failing at everything?
Welcome to my own personal therapy session.
What does YOUR Monday look like? Ours are “flex days”... our work-from-home-in-sweats-and-get-some-laundry-done-while-answering-emails-kind-of-day…
So amazing, right? In reality, it looks more like surviving on coffee–no shower–kids bored out of their mind crying–kids watching iPads–endless diaper changing–dishes piling up–forget to switch over the laundry–hot dogs for dinner again–all for the sake of “working at home”– kind of day.
It seems like this is the price of getting anything done these days. The drag out fight to get through the inbox, finish the proposals, revise the proposals, order the flowers, run the payroll, prepare for events, all while managing a personal life. It feels like that SO many days –
Instead of enjoying, thriving, creating, loving. When entrepreneurship should be the ultimate freedom – to work for yourself and do what you love everyday, why does it too often become the excuse for being burnt out. A walking zombie. Drained of all emotional, physical, and creative energy. Lacking in ambition, direction in life, or direction in business.
We are too often willing to go to the ends of the earth for our business at the expense of our health and the well being of those around us. Why do we do this to ourselves and those we love? Is all of the pain and neglect worth it? Is there a better way?
Rachel and I have been in business for almost ten years. We’re approaching an anniversary that is longer than either of us have been married. A business that has seen us find soul mates, grow families, carry each other through family tragedies, purchase homes, and every up and down that comes with life’s hurdles. Some days burnout feels quick on our heels and other days we are able to breathe a little more freely. In no way do we have it all figured out – as we are constantly learning, evolving, and adapting – but we are dedicated to keeping burnout at bay. It may always be looming in some form or another, but we can’t let it take over. If we are going to thrive in our business and personal lives, we cannot afford to burn out. It’s not fair to ourselves, our clients, our employees, and most of all – our families.
This may be hard to hear, but in our minds, burnout is a symptom of selfishness. It’s thinking that we can do it all and be everything to everyone, but if you live life that way – no one gets the best YOU in the end.
I think most people would say that burnout is a result of having a never ending to-do list and not enough time to get everything done. Let me tell you a secret. EVERYONE around you has a never ending to-do list. It’s all relative. Your likelihood of burnout is determined by the importance you place on your list and all the things you put on it. It’s time to delegate. What can you remove? What is actually important for you and you alone to complete? By identifying these specific tasks, you will not only be helping yourself alleviate YOUR load, but you will also be helping those around you feel like a part of your team, gaining a sense of ownership and team goodness.
There are seasons where you HAVE to hustle, but what are your long-term goals? Do you plan to hustle every day for the rest of your life? The seasons of crazy hustle are necessary, but monitoring it and knowing that you have planned for rest is equally as important.
What are some practical ways we try to kick burnout in the butt?
- Perspective and Gratefulness: Sometimes when the to-do list is causing dangerous anxiety levels – stepping back and acknowledging that “it’s just flowers” can be powerful. Consider ways to change your perspective. Gratitude, or lack thereof, is often at the root of our happiness levels, so practicing gratitude daily can automatically adjust your perspective. I know this is totally preachy, but it’s totally true.
- Efficiency and Systems: Finding new ways to stay organized, while they can take time to get in place, have dramatically affected our stress levels. These systems have allowed for more space in our brains. When our brains are more organized, we have more time and space for creativity and to focus on the big picture of our business. Some of our favorite systems are Google Drive for storage, Curate for flower processes, Streak for Gmail management, and Marco Polo for team communication.
- Late Nights: A few years ago, we hired breakdown managers to take over the late-night portion of event cleanup. This was life changing, and if we hadn’t done this, we’d be emotional and physical puddles of human beings.
- Building a Team: This costs money. It takes time to train people. It’s also scary on so many levels, but having a support structure around you everyday makes the workload lighter and more enjoyable.
- Taking Care of Your Team: It’s not enough to just hire people. You need to love them and care for them. Offering benefits (maternity, paternity, medical, dental, and vision), flexible schedules and sick days, spa day, lunch on hard days or busy weeks, and even just small bits of encouragement go a long way in keeping great team members.
- Backup Plans for Your Backup Plans: Don’t over commit yourself to too many events or put all your eggs in one basket. We are big believers in having backup plans and building cushion into everything we do. Planning well provides clarity, which avoids chaos, confusion, and burnout.
Speaking of avoiding chaos, check out our list of tools to have on hand in case of event disasters.
- Weekends: 99% of our business takes place on the weekends, and coincidentally, so does most of our family time. Huh. Interesting. Imagine that. By having a solid team of in-house, lead designers, we are able to alternate working weekends and each get at least one or more weekends off a month!
- Commute: Commuting during rush hour is no fun. Commuting in the dark is no fun. We try to adjust our studio hours based on the seasons to help alleviate those stressors, mainly working shorter days in the winter!
- Mondays: Since we work most weekends, our studio is closed on Mondays and we call it a “Flex Day.” During busy season, they are a little more on the work-heavy side of the flex because there is so much to do and stay on top of, but many times they allow for laundry, errands, or a trip to the park with the kiddos.
Finding the ever-fleeting “work/life balance” is a process. I don’t believe there is a perfect balance because that implies we are looking for perfection in both, when in reality it is a give and take. You will never be a perfect business owner, boss, spouse, or parent, so it will only create frustration trying to be perfect at any of them. This is not an argument for mediocrity, but for balance, intentionality, gratefulness, and grace. Know your limits and find the beauty in them, because those limits are where you can make the choice to allow others to step in and grow alongside you.