Why Give a Damn:

When you run a company, invest in startups, advise other startups and push your entrepreneur-ing to the limits you are eventually going to burnout. Here are 5 ways to recharge quickly.

The author of this post, Chris Yeh, has been building internet businesses since 1995 and currently serves as the VP of Marketing for PBworks, as well as a General Partner at Wasabi Ventures.

I’m known as a busy guy.  That’s what happens when you help run a company, invest in startups, advise other startups, and write 500 blog posts and articles per year.  That doesn’t even take into account being a husband and father, participating in the school and community, and reading 50 blog posts and articles per day.

While I’m very busy, I’m also very careful to avoid burnout.

Yet while I’m very busy, I’m also very careful to avoid burnout.  I’m no stranger to burnout–when I was in college, I exploited an error in Stanford’s original online class registration system to take double the normal course load, while also writing for the paper, directing an improv comedy troupe, tutoring freshmen on writing, teaching public speaking and counseling, and manning a suicide hotline.  Now that was a bit much…my roommate woke up in the middle of the night because I had a nightmare and was shouting “I resign! I resign!” in my sleep.
Don’t let this happen to you.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve worked out a 5-step approach to recharging in a hurry:

  1. Cross-training
    Cross-training in athletics refers to switching sports, rather than burning yourself out with the same exercises and drills over and over.  As a corporate athlete, cross-training refers to regularly shifting activities.  I consciously shift from activity to activity.  First, I might work on a blog post.  Next, I might answer emails.  After that, I might read and highlight a scholarly article.  The idea is to keep changing what you’re doing so that you don’t have a chance to get bored and burn out.
  2. Interval training
    Interval training in athletics refers to alternating high-intensity exercise with conscious rest periods.  I do the same thing in my life.  I use the Pomodoro Method (20 minutes of sprinting, followed by 5 minutes of rest).  This keeps me fresh, and also gives me convenient reminders to shift activities as part of my cross-training.
  3. Regular exercise
    Everyone knows that exercise is critical for health, stamina, and happiness.  But who has time to go to the gym?  Not me!  So I bring the gym to me.  During those 5 minute “rest” periods during my day, I do quick sets of exercises.  These can be anything from situps to running in place to a complete 7-minute calisthenic workout.  If you stick to this routine, you’ll get more than your daily allowance of exercise, and break up your day.
  4. Regular meals and snacks
    Exercising willpower (“executive function”) depletes your bloodstream’s supply of glucose.  The best way to keep your energy levels up is to eat regularly.  I often cite a study on Israeli parole boards, which found that 60% of inmates received parole when they went before the board immediately after lunch, compared with 5% when they went before the board immediately before lunch.  I snack each morning at 10:30 AM, eat lunch around 12:30 PM, and have an afternoon snack around 3 or 4 PM.
  5. Sleep when you need it
    It’s hard for me to get a full 8 hours of sleep at night–I have kids who like to wake up early, and a dog who tends to wake me up in the middle of the night to play with our insomniac neighbor’s dog.  But rather than wandering around in a zombie-like state of fatigue, I simply sleep when I need it.  Whenever I’m tired, and I don’t have a pressing emergency, I simply lie down for a 10-15 minute nap.  Sometimes I’ll take two or more naps if I’m feeling run down.  It takes far less time than running to Starbucks, with far greater results.  In fact, I took a nap right before starting this post!

These recharging techniques don’t even mention ways in which you can use other people to help you recharge–things like catching up with friends, spending time with loved ones, and participating in regular social activities.  But the beauty of these five techniques is that you can apply them even if you’re a solo founder working out of your parents’ basement.  And if you follow them, you’ll be able to keep yourself running at top efficiency and productivity, even if you have a busy schedule.

About the author

Chris Yeh

Chris Yeh

Chris is the VP Marketing for PBworks, partner at Wasabi Ventures, and an avid startup investor and advisor. He is also a co-author of The Alliance and serial tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.

  • Courtlyn Carpenter

    Thank you so much for sharing this article! It sounds like you have an incredibly busy life – it is impressive that you have managed to stay sane with so much going on! I, too, find myself with a lot of different activities, but I am yet to experience burnout (thankfully!). I agree with all of your suggestions wholeheartedly (and would like to try some of your suggestions for “regular exercise” more often), but I also have found that social interactions and taking breaks to practice my cello and play with my dogs are useful. Most importantly, I think balance is important, and I know that I am happiest when I have a number of different activities making up my day that allow me to focus on different things and use different parts of my brain. Thank you again for this great post – it is always important to think about burnout as a possibility and to know how to prevent this from happening!

  • PKroening

    I would have just one question for you. What are some things that people who are not athletes could do to avoid burn out in their everyday life? So instead of worrying about athletics maybe something like school overload or work overload and you are just stressed to the max. Other than that, thank you very much for sharing this with us!

  • Joseph


    Thank you very much for this post. I am currently a college student however i am not doing all of the things that you were doing in college. I would not be able to handle that. However i do participate in sports and have a job on campus. I enjoyed how you discussed “bringing the gym to you” When i am studying for an exam I always find myself getting easily distracted after a half hour or so. From now on when I find that I am getting easily distracted I am going to take a little break and do some sit ups or push ups or an easy workout for 5 minutes or so.

    What advice would you give for those days where you just have no motivation to do anything and all you want to do is lay in bed? I find that i have those days where i do not want to do anything yet i have so much to accomplish that day. Thanks.

  • Palecekb

    Chris this was great! I myself enjoy working out so the fact that you related everyday tasks to workout techniques was perfect! Comparing two things such as tasks and working out, even though sometimes it feels like working out is a task, makes it easier to be able to relate the two together. I can admit sometimes it can be hard to take a break while in school, which from your examples of everything you were involved in, you could probably completely understand. I think that once I am in the “homework zone” it is hard to break away and think about something else when you know the pressing countdown to the due date or exam date. I also know that sleep is sometimes a hard thing to come by while in school or maybe with a full time job, what would you suggest to those who do not have time or the availability to nap throughout the day?

  • DuCharmeDR11

    I liked how this article was themed around athletics, yet can be applied to all aspects of one’s life. I would like to challenge the cross-training point with the importance of a routine, for benefits of increased efficiency and memory, yet I see where you are coming from. I feel as though I will use these “training” metaphors and apply them to my study habits. It is always great to try new approaches so monotony does not overtake!

  • strakaJA01

    I like all of these suggestions! I especially connect with the eating regular meals and snacks and getting sleep when you need it. I know that I don’t do either of these enough in my life. In my Stress Management class we are setting goals. One of mine is to sleep more, so slowly I am added minutes every night. I also know that I need to eat more frequently throughout the day because when I don’t I tend to get headaches and dizzy spells. This article reminds me that I need to take care of myself more. Chris, do you find that you stick to this 5-step approach? Do you find it easy or hard? Maybe it is habit by now? Thanks for the tips!

  • Drew Cox

    I really enjoyed reading your blog this afternoon! The 5-step program will really come in handy throughout my week. My favorite step in the article would be step number 5. I see to many times to none that we don’t average enough sleep. Motivation is extremely hard t build up when sleep deprived. In one of our health classes our professor is stressing how important sleep is especially at our age. When asked how many hours we generally average a night most of the hands went up when 5-6 hours was asked. When looking at studies, they prescribe college students to average 8-9 hours a night! I know this isn’t ideal in a college setting but such changes can really have an impact our our lives. We need to have a little more strong will and be able to put down the xbox controller, turn off the netflix, or send your friends home! Sleep is extremely essential!! Thanks again for such a great article.

  • Anthony Urbanski

    Love the recharge idea. As a student I am not nearly as busy as some of you may be but I often find myself overwhelmed and running on fumes. This is when I need to take a step back and recharge. For me the eating health portion is the toughest when it only takes 5 minutes to run to McDonald’s in between class. Does anyone else have other ways to recharge?

  • mhansen11

    Dear Chris, Thank you for this article!! Being a college athlete, being burnt out is something very typical that we all go through but there are absolutely ways around this. I really like your 5 different re-charging methods! Sleep is crucial and meals need to be frequent as well. I think the only opposite opinion I would have here would be to combine one and two maybe in different activities with different intervals and put in a mental strengthening factor there. I play softball in college and we definitely work on the mental game a lot and I feel as though if life gets to hard sometimes you need to take a step back and BREATHE, then clear your head and figure out what you can and cannot control..
    Thank you again!

  • Caitlin Donohue

    First of all let me just say WOW! You did all that in college/one semester?! That is admirable but also sounds very tiring. This is all great advice, thank you for that. I especially like #1 with changing what you’re doing so you don’t burnout. Do you have any advice on studying? Since you have to study the same subject for quite some time, how do you avoid getting burnt out from that?

  • http://parisinmadison.blogspot.com/ Amanda O.

    That pretty much sums up my college career. Though not exactly involved in the same things as you Chris but I do have a lot of responsibilities and obligations throughout my college career. I have been using most of the techniques that you’ve mentioned above, especially #1. These are all super effective techniques. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kobajr18

    Great article! I enjoy how everything was related to exercise. As a Health and Human Performance major this all hit home for me. The tips on not burning out are all very simple and seem easy to follow. I am curious if you do any meditating or set aside any time during the day to just simply clear your mind?

  • Kobajr18

    I, like Caitlin, am also curious on how you avoid burnout throughout your college career. Taking classes that are all generally the same and avoiding burnouts can be challenging. What is your advice on this topic?

  • Kobajr18

    Completely agree with this! The athletic theme was a great touch and can be applied to different aspects of ones life. I also am interested to see if these can work for me.

  • Mcgrailkk30

    Chris, what a fantastic article! These strategies apply to my life in so many ways and are so simple it would be silly not to give them a try. At this point in my life homework, practice, work and other extracurricular activities can be really overwhelming but recharging helps to stay on top of it all. Just out of curiosity, what kinds of brain food do you snack on to keep your energy high?

  • Haley Horn

    Thank you for sharing. I always need to “recharge” whether it’s taking a nap, watching tv, or even having a conversation with a friend. My mom has taught me the art of the power nap (15-30 min) and I have found that it has worked better than a 2 hour nap. I am glad you interduced the “cross training” method because it is so true. As a college student, I get so bored doing the same routine over and over, so I am going to try and switch it up a bit by switching subjects more often.

  • Matthew Gust

    Thank you Mr. Yeh for this article. I find it to be very beneficial especially for myself at this point in my life. I am a college student taking the most credits I have ever taken before along with a job and my involvement with student organizations. I have learned quickly that it can very easy to get burned out. I always try to have some variety throughout my day. A lot of times we get caught up in the same old routine day after day. Change it up! Making sure you stay active and eat right are huge components to my day. In order to get the most use of your time you need to be at your best. In my opinion the only way to be at your best is with good nutrition, and good night’s rest, and staying physically active.

  • KevinThomson32

    I cannot agree more with you on this article. I started implementing all four of these things and I have found a drastic change on my health and my energy levels. Although I do have a lot of time during the day to workout soon I will not. I will really have to start taking these 5 minute workout tips and changing my workout routine to keep me healthy and alert all day.

  • ghilonipt09

    I snack on mostly healthy foods like fruits and vegetable because it helps keep your energy levels up when trying to concentrate. With fatty foods it weighs your system down not only physically but mentally. Keeping your energy high consists of mostly just eating a healthy diet overall.

  • Mcgrailkk30

    Thanks for the advice! I already maintain a healthy diet I was just looking for some new snack ideas to try. Some of my current favorites are nuts and Quest bars.

  • Alise Brown

    I thought this article was really insightful, I have practised some of these and have found the results to be outstanding. I have taken short naps throughout my busy days and have found that my mind is more efficient and I am able to stress less. Although when I lay down for my naps I find that I have to have my alarm go off a couple minutes earlier because it is so hard to get up after laying down. However I do think that exercise is very important but I perfer to have separate scheduled time instead of during a 5 minute break time. Switching up tasks also sounds like a good idea and I feel like that would be a beneficial step for me to try out, however I do like to be able to finish a task completely and stay in the same area of topic, but I will have to see how that works out for me!

  • kyliekielsky

    This article seems to be quite insightful. I look forward to trying out these suggestions myself.

  • AmberDraina

    I find this article particularly helpful because I am a full time student who also works full time and burn out seems inevitable with me. I do find it very helpful especially when I am doing homework to break my assignments down into smaller pieces so i do not get burnt out on one subject.

  • sgawinski

    These are some good points. I can definitely see how it would be beneficial to take certain rest periods, or change up activities and what not. Even though we are busy we can definitely benefit from taking steps to prevent burn out.

  • Skowronssj06

    These five techniques are golden! I find myself getting burned out every once in while from school, work and social life. Especially on the days where I wake up earl, have class all day till 4:45, have club meeting till 6 then study till I got to bed. Knowing these five tricks will improve my daily schedule and help me get through these wonderful undergraduate classes.

  • danac501

    Thank you for this article! Being active and in college at the same time there can be a chance of burnout. These five techniques can help many people in college especially college athletes to not burn out. I am one to do the cross training technique because I get bored easily it keeps my brain going in different directions. You said you learned this techniques now that your older. What advice would you give a very involved college student that is on the brink of burning out? They are well past having your techniques help them out.

  • Kaylie Mae Kuhnke

    really enjoying all of the blogs on burn outs besides sports related. I find myself getting to the edge of burning out with class school and attempting to have a social life and a boy friend who lives 2 hours away. I felt the five tips could be helpful for me to not burn out.

  • Alex Prailes

    This is something I wish I could have stumbled upon in high school. In high school, I was taking half high school classes and half college courses on top of sports. I don’t think many people realize that once you get burned out it’s so easy to become re-burned out. I wish I could have read this article a couple years ago to help me prevent getting burned out.

  • knapprl17

    These five tips will help me in the future so I don’t burnout! I am a college athlete taking a full class load and involved in a lot. I have realized this year that some times I just need a break. Throughout the past year I have used that sleeping one. I have found it extremely helpful to take a 15 minute nap a couple times to keep my energy level high enough to make it through all my activities.

  • Natasha Tynczuk

    Great article! As a college student, it is very easy to get burned out. I especially like the idea of bringing the gym to you. I tend to do quick exercises during my “rest” periods too, and I find that it really helps. Regular meals and snacks is very important too, as long as you eat responsibly and don’t overindulge.

  • sgawinski

    This is a great idea. I will definitely have to look into it. We definitely need to destress in different ways and reading is something that is often overlooked

  • Andrew Bliefernicht

    That is exactly what I was thinking! Sure it’s important if you body is physically able to do different things and to avoid your body from being burnt out, but the most important organ in your body is your brain and you need to prevent that from being burnt out. I agree with the ways you recommended to prevent your mind from becoming burnt out. Thank you for your comment.

  • Andrew Bliefernicht

    I enjoyed this article. As a Physical Education major fitness is a huge part of my life and those are excellent ways to prevent burnout. But another huge part that you missed is burnout of the mind. The brain is the most important organ in the human body and if that burns out, your body is done. Many people have been hospitalized because of burnout of their mind. Other than rest and taking time off what ways would you or other readers recommend to prevent burnout of the mind?

  • hmcavey

    Awesome! Truly an awesome post. Being involved in the community, work, and various other engaging events require such a large expenditure of brain work. By breaking down your own day to day life and the “relief-points” in your day, it changes my mind about how I need to structure my day.

  • thomas kearney

    I really like this article . I consider myself a health guru from time to time and I think these are the perfect tips to prevent burn out. I think eating regular and getting the right amount of sleep is important tip. I thank you for providing these thoughtful tips. I think a lot of people should take what you presented today into consideration.

  • Amanda Wood

    We talked alot about recharging and burnouts in class this semester. It almost stunned me to realize that I am probably more burnt out than I ever thought I was. I also realized that recharging is not giving up its taking care of myself and really working with my full strength. I honestly can say I will still have times where I burn myself to the ground, but I will probably be more aware of the signs now when it happens and will know I have to recharge myself.

  • Cossioj14

    This is a great article. I think people dont think burnout is a real thing and it can be prevented. I like your 3-6 steps of preventing burnout because I am big into health and fitness and eating and exercising regularly can be a great tool to escaping and preventing burn out.

  • Glassborow

    This article is great! You’d think they would be difficult tips that only a few people would actually be able to follow, but no, they are the easiest and simplest ways! Sleep well, eat better and exercise regularly, anyone can do this if they want to feel better. I also really like how you relate cross training to your actual work during the day and that you always try to do quick workout during your free time. Instead of making everything so complicated, with weird diets and exercise regimes, people just need to be taught these 5 steps and they will be successful and healthy for the rest of their lives.

  • alexlavine

    Sometimes I go through stretches where I don’t eat particularly healthy because I’m too busy to make up a healthy meal. When I eat unhealthy I then find myself feeling more tired and as a result of needing more sleep and then I don’t exercise. This all starts with a poor diet and in my experiences it all runs together. It just sends me into a funk. I find that when I am eating healthy that I am far more productive and my sleep patterns are more regular. I wake up in the morning not feeling tired, but instead feeling refreshed and ready to go. I do agree with some of the cross training ideas of mixing exercises up etc. Our routines can get redundant and boring so if we mix it up a bit it will keep us more fresh.

  • Kayla Martin

    I really appreciate this post. I’m in college and I am crazy busy. I am on the swim team which is a lot of hours about 3-5 hours depending on the day, I coach the local swim team, I lifeguard and teach swim lessons at another local pool, being that I am a senior I am trying to get everything done to graduate, and then there is school which seems to be falling on the back burner most of the time. Which really is not good. I need to find time in my day for school without taking anything out. I get about 9 hours of sleep a night which I would like more I am always so tired. Do you have any suggestions on what I could do to try and get more time for my homework and readings?

  • Tawni Meyer

    I enjoyed this article some of this stuff is true and helpful. But i also agree with your statement and wish it was added into the article. Sometimes i just need to realx and read a book.

  • gmurillo86

    I do appreciate this article, because at may times in my day I feel over-worked or “burnt out” , and don’t eat as often as I should. So now I realize that all of the options combined make for an all around healthy lifestyle. Physical exercise combined with mental exercise is probably an ideal way to stay fit. This article didn’t mention mental fitness techniques, but I like to play scrabble(it relaxes me and sharpens my vocabulary), and play sudoku, and do crossword puzzles(to keep my brain sharp).

  • gaulrappkj17

    I believe that David has a point. We can only make our body do so much, but the brain and mind have to be rejuvenated as well. We need to remember the 7 realms of wellness, if we leave out just one, it takes away the effectiveness.

  • milleram97

    Being constantly busy can be a real hassle, but there’s no need to let that control your life.
    Sure there are obligations that need to be taken care of, but sometimes it is okay to just take a step back and remember that ‘hey, this body, this brain, needs a breather’
    You don’t need to make it a 3 hour break, but continuous ones throughout the day can completely change it’s outcome.
    Also, it is good to alter what you’re focusing on and the intensity of it. Your body can handle times of extreme pressure, but after that it also needs times of extreme relaxation. Don’t neglect it, work with it.

  • Sarah Kasiurak

    I agree with switching to different activities to help avoid burnout, especially in athletics. Your body needs rest from doing the same thing all the time. I think that cross training is an excellent way to do that. I also agree that breaks are needed throughout the day!

  • GSonDUBS

    Very interesting tips, I can’t wait to try them, even though I am no where near as busy as he is. I’m interested in the 10-15 minute naps. Don’t really know if that would work for me? I don’t always fall asleep the moment I close to my eyes… plus “power naps” never worked for me, they usually make me feel more tired for the rest of the day…

  • Colin HIckey

    I think that the one thing that needs to be added to this article is that you need to make it enjoyable. So many people go about their lives miserable because they are constantly busy on the way to a burnout. If they would just did their job in a way that they enjoyed it, all of these other steps would come more naturally.

  • AndreaOlsen22

    These 5 steps are extremely important for everyone to be aware of. We need to actually put these 5 steps to use because “burnout” is a serious matter. Once someone reaches “burnout” it’s extremely hard to overcome it. What’s disappointing too is that all your hard, strenuous work went to waste because you simply did too much of it with no breaks. Don’t get me wrong working hard is important, but so is your health. Taking care of yourself first is the biggest matter. If you’re not well, how do you perform or work well? Take breaks to be with the people that really matter in your life.

  • DuchAM21

    These are great tips as to how to recharge. I liked the reference to cross-fit. I know that when I am at work and have several different tasks to do, it is much easier to continue working than doing the same thing over and over again. These are great tips and simple enough to be able to remember.

  • Amy Rink

    Thank you for posting this article! I found your post to be very personable. I am currently a college student working two jobs, while trying to balance school work, family and friends. I find myself to experience high amounts of anxiety at times and I have learned through being active all my life that working out is my best stress reliever. Whether that be playing intramural sports with my friends or going to weight room!