This post was originally seen on Forbes.com.
The feeling of starting an entrepreneurial endeavor or beginning a freelance career is exhilarating. You’ve become the master of your own destiny, and all the anxieties and limitations of a traditional office job fade away into a sea of opportunity. When you start making money, that feeling only grows.
But eventually, things start to lose their shine. The freedom you once loved starts to seem terrifying, and the sea of opportunity turns into a sea of missed opportunities. You’ve started burning out.
So how do you prevent that burn out? How do you keep your once-loved freelance career from turning into a slog?
Something will always come up – maybe your kid gets sick, there’s an epic snowstorm or you have to fly home for a funeral. If you’re always running behind or barely keeping up, one small bug could ruin your day and set you back even further.
Blogger Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents says you should try to work ahead. Take advantage of down time to get things squared away, so there’s always a cushion.
“Working ahead isn’t always easy, but it can help you to better manage your schedule so that you have more time later.” she said.
If you don’t feel you have time to get major projects done, try doing a little bit ahead of schedule. Email contacts about future work, look at your calendar to see what’s on the horizon and plan ahead for any days you won’t be able to work. Simply keeping abreast of your schedule will make sure you’re not surprised by anything that comes up.
Plus, if you wake up one morning and simply don’t feel like working, being ahead can make it possible for you to enjoy a hike, pick up your kids from school or take in an afternoon movie – without feeling guilty.
Self-Care Is Not Optional
Online retail expert Steve Chou said even though he and his wife were fanatic about building their first online business, they also realized they still had to make time for exercise, eating well and getting a good night’s rest.
These three are major components to any successful life, but it can be easy for starting entrepreneurs to forget about going to bed at a reasonable hour. A Harvard article stated that sleep deprivation actually makes you less efficient, less focused and more prone to mistakes.
Another study from The Brookings Institution found that exercise stimulates your brain cells and increases productivity. That means an hour on the jogging trail could be more effective than an hour spent answering emails.
Taking time away from work, even if it’s in small bursts, also makes you more able to focus on your business for the long haul.
“Burning out is less likely to happen if you pay close attention to your personal hygiene and health – no matter how hard you work,” he said.
Delegate And Outsource Your Tasks
There’s always a point in starting a business where you have to do everything, from ordering toner for your printer to answering every email from a client. But later, there comes a point where you can delegate.
Outsourcing tasks that you don’t have to do can free up your time so you can work on the items that really matter, such as business development, marketing and learning new skills.
“This will not only relieve stress, but the income in most cases can more than compensate for paying someone to take those tasks off your hands,” said Eric J. Nisall, accountant and voice behind Entrepretunity.
For example, if it will take you a few hours to tweak your website, aren’t you better off hiring a WordPress expert who can do the same thing in 30 minutes? As an entrepreneur, your time is money.
Take Time Off
When you worked a regular job, you likely didn’t have to check email on the weekends or deal with clients until you came in on Monday morning. There was a strict divide between work and home. But it can be easy to burn the candle at both ends when you’re the only one running the show.
That’s why CFP, author and blogger Jeff Rose said he schedules “free days” where he doesn’t do anything work-related.
“Having a 24 hour period of time where you allow your mind to not focus on the business and focus on other things – family, hobbies, Netflix – allows your mind to take a much-needed break and come back with a vengeance,” he sad.
This can be especially helpful if you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed. Even doing mindless tasks, like mowing the lawn or cleaning the attic, can boost productivity. You might find yourself having an epiphany while you’re loading the dishwasher. Next time you feel the need to pull an all-nighter or reach for your phone during family game night, let go and focus on enjoying yourself.
Give Yourself A Buffer
One of the biggest hurdles to a new business is a lack of cash. If you find yourself struggling early on, you might be inclined to take on clients who don’t fit your business model or who will drain you of all your energy.
Set up an emergency fund of at least six month’s worth of expenses so you can remain careful and diligent about the work you take on. Make sure that your business always has enough to keep going, even when work dries up temporarily.
“I’ve learned the hard way, the importance of having increased financial flexibility when you transition into full-time entrepreneurship,” said author and writer Stefanie O’Connell. “While I can personally live on next to nothing, my business can’t run on nothing, so the buffer needed in my business bank account needs to be significant and separate from whatever I have set aside for personal needs.”