I’ve been having conversations with VAs who have been in practice for some time about where they can take their solo businesses. We’ve talked growth, working smart, having high standards, learning plans, profitability…but it wasn’t until I sat down this afternoon to work through some email that I heard about burnout–and that wasn’t from an AssistU VA, but it made me want to write about it anyway because if one person is dealing with it, many are.

I’m a huge advocate for knowing what your capacity is (the point where all the balls you’re juggling would hit the floor if you added just one more), and staying far away from it. That, by itself, can prevent burnout (this is smart way #1). But if you’re feeling like you’re already there, or you want to just absolutely avoid being there, do less. If you don’t do so much or push so hard, burnout shouldn’t be an issue.

Here’s another one: As you use great systems and tech to make you more productive and efficient, don’t fill up the time you reclaim with anything work-related. Fill it with your personal life…with things that nurture you. (this is smart way #2)

I hear from Virtual Assistants all the time who want to understand how to maximize their time and be as efficient as possible so they can work with more clients and make more money. Although I coach them to take more time for themselves, I get what they’re talking about—that urge to leverage the time they have. To somehow make more, or contribute more, or.. well, it’s just about the “more.”

Sure, sure, they can do that by creating additional revenue streams. But each stream requires time, energy, attention, marketing—or it’ll never be a “stream” at all—just be a trickle. Creating the streams can be a joy for some, but for others, it’s a path straight to burnout.

The thing is; you don’t need more “stuff” going on in your life in order to get the leverage you want. If you want to leverage yourself, your time, and you want to avoid burnout, here’s the formula you’ve been looking for: fewer clients, paying higher fees, and retaining more hours each month. (smart way #3)

Burnout remedy: Fewer clients, paying higher fees, and retaining more hours each month.

Let’s look at that more closely. Assuming a full-time, 30 billable-hour week, instead of a ten-hour retainer, require 25. That instantly takes you from 10-ish clients to four (with a bit of room for slightly bigger retainers, or overages). Instead of $40/hour, charge $55 (or more!). That instantly takes you from $62K to $86K (or more!). If you can’t get $55 from your existing clients, get new clients. And remember, if you don’t believe you’re “worth” the fee, no one else will. Conversely—if you do believe it, clients will, too. What you get is an easier client load, plus more money, without working one second more than you do now. That’s leverage, pure and simple.

And burnout would only then come if you choose insane clients who press you into insane situations where you’re stepping over your own standards to keep them happy. And you wouldn’t do that, would you? :)