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Long Work Hours Lead to Burnout — Not Productivity. Learn When to Step Back From Certain Tasks — And When to Step Up Fatigue is a reality for many of us, but how can we learn to do less and figure out where to really focus our efforts to become truly effective entrepreneurs?

By Evgeny Kireev Edited by Maria Bailey

Key Takeaways

  • Doing too much gets in the way of your long-term growth. Here's why it's important to know when to take a step back from certain tasks and know when to step in to achieve entrepreneurial success.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As an investor and entrepreneur with a number of business activities, I love what I do, but sometimes I wonder if I'm working too much. Entrepreneurs don't work office hours with guaranteed weekend downtime to relax and recharge with family and friends.

Entrepreneurial fatigue is a reality for many of us, even if we don't recognize it or are reluctant to admit it, and being passionate about what you do as an entrepreneur means you never really switch off from work mode. But sometimes less really means more. So why should we learn to let go of the so-called work "hustle culture," and what steps should we take to prevent it? Here are some lessons and strategies I have learned while navigating this harmful lifestyle.

Related: How to Disrupt Hustle Culture and Build a Business That Supports Your Wellness

Doing too much gets in the way of your long-term growth

A company that tries to do too much by way of products or services usually ends up doing none of them with excellence. Resources are spread too thin, goals become confused, and the results are often mediocre rather than outstanding.

This holds true not only at a company level but also as an individual. Culturally, we have standardized the idea that being busy equates to being successful, and a jam-packed daily schedule creates the perception that our work must be important and that our time has great market value.

This emphasis on quantity over quality really has nothing to do with the actual work done or our engagement in it. In fact, the more commitments we have, the less we engage and the more stressed we become, with negative consequences at work and at home. Being busy doesn't mean being productive – truthfully, it can have the opposite effect.

Why you need balance

As entrepreneurs, we often find it difficult to maintain a good work-life balance, dedicating the appropriate time and space to our own emotional and spiritual well-being. Business owners with commitments to investors, clients and teams frequently fear that everything they have set in motion will simply grind to a halt without their constant input.

You really can't do everything, and it's essential to learn to let go – hard as it may be. Ask yourself some critical questions and find honest answers about what you can let go, what you can delegate, and who can assist so that you are not overstretched.

It's easy to convince yourself that you don't have time for hobbies, rest and self-care when, in fact, the truth is you haven't made them a priority. Do regular exercise, eat well and get adequate quality sleep — these will all reduce stress levels, improve creativity and ultimately benefit your business activities. It's okay to prioritize your health; it's essential for your long-term success.

Set up a routine that prioritizes "me-time" as much as other people's needs and to-do lists. Establish boundaries with partners, clients, and teams—let them know, and then stick to those limits without feeling guilty. Remember that experiences bring more happiness than possessions, so set goals of quality time and memorable moments with family and friends alongside your professional goals for your business.

While I am passionate about game-changing, industry-disrupting, innovative enterprises, there may be such a thing as too much entrepreneurship. After all, anything in excess becomes a poison, and the startup phenomenon has certainly reached a fever pitch.

Related: Hustle Culture Is Dying — And It Should Be. Here's How to Start Working Less.

Prioritize important tasks based on their level of urgency and importance

The hustle and the grind are modern concepts that promise success in return for hard work, long hours, and unwavering determination in a society that is more brutally competitive and intense than ever before. While there may be a million things to do in a new startup, many of them are unnecessary and fundamentally a waste of time.

If you want to win the game as an entrepreneur, you need to focus on the few activities that are truly essential—the ones that actually grow and prosper your business—while finding other solutions for administrative tasks, unnecessary calls and meetings, and "busywork" activities.

Don't lose sight of your most important asset

Surveys have shown that business owners spend, on average, 40% of their working time on activities that don't actually contribute to making their business grow bigger and better. If you want to be an effective entrepreneur, differentiate between spending time on your business and spending time in it. Focus on the former, the strategic work that actually builds your business, and get someone else to do the rest.

Many entrepreneurs, particularly first-timers, also make the huge mistake of spending too much time chasing funding. Remember that your business is your customers, not your investors, so don't let fundraising take priority over developing and selling products and building relationships with customers. As an investor myself, I look for people who are good at selling a product or service — not good at selling me a business idea.

Do what you do best and do what you love, because excellence in your areas of expertise generates what psychologists call "achievement motivation", and this is a predictor of success in business. Focus on what empowers you and avoid what discourages you. Don't listen to everyone — this can be tiring and confusing — but always listen to your customers. They are one of your most valuable business assets, they've experienced what you offer, and they know an aspect of your business that you need to understand as fully as possible.

Your vision is your destination, and strategy is the adaptable route that will get you there. Be flexible and change your strategy as you acquire new information, but keep your vision firm and don't let it be altered by distractions along the way.

Silence the noise to achieve success

While there are huge benefits to being able to work anywhere and anytime, it can also mean we unintentionally end up working everywhere, and all the time with a plate that's so full we risk burnout. Focus is a core factor of success, so focus on what aligns with your goals while learning to say "no" to things that aren't critical to achieving those goals.

This is not being negative; it's being strategic.

Evgeny Kireev

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Investor, entrepreneur, and motorsport enthusiast.

Cyprus-based investor, entrepreneur and motorsport enthusiast. My passions for innovation and thrilling adventures go hand in hand.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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