Beat Burnout: CEO Tips to Boost Efficiency

What do you do to stay healthy while optimizing for efficiency?

I’m Syama Meagher, the CEO and founder of Scaling Retail. Our clients often ask me exactly what I do or how I maintain to do so much and manage to beat burnout. To be honest, it’s quite personal. I’m sure the ways in which you’re efficient are possibly different from the ways that I’m efficient. However, today, I want to go over a few different ways in which I manage to keep my head on straight, stay focused, be present, make a lot of difficult decisions- and do so regularly.

I started Scaling Retail back in 2008, and we’re coming up on 10 years. Part of that stretch, I was doing it part-time, and part of it I was doing it full-time, and part of it I was doing everything on my own. Now for this part, I’ve been doing everything with a huge team of people. Being able to see the transition throughout the business of not just staying cool, keeping our heads on straight and making decisions, but knowing when to reinvest and all of those big important decisions, really requires us to take a few different approaches towards optimizing our lifestyles so that we can perform at our best.

Starting a fashion company is no small feat. As fashion entrepreneurs, it’s important to remain focused on your goals while balancing the self-care side. It’s the only road to success!

1. Vitamins and Supplements

I’m a huge fan of vitamins, supplements- all of those things. In fact, I take vitamin C in the morning, a B12 supplement and nootropics. Nootropics are really cellular-enhancing supplements. These days, I’ve been using something called Basis, which is basically a super supplement from a company called Elysium. I’ve actually found it to be really awesome. My husband these days has been using something called Brain Boost.

I have to say, once in a while, I’ll kind of dip my hands into his nootropics and supplements. But I really believe in not only taking a multivitamin but something that’s going to help you stay sharp and focused.

When it comes to research and science around supplements and vitamins, obviously, there are so many different studies and things to look at in terms of the quality of the ingredients, what it’s actually promising to do for you, and what are the effects you end up feeling. At the end of the day, certainly, you want to make sure that you’re taking things that are good for you. You want to make sure that they’re not harming you in any ways, and you want to make sure the quality of the supplement you’re taking is actually going to be helpful to you, meaning it has some actual strength in there. I think a really interesting phenomenon lately is everyone has been talking about probiotics, which is something I’m also a big fan of, but now I’ve been hearing a lot more about prebiotics. It’s like where the hell were they 10 years ago? All of us have been running around taking kefir and taking all these probiotics, but no one’s been talking about that stuff. Stay on top of your health to beat burnout. Make sure you’re eating enough green leafy vegetables, but I say my personal secret is vitamins and supplements.

2. Time Management

There’s been a couple of interesting things I’ve been doing and playing with in terms of time management that have really helped keep me from burning out.

Frequent Breaks

I take frequent breaks between client calls and meetings. I take about 15-30 minutes between each of those to be able to check up on emails, run and get a coffee, meditate sometimes if I can, or really catch up on the phone if there’s something urgent I need to tend to.

I have tons of meetings each week and if you’re starting a fashion company or have a well-established brand, it’s likely you are too. Meetings with suppliers, staff, outside collaborators (advertising agencies, consultants)… you name it.

I do not – and I hate – taking meetings back to back to back. I need time to center my brain. I need to refresh it because I play such an integral role in so many different businesses and at managing a somewhat large team. I need to be able to shift and switch gears in a way that allows me to be clear and concise and not feel like I’m being rushed into anything. It’s for the greater good of the business, the team and our clients at the end of the day.

The One Hour Lunch

In conjunction with that, I’ve started taking an hour-long lunch. In fact, I close my computer. I’ll go outside. I’ll eat food. Maybe I’m reading a newspaper for an entire hour. Maybe I’m catching up with a friend, but I don’t do any work during that hour. While that might mean my days are sometimes a bit longer, at least I don’t end up really worn out. I’ve heard a lot of different people speak differently about this. Some people like to plow through entire days and work from 9-5 straight and then be done with it. However, what I’ve actually found works for me is, again, taking a really structured approach. It brings balance to my day, and helps me beat burnout.

What works for you? Also, what worked when you were starting a fashion company may no longer be what’s best for you once you’ve launched additional projects, opened more stores or introduced new brands. Check in every now and then and do what’s right for you.

Time to Read

The other cool thing about having a nice, long lunch break is it allows me to read. These days, I have about six books I’ve been reading. Being able to read books from a whole cross-section of industries, fields and writers allows you to actually be more creative and imaginative, and to see things from different perspectives. Ultimately, it helps you with your business. I understand and guarantee that might be a little bit of a challenge to fit in so much reading, but I guarantee that if you start to read a few books in other fields with other interest groups, it’s actually going to add a whole new way of thinking and a new approach to your existing business.

3. Coping with Pressure and Stress

Lastly, probably one of the more interesting things about this topic, is I really truly believe in monitoring your emotional response. I know that sounds like a very weird thing to say, but imagine this. You’re all business owners. You manage lots of money. You’re managing people. Imagine if every time you got an email from someone, all of a sudden, you got stressed out. Imagine if every time you got an email from someone, you felt overwhelmed. You got anxious. You took it as a failure of your work, or it was some new thing you had to jump and rise to, and it caused a lot of stress. I’ve been, for the last five to seven years or so, really working on this concept of monitoring my emotional responses. Which means as soon as I get an email that can be remotely stressful, I’ll look at it, I’ll see my initial responses, and then I’ll pause and ask myself, “Why am I feeling like this?”

It took me a while to be able to habituate that. I can guarantee that if you’re able to make a habit and practice of questioning your own emotional responses to stressful things, it’ll make it a lot easier for you to manage everything. When we think about how to boost efficiency and productivity, it’s not simply about how many things we can cross off our lists. When you’re the head of a company, it’s all about how you can do so in a way that’s sustainable. It’s about also about how you can make great decisions time and time again, and how you can take your emotions out of it and look objectively while understanding systems and processes.

You’d be surprise how easy it can be to beat burnout when you start analyzing your emotions. If you too can start to think about regulating your emotional responses and be more mindful of why you’re having certain reactions, you’ll find your productivity will also increase dramatically. In fact, the people who work with you and for you will also start to see you as a level-headed, even-keeled person.

4. Delegation

Delegating. Delegating is really valuable. Delegating is so important because at the end of the day, you simply can’t build and grow something purely on your own. You need a team. You need people who can help you grow your business. To be honest, if you don’t trust people, you don’t hire them to do a job, you don’t inspire them, and you don’t lead the team as an effective leader, there’s no point in going into business at all. Delegation is scaling.

The moment your business steps out of you and becomes a company of two or more people, it’s time to share the responsibility. It’s time to prep your business for more income and more revenue. Delegation is very important. While you may not think everyone can do it the same way you can, which you’re probably right, no one else will give a care as much as you do. You do need to build the right team and delegate like crazy.

5. CEO Tech Tools & Success Mantras

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into how I keep my cool and manage things on a day-to-day basis. Please download our CEO success mantras. They’re mantras I use over and over again, things I’ve used with my clients and things I find to be extremely helpful with managing and getting my mindset into the game. Being a CEO and running a company is a mindset. You have to train yourself for it and understand how to optimize to grow your business into something successful and sustainable. If you want to read more about these kinds of issues, please check out our blog post, “The CEO Wellness Toolkit”. These are tools I’ve used, I trust and I love.

When you’re ready to get your mindset in the game, shoot us an email at hello@scalingretail.com. When I get a chance to work one-on-one with CEOs, a beautiful thing happens. You’re learning. You’re hungry. You need mentorship. You want to understand how to build the best possible businesses, and I’m there, along with our consulting team – to stretch you, guide you and make sure you’re doing the best possible steps of actions for your company- whether you’re starting a fashion company or you’re getting ready to scale.

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