Episode 278 - Featuring Lee Matthew Jackson
August 5, 2020
I have burned out multiple times running my agencies. Why? Because I ignored the signs and kept pushing forward. I put deadlines, clients and my own pride before my health and mental well-being.
Over the years I’ve noticed the following signs:
Whenever I see these patterns I engage in some of all of the following to help me slow down:
If you are struggling with your mental health, be sure to check out Big Orange Heart.
Welcome to the Agency Trailblazer Podcast, this is your host Lee, and on today’s show, I’m sharing with you a live stream I did last week. I unpacked the signs that you should slow down and how you should do it. The reason I’m sharing this is twofold. Number one, I am too taking a break so it makes sense to repurpose content that you may not have heard. Secondly, this information is super, super important. So if you feel overworked, stressed out and tired, then there is content in here that speaks to you.
If you weren’t aware that I go live, I do five days a week over on leematthewjackson.com/live where I share a message of about eight to ten minutes long. So I would appreciate it if you get value from this episode, if you hop over and subscribe without further ado. Enjoy the audio version of last week’s Live Stream.
We are live. How are you doing, everybody? My name is Lee Matthew Jackson and I want to say stop, please, for the love of everything. Stop, just stop for a moment and spend eight to 10 minutes with me, because I think it’s really important. I think you probably right now need to slow down. Today, I want to share with you some of the signs that you, as a business owner, as an agency owner, need to slow the heck down. I also want to give you some tips on how you might do that.
First, let’s do what I always do, which is set the scene. Busy agency owners. This is where I’ve been multiple times. I have been a busy agency owner. I’ve worked 18 hour days. I’ve worked at weekends, I’ve been stressed out. Things have just become overwhelming. I lose motivation. I lose traction. I feel trapped because I feel like I have to keep doing stuff and I can’t stop and chill out and what happens there is burnout. I hit burnout every single time. I want to encourage you to just take a moment with me as we look at some of the signs that we need to slow down to allow us to avoid that burnout. Before we do, here’s why it’s important, if you don’t slow down and if you burn out, that will have a much bigger negative impact on your business than anything else. If you slow down, you can stop, you can reset, you can recharge, you can realign your thinking. You can put in new strategies, procedures, etc. If you don’t slow down, you will just push yourself to the point where you can no longer do any more.
Let’s have a look at some of the signs. The first thing might be that you might find yourself starting to extend your work hours a little bit more. So you’re working maybe an extra hour or two beyond your normal working time. That’s a sure fire sign that you probably need to slow down because you’re probably taking on too much. Another might be poor sleep. I know for me when I’ve been super, super busy and each and every day is either meetings or development and stress, I then struggle to sleep because I’m already thinking about tomorrow.
Another might be and this is a weird one, this is personal, involuntary twitching. Like I can’t do it now, but I used to do this a lot randomly and I wasn’t sure why I was doing it, but it was the stress it was the overwhelm. It was the drain. All of this sort of stuff was making me twitch and I actually still do it. If you stress me out, you’ll see me twitch. It’s a sure fire way of knowing that I’m really annoyed with you. So if I twitch when you’re talking to me, probably be worried.
Poor mental health is another sign. So, you know, are you feeling down, depressed, stressed, anxious, all of those things, they’re a sure fire sign that you need to slow the heck down, both in business and in your own life. Are you finding yourself being demotivated? I will often be more demotivated the more stuff I feel like I have to do, the more demanding that my agency is becoming, the more demanding my clients are, the less motivated I feel.It becomes overwhelming.
And finally, and this is the worst feeling ever. Is that feeling of being trapped. I have to do all of this work because I have no choice. I have to do this work because my clients expect it of me. I have to do this work because my team expect it of me. I have to do this work because we won’t get paid and then the business will suffer. It’s all on me. I am trapped. I own my own job. I am stuck and I have got to work 18 hour days. I’ve got to work this weekend. You might say this to your partner. I’m really sorry, love. I’ve got to work this weekend. But don’t worry. You know, after a few months of this we’ll be through this, we’ll be through this. Those are the sorts of things that I’ve said to my wife on multiple occasions, not long before I hit the all dreaded burnout. Burnout is way worse, I tell you that, than actually just slowing down.
Now, if you wait till burnout, you’re going to have to take a massive chunk of time out. And that’s a huge disruption to your business and to your life and it sucks. Whereas if you can start to just slow down right now, you can avoid that burnout altogether and you can actually start to develop a business that you love because you can put the systems and processes and all of that in place that will allow you to have a work life balance that facilitates your life and facilitates the enjoyment in your business. This is about building a business that you love. This is about building an agency that you love that serves a particular mission, that helps particular people and you will not be able to do that if you keep going. Keep going, keep pushing, keep pushing and ignoring the signs that you probably need to slow down, that you need to take care of your physical and mental well-being.
Here’s some of the things that I will do. Number one is, I will admit both to myself, to my partners, that’s business partners and also to my family, that I’m probably overdoing it and I need to slow down. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to being able to deal with that. It also means that you’ve been accountable to other people and you’ve said, hey, I can see the signs and I think I need to slow down. This is you being accountable. This is you being honest, and this is you laying it out there because you’re going to do something about it and equally, the people you have shared this with can help you do something to. Perhaps my wife can hold me accountable for not working past 4:00 PM etc. There are things that you can do. So first, number one that I will do, is my effort to slow down is to go ahead and admit it to myself, to my partners. That’s in the business and also to my family.
Next thing I’m going to do is review my task list and just be completely brutal. There are things on my task list that are either so unimportant that they just don’t even need to be there and they can just get dumped. Ideas that I’ve had that I’m overloading myself with because of the what ifs of the future. And there are also things on that task list that I can then give to other people or to outsource. I do this with my calendar as well. So, maybe in a week’s time I can see my calendar is full of meetings and I’m trying to work out why. Then I recognize that people like external companies have used my booking link to book in little chats with me and they’re not really aligning with what I want to do. So I’ll I’ll cover all of those out.
Another thing I’ve said is offload any work that you can to other people. So if there are stuff that is taking you time and being a drain, is that something that is easily documented? I don’t know. Maybe it’s website updates or whatever it is something that you can simply document. You can document how to update the site. You can document how to test the site afterwards and then give that to somebody who doesn’t even need to be a Web expert. If you’re a small business, you could pay a freelancer to do that for you. So just start to offload those tasks to enable you to slow down.
Another thing I’ll do is fire problem clients. So a lot of the overwhelming stress and the causes of my burnout tends to be those drainer clients. People who I have on-boarded in error and they’ve turned out to be a complete nightmare. And I just have to cut that cord and say, I’m really sorry. You know, we do not align. I cannot serve you any more.
Another recommendation would be to take a long weekend or even a holiday. If the signs are there that you need to slow down, then you might need to go drastic and take on a full holiday. Very often we will arrange a random holiday, very impromptu, just to get away and to force me to stop. Which leads to the last thing. If things are really, really bad or getting really, really bad, you might need to engage the hard stop. This is something that I will do when I really need to. If I see the signs early enough, I’ll do everything else and slowly reduce my workload and take time to relax and take time to rest and slow down. But if things have gotten too far, I might sometimes have to engage the hard stop, which might be just a few days of doing absolutely nothing, stripping my entire calendar, cancelling everything, telling all clients that all deadlines are moving. You can moan if you want to, all deadlines are moving. I am taking some time out. Again, not the best idea necessarily, because you’ve probably shouldn’t have got that far, but if you’re near the burnout stage and you want to avoid a complete burnout that could disable you for weeks, then engage with that hard stop.
These are all just things that I have done over the last few years because I have hit burnout. I don’t learn my lessons, guys. I’ve hit burnout as an agency owner multiple times, including the last few weeks where I realized I was I doing too much in Angled Crown and in Event Engine, I’ve got two agencies. And with Àngled Crown, we were continuously on boarding new clients and going through all of that process and I looked and recognized that Agency Trailblazer is growing at something that I love and it’s something that I can build. And if I actually stop taking on new clients with Angled Crown, then I can focus my energy and effort into what I’m doing with the Agency Trailblazer community and grow that side. Equally Event Engine is growing beyond our wildest dreams, and that agency is where I can put all of my resources as a business owner and an agency owner. So we took the decision to help me to slow down, which was to stop on-boarding any new clients any more from Angled Crown and then just work with a few clients each year that we like to work with and we know we can add that real value. So that’s given me a massive amount of time now spare to be able to rest as well as to plan for the future, doing what I absolutely love.
So folks, this is kind of been a bit of all over the place ramble, but I want to do the Lee Jackson recap just to help compartmentalize it. Number one, burnout is not good and you probably need to slow down if you’re seeing any of those signs, those extra working hours that you might be doing, the poor sleep, involuntary twitching, the poor mental health, you’re feeling demotivated. That feeling of being trapped. Any of those signs and more are a sign you need to slow down and the ways you can slow down would first and foremost mean admit it to yourself and somebody else for accountability. Review task lists, off load some of that work, fire problem clients/projects. Take some holiday, a long weekend, maybe, if that’s all you can do. Hopefully for an entire week if you really can. And finally, if you really need to engage with that emergency hard stop, where you just need to take a few days out and take some time.
Let’s take a look at the comments before we wrap up. We have got good morning live Matthew Jackson from Leo Mindell. We’ve got good morning from Mel Phalen. We also have a morning from Dave Hibbett. We have another one from Nick says about to drive. So we’ll watch the replay, but an important topic. I’m glad you wrote that just before you started driving. Matt says so much easier to slow down and get back on track mentally/physically than to recover from breaking down and hitting burnout.
I wish I’d said it like that. Vicious circle here from Leah mindell. Vicious circle. It becomes hard work and kills relationships. Absolutely right, mate. And morning, so scary to take a holiday. Yes, it is. You’re absolutely right. We’ve actually booked ourselves a staycation for August. We’re staying home in a week’s time because I recognized it myself, that I’ve taken that decision to essentially stop any new clients and I go crown. The other part of the decision, which is scary, is to go we’re also taking a holiday.
So I’ve got a whole week off. Next week I’ll pre-recording all my lives and we’ll schedule them all out. I may even choose not to do any lives just to take that week off and relax. And that sounds beautiful and equally scary because I know that things certain things won’t get done or certain decisions won’t necessarily get made, but in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think that’s. Nothing’s more important than your mental health and your physical well-being and your family life and your friendships and all of that sort of stuff.So like a week off, even two weeks off is is fine if we can rationalize it in that sort of way.
Folks, you’re all awesome. Thank you so much for joining me. I’ve definitely gone over time today, but this was an important subject. Take care of yourselves. If you are struggling with your mental health in any sort of way, please do reach out to the community. Check out Big Orange Heart, I am going to put a link to them in the comments and I’ll pin it as well so you guys can go ahead and check Big Orange Heart out and the community for some support. Have a wonderful day folks.
So that wraps up this episode. I hope you had value from it. And if you did, can you let me know by heading over to leematthewjackson/live and hitting that like button? We do content every single day, five days a week apart from this week. Yep. Because I too am practicing what I preach and I’m taking a break. We’re having a staycation with the family. This podcast was recorded before we did all that.We’ve got an amazing plan. We want to visit the zoo. We want to go to the park. We want to have a picnic. So if you have not had time off, please consider having some time off and catching up with your family, with your friends, and most importantly, with yourself.
Don’t forget folks, this episode was sponsored by Cloudways. You can check them out over on cloudways.com. They are my favorite cloud provider and they’ve just launched an amazing tool to help with bot protection. So be sure to check them out cloudways.com or the show notes for any links or special offers that may be available as of the time of you listening.
Folks, if we don’t see you over in our community at Agencytrailblazer.com/group, then we will see you in next week’s episode.