Are you the type of person who’s forever adding things to your list? Are you constantly trying to be and do more, thinking that this is somehow a measure of your worth? Trust me, I get it. I’ve always been this type of person, always trying to find ways to be more productive, more in-tune with my desires and goals, and more driven than the person next to me. And while I think it’s great to be someone who’s motivated and constantly pushing forward, you have to avoid burnout, too.
If you’re forever pushing yourself, you’ll never know when to rest. And rest is a core component of truly being successful (and most importantly, happy).
Whether you’re struggling with your current load, or just in need of balance, here are five small ways you can avoid feeling overwhelmed (without sacrificing your productivity).
1. Shorten Your Lists
While this may sound counterintuitive at first glance, part of the problem with having never-ending to-do lists is exactly that—you’ll never actually finish them if they’re that long. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not advocating for abandoning your goals or daily/weekly plans. What I am pushing for, though, is to focus on the small, manageable parts of the whole.
In a given hour, day, or week, what is really feasible to accomplish? How can you hone in on the short list that’s not only necessary, but possible? When you focus your attention on those things rather than the overarching goal, you’ll feel more productive, more confident, and more aligned.
2. Take Time To Think Before Saying ‘Yes’
If you’re a ‘yes person’ (someone who has trouble saying ‘no,’ or someone others can always count on for that ‘yes’) this is so very important. Understand that you don’t necessarily have to change who you are; you just have to be smarter about what you decide to commit to.
Before jumping into a new opportunity, project, job, relationship, etc. take time to think.
Reflection is a powerful (and healthy) tool in our toolbox to assess our emotions, understand our situations, and make educated decisions. Before you commit to something, empower yourself to take time to consider all of the possible outcomes—good and bad. Don’t be ashamed of doing this, either. In the end, it will help you sift through what you desire and what perhaps doesn’t make sense in your life right now.
3. Know Your Bottom Line
There’s a rock bottom for each of us, but sometimes we’re so focused on avoiding that breakdown that we don’t see we’re actually headed in that direction. As you go about your days, adding more and more to your plate or getting through conflict, pay attention to how you’re physically and mentally feeling. It’s not embarrassing or weak to ask for help. In fact, if you’re a strong person, you will ask for help because you know your limits and your bottom line.
Being busy, productive, or driven — these are amazing traits! But you can’t truly embody these traits if you don’t know your limits, your resting places, or when you need to outsource to others.
4. Create More Mental Balance
Take a look at the time you spend in a given week. How much of that time is dedicated to right-brain activities: visualization, free-thinking, or creative activities? And how much is dedicated to the left-brain: logical thinking, math, or visual-spatial skills, for example? A strategy that can help to avoid burnout is to create pockets of time in your days where you are balancing your brain’s activities.
If you find that you’re doing physical labor much of the day, can this be balanced with a creative project? Or with reading, for example? If you’re pursuing a creative venture, can you off-set this with analytical thinking? When you’re able to tap into both sides of your brain each day, it can help to create stability and balance that will help you when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
5. Make Idle Time Activities
Hear me out on this one! If you’re someone who’s on the verge of burnout, chances are, you have a hard time cutting work cold turkey. In fact, you probably feel like you’re the best version of yourself when you’re running full-steam or doing a bunch of things on your list. Rather than feeling like you need to stop or rest (which may be hard!) instead, focus on creating activities for your idle time.
If you have time with family, instead of defaulting to work, create a fun event for your family to do (even if it’s something like a lazy movie and pajama night). If you have free time before bed, rather than feeling obligated to check through your email, tell yourself that you’re going to journal or color. Even though you’re still filling your time (which may not be total ‘rest’ as it’s intended to be), you’re offering an in-between where you can feel productive while still taking a break. This is a great way to avoid burnout, especially if you’re a go-go-go type of person.
Other Ways To Avoid Burnout:
Over the years, I’ve had many amazing conversations with entrepreneurs, creatives, business owners, and thought leaders about burnout and how to keep yourself on track. Business ownership — heck, anything creative or business-related — can be overwhelming. But finding ways to overcome the stress, carve your own path, and keep your head above water are the difference between those who survive and those who don’t.
Do you have other ideas or tricks to keep yourself afloat? Share with me!
Featured Image Credit: Israel Palacio