From the moment I decided to build my own creative coaching business, I knew I didn’t want to burn myself out in the process. I had already been blogging, growing an Instagram account, and working on a novel alongside a 9-to-5 job for a couple of years. I had learned the importance of balance and rest while pursuing many things at once.
So I went into business with the mindset to keep stress out. But, at the same time, I’m a creative human with many different passions and interests while also running my own business. This means I’m blogging, sending newsletters, running a Youtube channel, posting on Instagram, working with clients, creating products and new offerings…
Obviously this could be very overwhelming. But it’s not! I’m going to show you how to keep showing up consistently in your business without burnout, too.
Signs that it’s too much
Let’s first get clear on one thing: “too much” exists. As business owners, it’s easy to take on an approach that more is better. We feel we need to do all the things, all the time. Especially when trying to grow your business and you feel like you’re never doing enough.
So what does “too much” look like? Well, we feel stretched thin. Our plans stress us out. We keep moving things from one to-do list to the next and rush through tasks that we otherwise would enjoy but now just want to get done. We can’t stop thinking about our work when we’re not working and plan and replan, trying to squeeze everything in. Work starts feeling heavy and like a constant struggle.
I’ve been there. In the early years of blogging, I was so thrilled to be creating that I continuously pushed myself too hard. I was attempting to do so much alongside a full-time job, and I kept getting stressed out and having to take longer breaks to recover. It’s not a fun place to be in. But the good thing is that you can change it.
Find your joy and pace
There are two things I believe in strongly, and they are joy and pace. First of all, everything will be easier if you do things in your business that you actually enjoy. Secondly, you can do a lot of things in your business. But you can’t do a lot of things at once.
Let’s say you’re contemplating which content mediums you want to use in your content marketing. Maybe the options are articles, videos, and a podcast. The first question you should ask yourself is: which would I enjoy the most? If you find writing difficult and tedious, don’t make articles a core part of your content marketing just because that’s how others do it. If you hate the process of filming a video and feel super awkward talking to cameras, choose a podcast instead. When you enjoy the work, everything becomes easier and less stressful.
But we can still get burned out doing things we enjoy, of course. So the second part to this puzzle is choosing the right pace. Maybe you’ve decided to go with a podcast and articles. It might not sound particularly overwhelming to write one article per week and record one podcast episode. But you might also be keeping up with social media accounts, working with clients, developing new offerings, and a whole slew of other things, too. So a weekly pace might not be the right one for you.
You want to find a pace that doesn’t feel stressful and allows you to enjoy the work. Maybe you do the podcast weekly but in seasons, so you do ten episodes and then take a break for a couple of months. Alongside, maybe you decide to write just one to two articles per month. If you’re stressed out by taking on too many clients, it might be time to raise your prices so you can find a better pace in your client work.
In my business, my Youtube channel and my newsletters both run on a fortnightly cycle. My blog output varies, but my average is probably two posts per month. I’ve made a conscious decision not to take on more clients than I can handle. And everything that needs developing, like a new offering or a redesign of my website, I do in projects that I spread out over time.
There will always be advice out there that says you should post on Instagram daily or send out more emails. But you have to pair this advice with your own situation. What would be the downside to keeping up very intense content output? Would it make you scramble to finish, not enjoy it, get stressed out, and not have the space to come up with any good ideas? Then you’re probably not going to see the good effects of high output anyway.
Don’t start everything at the same time
One thing I often see when I work with my creative coaching clients is that they overwhelm themselves by trying to start everything at once. You might already know that you want to have a range of products and services, do Instagram Lives regularly, have a podcast, and write articles. That doesn’t mean you should start doing them all at the same time.
Whenever we start doing something new, be it starting a podcast or developing a product, it takes a lot of effort. There are things we have to learn, we have to find our styles and voices within a new medium, form our thoughts, and find our rhythm within it. Because of this, I always recommend having only one new thing going at any given time. If you start by writing articles, wait at least a couple of months before you start the podcast. If you’re just starting to work with clients, hold off on developing new things until you’ve found your groove.
This will make everything feel much calmer. I’ve been blogging since 2016, but I started my Youtube channel in 2020. Writing is now second nature to me, while filming has involved a steep learning curve and lots of experimenting. This makes it much less stressful than if I had tried to start them both at the same time.
Seasons in your business
Your business will go through many different seasons. In the beginning, you might not have many clients or customers, and you can focus more on marketing and developing products and offerings. At later stages, you might be booked out with clients and not have much time to spare for creating content.
Embrace this. Embrace your seasons, and allow your output to change with them. When I started my business, I ran it alongside a day job. It wasn’t possible for me to create as much content as I do now that I run it full time. When I started my Youtube channel, I made videos my core focus, building my channel and getting into a good habit with it. This meant I wrote fewer blog posts for a while. It’s okay for your output to fluctuate with the seasons of your business.
Your gentle habits
The habits you have in your business will play a big role in how calm you feel day to day. If you pack your days full without a break, chances are you’re going to feel quite frazzled at the end of the day.
One of the benefits of being a business owner is that you’re in charge. You get to decide what your habits look like, so take the time to design ones that actually support you. Shift your focus from getting as much done as possible, to enjoying the process of getting them done. Maybe you would love to go to a café to sit and ponder ideas for new content and write down notes. Perhaps you work better in the afternoon if you take a walk after lunch. Or you might get into a good writing mood if you put on some good music and light a candle on your desk.
It’s so easy to approach business from a mindset of hustle. Our society definitely glamorizes that kind of work culture. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Business can feel calm and joyful, even when we’re showing up consistently and putting out a range of insightful, impactful content.