As we enter the most hectic and busiest time of the year, I’m sharing how to avoid burnout when managing your goals and workload. Because adulting is hard and we’ve all got to power through!
Hello, there and welcome to another installment of me sharing life lessons I’ve picked up along the way in hopes of helping you stay on track in achieving your goals and objectives.
Writing this, I’m currently parked in my new favorite spot in New York City: the food hall of the Plaza Hotel. I’m sat over avocado toast with fresh-pressed beat juice and a vegan cupcake. What more could I possibly want?
Naturally, being sat in such an optimal setting plays a factor in things — but the truth? I’ve been battling feelings of burnout lately and I thought we could all have a good chat about it. I’ve been juggling a number of priorities with a more 24/7 schedule these days and it’s been a bit chaotic. At times I’ve found myself on the brink of burnout — but also know that burnout isn’t an option.
To stay on track, I’ve been strategizing how I approach everything. It’s been a journey and I was reflecting on it all this morning while enjoying the most beautiful stroll through Central Park. The good news is I’ve found some real effective ways to be as productive as possible without burning out and I’m excited to share them with you!
How to Avoid Burnout
I’m not in a position where I can tune out the real world, disconnect from everyone and totally check out from my responsibilities. And I’m pretty certain you’re not in that boat either.
No. Instead, we’re all adults with demanding workloads and pressing responsibilities. Running for the hills and escaping reality simply isn’t an option – despite how appealing it sounds. (And it does sound appealing, right?)
Truth is: adulting is tough and this time of year only makes it tougher.
Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, daylight savings time has already shortened our days and we’re in the final crunch time of the year while simultaneously heading into the chaotic holiday season. 2020 is FAST approaching and on top of that? There’s also just 1.5 months left in the decade! That’s a situation that’s both exciting but also terrifying, don’t you think?
Today’s post is all about pumping the brakes a little bit and finding focus! We’re in the home stretch of 2019 and this decade, so I’m going to arm you with my tips and tricks to avoid crash and burning. (Because that’s NOT an option.)
My hope is that by sharing with you tips on how I avoid burnout in my life, you’ll be able to find ways to help yourself recharge and do the same!
Tip 1: Remember and Do Something That Brings You Joy
My first tip on how to avoid burnout? Think of something that has made you happy — and do that! But be realistic. This doesn’t mean an impromptu vacation, this means finding something small that brings you joy and acting on it.
Dance to your favorite song. Prepare your favorite recipe. Laugh with your favorite friend. Call a loved one. Watch an episode of your favorite TV show. The options are limitless! The objective? To reignite your spark of joy as a means of reigniting your energy. Fill your cup up a little, you deserve it!
Tip 2: Make a List and Assess
We’ve all been there before. On the brink of burning out while spinning a dozen plates and fighting to accomplish everything at once. When this happens? Do not panic. Instead? List everything you have going on and start assessing your progress.
Really look at your list and highlight any and all progress you’ve made – both big and small. You’ll start to see that while you might feel like things are spinning out of control, you are making progress. Recognizing that will help ease any anxiety you feel as well as give you a little direction on how to better prioritize what to tackle next.
Tip 3: Learn the Word No and Don’t Feel Guilty
It might be nice to do X, meet with Y or attend Z. BUT, when you’re already under pressure trying to accomplish and juggle several projects at once? Priorities matter and there’s just not room to add a bunch of extra non-essentials.
Pay close attention to your internal dialogue and feelings. When you’ve got a lot going on and are running the risk of burnout, it’s important to recognize that and learn to say no. Then, let go of any needless guilt that goes along with declining an invite or saying you’re not able to help with a project right now but would be happy to revisit it at a later date when things aren’t as hectic.
Part of knowing how to avoid burnout is factoring in your own well-being. Listen to yourself. If you realistically don’t have the time to give at the moment, say no. Prioritizing yourself is something you should never have to feel guilty about.
Tip 4: Refocus with a Mindful Activity
Yoga, meditation — yadda, yadda. I know we’ve been down this road before! It’s such an obvious tip on how to avoid burnout – but the reason mindful activities get so much attention is because they WORK! A 10 minute meditation session or 1 yoga class can truly go the long run to help you refocus, relax and recharge. This is something that continues to surprise me again and again!
A new mindful activity I’ve been getting in the habit of lately is journaling about projects I’m working on. Not every day, but at least once a week. Taking a few minutes to jot down what’s going on, what progress I’ve made and how I’m doing. I also continue to love the 10-minute guided meditations on the Calm app. Or, even just deep breathing in silence while stretching helps. Do what works for you!
Tip 5: Focus on One Thing for One Hour
In today’s hectic world, we’re a population of multi-taskers! We all wear a number of hats, have a lot on our plate and pride ourselves on our abilities to do more than one thing at a time. But when you’re starting to reach your breaking point, multi-tasking can also somewhat send you over the edge.
When that happens, hit pause and choose ONE thing to focus your attention on for one hour (or even less). You’ll be amazed how much progress you’ll be able to make when directing your focus on accomplishing one task at a time!
Tip 6: Schedule Out Your Day (Even the Small Stuff)
My next tip on how to avoid burnout kind of goes along with Step 5, but takes it further. This tip in particular is also something I adopted back in college. I got in the habit of preparing a detailed schedule for my full day. I started doing this as a bit of a game to make mundane homework tasks seem a bit more exciting, but it ended up being so effective I continue to do so in my adult life.
No, I admittedly don’t get this specific all of the time — but when things are particularly hectic, a detailed schedule helps me focus. It’s also fun to check things off as you make your way through the list. It’ll make you feel like the productive legend that you are!
Below is a very broad example for you. Everyone and every day’s lists will be different depending on what you have going on, but it’ll will hopefully give you a general idea of what I mean:
- 8:00 – 8:30 am: Breakfast and get dressed
- 8:30 – 9:00 am: Commute while listening to a motivating podcast
- 9:00 – 9:15 am: Read emails and respond to any that need immediate attention, flag rest for later
- 9:15 – 9:20 am: Review and edit task list for day
- 9:20 – 9:30 am: Prep and print materials for meeting on upcoming project
- 9:30 – 10:30 am: Work on Project A
- 10:30 – 10:40 am: Break – walk around, drink water, refill coffee, etc.
- 10:40 – 10:50 am: Call vendors for necessary updates
- 10:50 – 11:00 am: Check in on email and send any necessary follow-up from phone calls, etc.
- 11:00 am – Noon: Meeting (And so on…)
* Note how I include time allotted for small tasks such as making phone calls and printing as well as unavoidable time spent for commuting.
Tip 7: Strategically Schedule Meetings and Appointments
Last but not least, I wanted to talk about the scheduling of meetings and appointments. This seemed odd to include on a list of how to avoid burnout to me at first, but after some thought I realized how much the timing of meetings can factor into productivity levels!
Some people prefer to schedule full days of meetings and reserve other workdays for desk time, but a full day of meetings drives me nuts and could very well drive you nuts too.
I’m action based and meetings can feel like time suckers when I have a lot going on. A full day of them will leave me feeling stressed over how much work I feel I’m not getting done because my time’s occupied with meetings. On the flip side, I understand meetings can serve a very valuable purpose and can be quite crucial. With all that in mind, I prefer to break them up across my full calendar for the week.
Keep in mind, there are a lot of variables at play surrounding the specific scheduling of work meetings based on the attendees’ availability. Appointments are tricky because you might even just be given a choice of time/date. Add to that factors like location and travel time, and it can all get a bit messy at times. Flexibility is important.
The overall goal? Be as strategic as possible when scheduling meetings/appointments to help YOU most efficiently manage your responsibilities.
Well, I sincerely hope my musings on how to avoid burnout are helpful to you in some way! Things can get a bit much in our busy adult lives, so if I can help give you “food for thought” in anyway or offer a suggestion that helps you, I’m glad to be here.
Another post that might be helpful to you? Earlier in the year I shared How to Best Manage Multiple Projects at the same time. That post weighs in on compartmentalizing your time, my approach to project planning, the importance of allies and more if you’re interested.
Thank you oh so much for reading! I appreciate you being here. Be sure to share this post with anyone you think it could help and let me know if you have any other tips for avoiding burnout. I’m always looking for more suggestions!!
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