How I came close to a burnout and eventually made it out
Being a solopreneur felt like the perfect thing for me.
I could be my own boss, work on my schedule, and not worry about meetings getting in my way which would exhaust my energy
But after quitting my job and going all in on my SaaS business Famewall as a solo founder, I slowly started to realize that I was pretty bad at managing my time
I would open my laptop in the morning and then work on things as I saw fit for the day.
Each day I presumed that I could take more workload and dismissed not having any free time as I'm "enjoying work"
I kept working on Famewall during that time and my work was all about talking to customers, shipping features, solving support requests & doing marketing
Each day I wore multiple hats as a developer, marketer, social media manager, and customer support representative. It felt like a wild rollercoaster for the first few months
I used to sleep late at night thinking I'd sort stuff the next day by planning everything in the morning, only to open up the emails and get sucked into work
I felt 24 hours weren't enough
My work slowly started to creep in during weekends. It felt great to publish a blog post and fix a bug during the weekend when most others were spending time with family
It gave a boost to my ego that I was getting work done and patted myself on the back for saving time
It all came crashing down a month ago when I couldn't bring myself to work.
My productivity took a hit. I couldn't get much done in a day
You might be curious. What were the signs?
I felt fatigued and didn't feel like working. It was hard for me to open up my laptop and even look at the analytics dashboard. I kept looking for momentary diversions
I began watching movies, eating excessively, and was too stressed whenever I opened social media. Developed a short temper & binge-watched YouTube videos about random philosophies as a temporary distraction
Those gave temporary relief but the feeling returned the next day in full swing
The funny part was that I knew something was wrong but I didn't want to reason out with my mind for some strange reason.
It was the most terrible stage in my entire year of having been a solopreneur as it felt lonely & sad during that time
Luckily I had amazing customers and entrepreneurs as friends who were quite supportive and imbued positive thoughts in my mind
I finally wanted to put an end to all the negative thoughts once and for all
I made it a point to take a weekend off, switch off my phone to prevent myself from being distracted, and think about a potential solution
The most uncomfortable conversations surfaced. I had to deal with my imposter syndrome & reason why I started in the first place.
I've wanted to work for myself happily without having to worry about money or mismanaging my time.
Money was no longer a problem as I reached profitability with Famewall but the issue with time was glaring right at my face
The biggest reason for the burnout was that I always dismissed taking breaks after a long day at work. In fact, I used to feel guilty whenever I took breaks as I used to think about how I could have spent it better
I also came to realize that I was doing a disservice to my customers by not taking care of myself to even serve them in the first place. And so mental & physical health became a priority
So after that incident, I made it mandatory to take a break after work and restrict myself to working only for 8 hours a day at the maximum.
I take the weekend off to connect with friends & family. In fact, I didn't even open up social media like Twitter & Linkedin during those 2 days
So weekends are strictly reserved for quality time with family but I keep the customer support app open on my mobile just to ensure that small issues get sorted out. But other than that I only work during the weekdays and sometimes at the end of Sundays
After these changes, I found that my enthusiasm returning back. I was once again excited and looking forward to Mondays.
But every day I started by reading a book for an hour or so instead of diving straight into work. Sometimes it instigated my curiosity and made me more productive for the day
I made sure that I had a life outside of work. Instead of building my life around my business, I wanted to do it the other way round
Had a mandatory 2-hour schedule every day where I hit the gym & took 1 hour of the day to pursue my own hobbies
This has worked out pretty well
I have a very short attention span so I couldn't focus on specific tasks for long. I structured my schedule in such a way that I did the small tasks first thing in the morning - which could be building a new feature or doing a bug fix that motivates me to proceed to the next task
Sometimes you need to make sure that you celebrate all the small wins.
The journey of being a solopreneur can be quite long & lonely. So it's in our hands to take measures and keep ourselves motivated & be prepared to play this game for the long haul
Why did I write this?
Most entrepreneurs wouldn't prefer to share their downtimes as it's not easy. During the short episode last month, I personally tried finding articles about entrepreneur burnout and how they managed to overcome it
But only found a select few while most were just generic advice.
I wanted to share my personal experience on this anyway as it might prove helpful to someone out there who's in a similar situation
Luckily I managed to come out of it. Now I'm continuing my work on Famewall with full vigor by shipping new features and trying out new experiments.
But all the uncertainty has increased the fun of being independent and working for myself :)