4 Ways to Prevent Burnout in a Startup

Could you work 130 hours a week and not get burnt out? Some believe that’s what it takes to be successful, particularly in a startup environment. Could you do that and still perform at 100 percent?

Though working all the time may not the most healthy thing, the fact is many people do so…whether it’s because they are dedicated to the job or because it’s necessary. When it comes to working at the roller coaster lifestyle known as a startup, the amount of time professionals put in could lead to dreaded “B” word: burnout. When burnout ensues, workers typically lack the proper engagement needed to work at a level that produces acceptable results. And, as we all know, without results you don’t have much else to base your claims on.

How to Avoid Employee Burnout

So, when an  employee or a startup professional are feeling the burn, here are four things they can do to avoid and prevent it:

Only take on what you can handle

We’re all guilty of taking on too much at times, particularly when you work at a startup and there are limited resources. However, if you take on too much, your performance will probably falter since you can’t dedicate yourself fully to each goal. Instead, tell your superior your limit so they can give you objectives accordingly. When your startup team is aware of what you can handle, you’ll likely find that objectives are divvied out in a more accommodating fashion.

Use social performance

Social performance essentially means working together with your team in order to gain real-time feedback, streamline communication, and align everyone’s goals to the main mission of the organization. When startups use social performance tools, they simultaneously reduce burnout because there’s that foundation of teamwork, which allows all employees to collaborate, be informed of progress, and work together so that a goal is met.

Switch off

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of technology overload!

When you’re working in a startup, it’s easy to get sucked into smartphones, tablets, and social networking sites 24/7. Remember the importance of taking a breather: switch off those devices, especially when you’re done for the week. Of course, if there’s an emergency, you should take action — but switching off the technology gives you the opportunity to clear your mind and prevent mental overload. So do it!

Take a break

About 57% of working Americans had unused vacation time at the end of 2011. That means more than half of professionals aren’t taking time off, or not taking as much as they could. This can cause a mental strain on workers, leaving little time for them to recharge and refresh. So, for the sake of your performance, take a break! Your organization will thank you in the long run.

What do you think? What are some other ways to prevent burnout in a startup or just in the workplace in general?

Morgan Norman is the Founder and CEO of WorkSimple, the social performance application that works the way you do — focused on Social Goals, feedback and recognition for you, your team, and company. Connect with him and WorkSimple on Facebook and @worksimple on Twitter.

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Morgan Norman is the co-founder and CEO of WorkSimple, the social performance application that works the way you do — focused on Social Goals, feedback and recognition for you, your team, and company. Connect with him and WorkSimple on Facebook and @WorkSimple on Twitter.

Reader Interactions


  1. Omar Halabieh says

    Hi Morgan,

    Thanks for sharing the above practical tips to prevent burnout. I would add one more, which is around prioritization. In that respect I am a big fan of the late Stephen Covey – namely always categorizing work into the 2×2 matrix (important, not important) and (urgent, non urgent). The goal is to over time reduce the amount of work in the urgent, not important category. It is rather easy for us to fall back to this ‘fire-fighting’ mode. While it does bring a short term adrenaline rush. It will on the long term lead to burn out.

    In short, always know your priorities and actively manage them. Not everything needs to be done yesterday!



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