AMY PORTERFIELD: “I also think of my students who do one-on-one work and they're thinking about going back to a nine-to-five job just to avoid the burnout they're feeling from all the one-on-one work that they're dealing with. And I'm like, ‘No, that is not what you want to do.’ Or students who are in the corporate world and have this amazing skill that they can share, but they're facing burnout and they're not sure where to turn. Like, they're burnt out in their nine-to-five job, and they want to do something different, but the burnout is, like, clouding their vision and not allowing them to see, hold on; there's a whole opportunity of a business you can create with digital courses that will allow you to step out of the kind of burnout that you're feeling.
“So I really do believe that a digital course has helped so many of my students avoid burnout, whether it be in their business or climbing the corporate ladder, while still enjoying their skill set, their knowledge, what they teach. Because if you hit burnout, you hate everything. You hate teaching what you used to love teaching. So my goal is to give tools to help people manage the burnout when it happens, because it happens to all of us, but also get there a whole lot less.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY: Well, hey, there, friend. Welcome back to Online Marketing Made Easy.
I wanted to check in and see how you're doing. At the time of this recording, it's summer, and I am actually just coming back from kind of like three weeks off, but it worked out kind of weird. So in June, I took almost two weeks off. I went to California and did a few other things. And then, I checked back in for a few days. Then, I took the Fourth of July week off with my family at the lake. And then, I went into a leadership retreat, but it was at the lake, so it kind of felt like half work, half fun. And now here I am for my first week back in about three weeks.
So last year I took an entire month off, and I made a podcast episode about that entire month off and how I planned for it and how it went; the good, bad, and ugly. I’ll link to that episode in the show notes of this one in case you wanted to listen to it. But it was really difficult for me. Mentally, it was hard for me to prepare for a month off and be present during a month off. And I don't know what that says about me—probably some good things and some bad things—but it's who I am. So I struggled with a full month off.
But having these three weeks off and coming in for a few scheduled days to be back in the office made me feel more calm and allowed me to have the time off but not stress about it. So I kind of found my groove with these three weeks with a few workdays sprinkled in, and it worked for me.
And I think that's what's important about this episode. When I talk about burnout, burnout is individualized. It shows up for each of us in very specific, unique ways, and how to get out of it is very specific and unique sometimes as well. But I'm going to do my best to kind of offer an alternative so that you don't keep going back to being on the brink of burnout. So that's what we're going to talk about today.
And let me just tell you, burnout is something all too common in the entrepreneurial world. The reason I wanted to shed some light on this topic is that I've experienced it firsthand, and I've heard stories from many of my students time and time again who have experienced it as well.
And you know what it is, right? I am sure you've been on the brink of burnout, or not even on the brink; you've been totally burnt out. It's when you wake up in the morning and you dread the work you have to do, even though, before, you used to enjoy it. It's when you sit down at your computer, and it's almost like your mind goes blank because you don't really want to do anything, because you're emotionally and physically exhausted, but you know you need to get it done because you've committed to it, and you just kind of stare at the screen. There's a lot of resentment that usually comes up with burnout. There’s a lot of, “Oh my gosh. I am so exhausted.” You've kind of lost that passion for things that you used to absolutely love, both personally and professionally. And you probably have a short fuse. You're quick to be a little bit mean sometimes; a little bit short with your team, yourself, your spouse, your partner, whatever it might be. It shows up in so many different ways. Maybe I'm just explaining how it shows up for me, but hopefully you can relate to some of that. Please tell me I'm not alone.
So I'm going to actually put a little twist on this, from something that I know very well. So I knew that when—I’ve hit burnout a few different times. And I will say, fourteen years in, my burnout looks a whole lot different than it used to look. So years and years ago, about two years into building my business, I hit burnout, and I was working one on one with clients, and I literally didn't want to talk to another client for the rest of my life. It was terrible. I got to a point that I was the “yes” girl for all my clients; their expectations of what I could do were wildly unrealistic, thanks to me having zero boundaries; and I did not enjoy the one-on-one work at all. I hit burnout, and my story was that I actually woke up one morning and decided to “fire” all my clients that were paying me, and do something different.
Now, I don't actually suggest what I did, because I went into debt before I actually could get a successful digital course up and running because I didn't have Digital Course Academy at the time. I didn't know what the heck I was doing, I was winging it, and that was a very bad idea. So I fired all my clients, created my first digital course. It was a huge failure in terms of dollar amount, what I thought I would make and what I did make. And so I really struggled until I finally got it up and going, and then I never looked back. I wouldn't change any of that for the world because that's my story. But dang, was it rough.
But fast forward, and over the fourteen years I've been doing this, there have been pockets of burnout, and the most recent one was after I launched my book Two Weeks Notice. So I went hard, hard for six months launching that book. And you all know my story. I did a whole podcast about it. My mother-in-law died the week my book came out, which was very unexpected and heartbreaking. And so I have been dealing with a husband who is in severe grief. And so after that, it was really, really rocky. And I crash pretty hard. However, I had the tools that I could take care of myself, reach out for help, talk to a therapist. I knew the things I needed to do to protect myself from going into a deep, dark hole.
And so when I say burnout looks a lot different on me now, it's because I have the tools. I have a type of business that allows me to not be present every minute. I have a team that can take care of me when I do need to step aside. So burnout these days looks a whole lot healthier, if you could say that, than it did fourteen years ago. But it still shows up for me. I am very much a normal human being that when things get tough and they're over, I need to step back and kind of have some time away and realize, whoa, I am exhausted. So anyway, just to say, it shows up still, but I handle it a whole lot different.
And what I can say is that I knew that creating a digital course would be good for my business, but I never could have guessed what a total game changer it would become for my mental health, for my freedom, for the opportunity to create a business on my terms.
I also think of my students who do one-on-one work and they're thinking about going back to a nine-to-five job just to avoid the burnout they're feeling from all the one-on-one work that they're dealing with. And I'm like, “No, that is not what you want to do.” Or students who are in the corporate world and have this amazing skill that they can share, but they're facing burnout and they're not sure where to turn. Like, they're burnt out in their nine-to-five job, and they want to do something different, but the burnout is, like, clouding their vision and not allowing them to see, hold on; there's a whole opportunity of a business you can create with digital courses that will allow you to step out of the kind of burnout that you're feeling.
So I really do believe that a digital course has helped so many of my students avoid burnout, whether it be in their business or climbing the corporate ladder, while still enjoying their skill set, their knowledge, what they teach. Because if you hit burnout, you hate everything. You hate teaching what you used to love teaching. So my goal is to give tools to help people manage the burnout when it happens, because it happens to all of us, but also get there a whole lot less. And I believe digital courses could absolutely be the best asset in your business to protect you.
So not only does a course provide structure and consistency to your business, but it can actually lessen the amount of hustle and work that you do. Now, you may be thinking, “But Amy, creating a course, that is a lot of work.” And while it may feel like a lot of work to create your course the first time, what doesn't feel like a big undertaking when it's the first time you've done it and it's a means to a lot of opportunity down the road? Of course, it's going to take a work to get there, right? But the bulk of the effort comes from the initial setup. Yes, I definitely still update and tweak my course all the time. But by being able to build off of what that sturdy foundation looks like, it takes far less stress and far less work to improve the course that I've created and launch year after year.
We also are able to continuously tweak our launch to maximize our success without heading into total burnout. I think total burnout happens more for those that are constantly starting from scratch, constantly reinventing the wheel, constantly looking for something new. When you do that over and over and over again, not only are you slowing your entrepreneurial growth, but you're also reaching burnout faster because starting from scratch, that initial work—imagine doing that four, five, six times a year? Of course you're feeling burnt out. Building off of what you've already created, making something go from good to great, that's where you eliminate a lot of the burnout, and that's what a digital course can do for you.
So if you're feeling like your business could use more consistency, it could use more revenue, I can't encourage you enough to create a digital course. Now, you might be saying, “Amy, you're so biased. Like, you teach people how to create a digital course. Of course you're telling me that this is the way to go.” My friend, what I'm sharing with you is not just based on my success selling a digital-course model; it's based on the thousands of students that I've been able to help and seeing what it's done for them.
I wouldn't just teach something because it's helped me. Where my passion comes from is hearing from so many of my students and what it has done for them. So my conviction around this, my encouragement around at least exploring how a digital course could change your business comes from watching my beautiful students transform their businesses and their lives into something that they are so incredibly proud of, and that's something that is very lucrative in their lives. So just know my opinions on creating a digital course in your business is much more seated in what I've seen it done for my students, students with small audiences, small email list, never created anything in their life online before, those kind of success stories.
Another thing that I did to avoid burnout and something I've seen many of my students do was putting my digital course on evergreen. So I have a digital course called Digital Course Academy. I only launch it once a year in September, and that is a live launch because I go through the live experience of creating your course and launching it with you. However, I have another course called List Builders Society, and that course is all about starting an email list from scratch. That is on evergreen, evergreen meaning I sell a course or multiple courses every single day, even when I'm sleeping. It's on automation, and it brings in incredible revenue all year long. So this means that I don't have to live launch with it if I choose not to, and it runs every single day. And when done right, it can be an incredible driver in your business.
If you've been with me for a while, you know that I recommend you live launch a few times a year before going into evergreen. And I think the best balance is one course that you do live once or twice a year, and then, maybe another course that you have that you just go evergreen. So now you have the best of both worlds.
And if you want a real-life example, go to episode 486. Not now, but just jot this down, amyporterfield.com/486. I'll put it in the show notes. It's one of my students, Jessica Berk, and she has a six-figure-a-month course that she has on evergreen. So she has an evergreen course; it makes six figures a month. It's such a cool story, and I think it can inspire you.
Okay. So once you have a course and once you decide to also have an evergreen offer, it's time to look at how you're spending your time. Another thing that has significantly helped me and my students avoid burnout is time blocking. So for me, I want to work hard, but I don't want it to feel frantic or chaotic. I want to know what I'm going to work on and be able to deeply focus, and time blocking is a life changer for that.
So I've got a lot of episodes on Online Marketing Made Easy—and you don't have to remember all of these. I'll put them all in the show notes—but I did do an episode on time blocking, which is basically how I get so much done in such a short period of time, working a four-day workweek. And it's episode 480. So I'll put that in the show notes.
Now, I won't go into too much detail here since I have an entire episode on it, but let me give you the CliffsNotes. So for me, time blocking is crucial to my business because it helps me get really clear about the action items I'm going to be doing during the day. So I wake up knowing exactly what my outcomes are and what to expect. And it also helps me to cruise through tasks without context switching. Now, again, this is especially important because I work a four-day workweek, meaning I can't be switching from one project to another all week, because nothing will get done.
Context switching is I'm recording a podcast for you right now. But if I were to pause this and put out a social-media post real fast because I forgot to do that on Threads and then come back, that's context switching. Once I come back, I'm like, “Wait a second. Where was I? What was I talking about?” It takes a long time to get back into the flow. That's the last thing you want to do is interrupt your flow. So listening to episode 480 could be incredibly valuable for you just to stop the context switching.
Now I have an assistant. Her name is Christine—we call her Queenstine because she is the queen of the business—and she helps me block out large chunks of time for tasks. So, for example, all of my podcast recordings happen during a batched podcast time on my calendar, which happens to be right now. So I will do several podcast episodes in the next few hours because we blocked it.
I also make sure that I schedule in non-negotiables, like doctor's appointments or family events, so I know those are accounted for. I call them non-negotiables because I am going to take care of myself. I'm going to the dentist. I'm going to the dermatologist. I'm going to take care of myself. I'm also not going to miss family dinners and time with my mom and all of that, but I have to schedule it.
Now, I will tell you, working a four-day workweek, one thing I encourage on my team and I'm an example of this is I try not to make many, if any, like, doctor's appointments, dentist’s appointments during the four days. We get Fridays off. So if I can go to an appointment on Friday versus Thursday at 3:00 p.m., I will, because there really is so much less time to get it done, or I'll do it at my lunch hour. So if I've got an hour for lunch, I can run over. If I've—I can't run to the dentist, get a checkup and a clean, and then run back in an hour. So if it's going to take more than an hour, I do try to make it on a Friday. It's not always perfect, but I try it.
But time blocking has been really important in being able to scale without burning out, and I'm always recommending it to my friends and my family.
And then, one last thing that has truly helped me avoid burnout, and that is something that I've talked about over and over again—I mentioned, like, five times in this episode—a four-day workweek. So I didn't just choose a four-day workweek for me. I wasn’t going to be comfortable doing it unless I invited my team into it. Now, you could start with you as the owner, CEO, or whatever it might be, but I just started with my team.
Now, I do recommend a book called Shorter. It's by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, and this is the book we read in order to prepare to go to a four-day workweek. And one of the things he talks about in the book is to give yourself a ninety-day trial, meaning when I introduced this to my team, I said, “We're going to try it for ninety days. And I reserve the right to say, ‘This is not right for our team,’ after ninety days.”
This is something that has transformed, I think, my team's mental health, not just mine, meaning we look at things different; we have more fun; we feel more connected. It's just been incredible. There's been benefits far beyond what I expected. So highly recommend a four-day workweek.
I never thought I'd be able to do it. I made more money in 2022 with a four-day workweek than I made in 2021, just saying. So it definitely is possible.
And I know Jenna Kutcher just took her team to a four-day workweek. We were just talking about it yesterday. I wish I did it years and years and years ago, when I was a smaller business.
So with a little planning, actually a lot of planning, and increased efficiency, we were able to do this, and you can, too. And yes, it did take a lot of strategizing and planning upfront. But let me tell you, it's so worth it. Again, we've been doing it for a few years now. We started in 2021.
And I will also say this. So my team works Monday through Thursday, eight hours a day, sometimes nine, depending on what we're working on. And when we go into a launch, we bring Fridays back, and that is known on the team. So during September, when we are launching Digital Course Academy, we will be working Fridays. And the reason why that is so important is not that there's so much work to get done—because by the time we're launching, we've done the bulk of the work—it's that we're in a launch. People are asking questions on a Friday. They are sending emails into Support. They’re live on our chat with our sales page. We have to be present. And what we don't love is, like, “Okay. Customer support, you work on Friday, but everyone else takes off.” We're a team that bands together. So that's why it's important: we have people counting on us during those times.
So anyway, I want to recap four things I've done and my students have done to help with eliminating or at least lessening the burnout and jumping back quickly when you start to feel it.
So number one is create a digital course. It is absolutely a way. So if you create the digital course once and then you're just tweaking it year after year, you're not starting from scratch, which starting from scratch over and over again, that is a recipe for burnout. Number two, eventually figure out how to create a course and turn it on evergreen, which I do teach you to do in Digital Course Academy. If you have access to it or you join me this year, I'll teach you how to do that. There's a lot of steps to take, but once it's in place, golden. Also, time blocking, really being consistent and efficient with your time and avoiding the context switching. And finally—this is a big one, but at least explore the idea. Maybe this is a goal for next year—incorporating a four-day workweek. I know it's a big deal, but you will be like, “Amy, I'm so glad you encouraged me to do so.”
Okay. So now it's actually your turn. I would love to know some of the ways that you are avoiding burnout. Are you going to implement any of these things? Do you have some things you do on your own? Don't push off this question. Like, really. What are you doing to protect yourself from burnout? Often, we feel too busy to even sit down and figure out solutions to get us out of the chaos, but that's what we need more than anything. And remember, we are not—most of us are not—curing cancer or are rocket scientists, meaning the work we do is important, but some things can be put on hold in order for us to catch up, in order for us to fix what's not working, in order for us to eliminate some of the chaos. So sometimes I'm like, “This project needs to be on hold while I figure this out, and then I'll come back to it.” Allow yourself a little bit of that grace.
So thank you so much for hanging out with me today. And if you'd be so kind, please invite an entrepreneurial friend to come listen to Online Marketing Made Easy.
I got to tell you just really quick before I let you go, my son Cade, he turns twenty-one in July. He's my stepson. And he is at his very first intern in San Diego. It's at—it's kind of like a think tank, and it's for mechanical engineering. He's in aerospace engineering, but he got an intern for mechanical. And the guys there are brilliant, like, some brilliant minds that he gets to work with. And they've been encouraging him to listen to podcasts, which I mean, this momma here is so very over the moon. So he'll come to me, and he'll say, “Amy, have you ever heard of Joe Rogan?” Like, “I have.” And he's like, “I listened to this podcast with him and Elon Musk, and this was what it was about.” And like, I'm dying of excitement that he is starting to listen to these podcasts. But why I bring this up right now is that someone who he admires introduced him to four or five different podcasts that he now listens to while he drives forty-five minutes into his internship, and his mind is exploding. This is brand new to him.
And so imagine what you could do for someone who is just thinking about entrepreneurship, just getting their foot in the water, but they're just not sure. Imagine if you shared this podcast with them, and a whole new world would open up for them like it has for Cade.
So I hope you'll do that. Pay it forward. Grab the link to this episode or to this podcast in general. Text it or share it with a friend.
All right, my sweet friends. Thank you so much for tuning in. I will see you Thursday for more entrepreneurial goodness. Bye for now.