So you think you can go pro ? :) #4: Burnout

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by sawblade1 posted 12-13-2010 04:11 AM 1346 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: TIME !!!!! Part 4 of So you think you can go pro ? :) series Part 5: MVP'S, VIP'S, And Logo's »

Good evening LJ’s

This weeks post focuses on something that unless controlled can sneak up on you in a hurry and cause serious injury to you, your family, your business and potential customers!! What Is this threat? How can I prevent it?
Well I’m glad you asked :) It is called burnout a(n) epidemic that plagues small business owners, it is a level of fatigue and frustration that no man can describe. It isn’t a fast all of a sudden type of attack it creeps up over time, slowly
easing it’s ugly self right in under your watchful eye!! It starts off with you making mistakes small ones and you letting them getting to you or more pronounced with you trying to get things going without being properly set up or running as smooth as you want to :) Sometimes it comes from trying to do too much at one time or too much work load or improperly balancing family/ business life. How do I know this well from personal experience :( Last week I was standing out in my shop waiting for my propane heater to warm the shop up and I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything (kinda depressed anyway) Frustrated with not making anything this year and getting my lumber to late for my chairs, pushing to get my templates finished, tested, and trying to rearrange my shop, coupled with my job giving me problems, fatigue from the hours I work and finally not feeling the greatest. I said to myself why am I doing this? I literally wanted to quit woodworking all together and say forget it. Thank God for rational friends who told me to take a break that what I was feeling was burnout normal for most entrepreneurs but not the end as I thought, So I took my vacation pay and spent it on my other hobby I totally ignored (my trains) taking a week off did me wonders limiting my shop time to 1 hr per day even slowing down on LJ’s and working on my trains I seemed to have bounced back a little and plan on taking the rest of this year to reflect and plan (in my own time) for next year. I think this was a close call, Too close !!!
So how Do you prevent yourself from getting this way?
Here are my solutions below :)

1. Do not focus on one thing (projects, finances, or goals) to the point you lose focus, if you lose focus you lose the true purpose of your intent.

2. Take breaks, Play a little a managed disruption (as long as you have the time, in which you should) will allow you to achieve the A-HA to the problems you need or to plan without haste.

3. Learn to say NO NO AND I REPEAT NO saying yes all the time only leads up to this, and customers, family members, and associates may not like this initially but will thank you in the end (just explain why) a.k.a I have to much on my plate right now.

4. Set your goals realistically, Break up larger goals into manageable tasks

5. Realize you are only one person and know your potential and your limits

I hope this helps, Until next week take care :)

-- Proverbs Ch:3 vs 5,6,7 Trust in the lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding but in all your ways aknowledge him and he shall direct your path

11 comments so far

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3071 days

#1 posted 12-13-2010 04:26 AM

Been there Done that! I know exactly what you are saying and it is very true.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18311 posts in 3729 days

#2 posted 12-13-2010 04:43 AM

Good advice! I have never been there to the point of depression, but I realized it was pointless to continue working 12-14 hour days 6 days a week and 8 on Sunday to support employees. The turning point as taking my daughter to an after school activity one evening. It was one of the first really nice warm evenings in spring. There was a couple about my age playing on a tennis court. I was a bit upset that they would be wasting their time playing when they could be getting something productive done.

Part of this problem probably came from being raised on a dairy farm and not knowing any better. But I had been way long enough to know better; more to life than making money or just surviving. I thought about feeling that way for a few days. I realized there was something going wrong with my brain! By the end of summer, I was bidding jobs high enough to not have to support the employees. In that niche in the market at that time, work started to dry up. By fall, my contracts were completed. I laid off 2 full timers and sold a truck. Lived happily ever after, I must say ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 2889 days

#3 posted 12-13-2010 04:50 AM

Thanks for the encouragement! I am rushing to finish these doll beds so that I can enjoy the holiday season as much as possible. I am going to start charging more too…make it worth my while and slow things down.


-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View Chrmakr's profile


20 posts in 3081 days

#4 posted 12-13-2010 06:18 AM

Most people think how great it would be to have their own business. Of course there are many upsides, but there are many downsides, one of which you experienced. All of your suggestions are worthy and anyone thinking about opening shop should be aware of the problem and some of the solutions. One thing that helps me keep my work in perspective is to treat it like a regular job. Set work hours, break and lunch times, and days to be in the shop. Of course the advantage you have is being able to adjust your days and hours when setting up your schedule to what works best for you and your family. Being dedicated to the schedule you set will help you avoid the overworked syndrome.

-- Doug Roper Chairmaker and Instructor,

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18311 posts in 3729 days

#5 posted 12-13-2010 06:57 AM

Chrmakr If that works for you that is great. The thing I love about being self employed is freedom from a schedule ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2941 days

#6 posted 12-13-2010 11:01 AM

While I too love the freedom being self employed gave me in managing my time, all too many of us forget to manage it.

While you may not want to work to a schedule, try to set a number of hours you’ll work each day/week/month and stick to it. Giving in to the temptation to take too much time off is easy to see resulting in lack of productivity and income, but the other extreme is just as bad, leading to burn out surely as day follows night.

My own solution was to set a number of hours in the afternoon to work, then a break until after supper, then another set number of hours before quitting for the day. (I hate mornings with a passion and would only work them in the case of an important appointment that I couldn’t schedule at a more “human” hour) Afternoons were usually meetings with business clients and evenings for personal clients. Sometimes these were the same people, as many business people don’t want to discuss their personal finances in the workplace and others desire the input of their spouse. I’ve actually discussed a group insurance plan and executive compensation package with mr. X in the afternoon at his office, then seen him again that very evening to go over hos own estate plans.

Sure, I usually worked more hours than my 9 to 5 competition, but once I set limits and stuck to them, I found this system worked for me.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View rando1's profile


163 posts in 2977 days

#7 posted 12-13-2010 02:39 PM

My sis in law calls me the energizer worker….I never seem to quite going.
Over the years I have just kept working, one more cut, one more detail, one more this or that.
Well, I am realizing that is not worth it. Slowly, but I am learning.
Especially with a steady work load, I think that I need to keep the shop open and going before and after hours.
We ALL need that day or weekend to rest, take a break and not feel guilty about it.
Guilt can set in especially when you have projects piling up in the shop.
Our wives and families need to know they are important too:)
Keep Building UP, and out!
Merry Christmas.

-- Randon Riegsecker,

View mafe's profile


11739 posts in 3142 days

#8 posted 12-13-2010 02:58 PM

Yes, it’s just all normal, been there also, but big time where I had a brakedown and a depression after, infact I still eat antidepressive – belive it or not (I’m known for my good mood).
My only advice is to listen to your mind and your body in this situation, when we listen closely it’s amazing what it tells. It’s just that our mind are stronger for some of us, and this can lead to a brakedown if we are not careful.
So spend christmas in peace, try to stop thinking about work when you leave the workshop, tell your self it has no reason.
Try to focus on the moments, on the beauty of your family, give some extra kisses.
Do what you can in the work shop and then leave.
Move your focus to what you can do, and not what you cant.
You are welcome to write me a private mail, if you need a shoulder.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View nate22's profile


475 posts in 2928 days

#9 posted 12-13-2010 03:13 PM

Good advice sawblade1. For me I make out a schedule so I won’t get burned out. And it works for me. And I try not to work past my business hours. Like rando1 said our wives and family need to know that they are important and they need us to help them to. If you feel like your getting burned out some days just leave your shop for awhile or the rest of the day and come back the next day. And don’t try to do the things you can’t because you just get stressed out along with getting burned out. Hopefully this helps you.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

View billb's profile


113 posts in 2998 days

#10 posted 12-13-2010 04:04 PM

This is a great topic because burnout can happen to almost anyone. I believe that one of the main causes of burnout is what I call scrambling. That is what you do to get jobs finished so you can get much needed payments. Small businesses need consistent cash flow and that requires completed and delivered jobs. Getting those jobs out can lead to scambling, long hours, and burnout.

It is important to take time off to relax and spend good family time but in addition to that I learned three things that helped me avoid burnout during my years in the woodworking business.

Number one was to charge enough for every job. That means figuring every job carefully to make certain I considered all the materials, parts, etc and calculating a sufficient number of hours to do the job. Just as important I remembered the rule of supply and demand. That is, how much I charged for jobs was related directly to how much customers were willing to pay for the job. I found that as I became known in the business people were willing to pay me more than my competitors for the same work and I charged accordingly. The final price of a job is the amount agreed to between a willing seller and a willing buyer.

Number two was to make certain that I collected in full for every job. I worked with some woodworkers who lost thousands because they failed to make collection of payments just as important as doing the job. Getting a deposit and collecting the balance in full immediately after delivery or installation is critical to the success of any small business.

Number three was to accurately estimate the time a job would take, the real time. If a job would take 24 hours of my time, that didn’t necessarily mean three days. If I had several things going on it could mean a week, two weeks, even more. I always tried to make certain that my deadlines were realistic and allowed for that important free time everyone needs to avoid burnout.

Over the years I found those three things helped me increase my profits and allowed me the time I needed to relax, take vacations, and keep my woodworking enjoyable.

-- Bill, Austin, Texas,

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18311 posts in 3729 days

#11 posted 12-13-2010 11:19 PM

rando1 You hit the nail on the head about not felling guilty about taking time off. Coming off the farm, i felt guilty every day I didn’t work when I didn’t have any work to do when I was younger. This thread makes me wonder how my folks made it running a dairy farm. I was in my teens before they took a vacation.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics