Something I’ve been told recently by my loved ones is that I “do too much”.
I definitely know what they're talking about. In all honestly, at one point earlier this year, I had so much on my plate that I burnt myself out completely. It’s really taught me a thing or two.
I’ve learned enough from that experience to realise I need to make some changes. That feeling of burnout doesn’t just last for one day – it can hit you years down the road. And I didn't want burnout to be a regular thing for me.
So since I’ve suffered from this recently, I wanted to share some thoughts with you today on how I’m getting rid of the fear or burnout for good, and how you can too.
The main thing I’ve realised when it comes to burnout is that it’s directly related to passion and determination.
And I don’t know about you but without those two things, I definitely wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't have grasped some of the opportunities that have come my way and I wouldn't be who I am right now.
I love those characteristics, because they've taken me so far.
But if I’m being honest, being passionate and determined can have negative effects too, which for me, come in the form our burnout. We want to say yes to everything, we want to do as much as possible and to the best of our ability. We don’t want to leave time for ourselves – we want to throw all our energy into becoming our version of success.
This isn't something we actively do. We don’t purposefully choose to leave ourselves with little time. It’s just because we want it so much, whatever it is. There’s never enough time, our to-do list is never finished and every task feels just as important as the other. It’s like there’s no way round it.
Then because of this, we end up putting so much pressure on ourselves that we don’t allow ourselves a break. And we can’t see when we’re in the moment that we’re doing this to ourselves. We might think we’re doing things to benefit our future. But it’s actually quite the opposite.
I think that burning out is actually a sign that we’re doing too much and we need to slow down. Our body is telling us to take a break and make some lifestyle changes.
It’s nothing new that exhaustion is one of the main things that prevents people from going into work. But if we work ourselves too hard, we might find ourselves unable to actually do the work.
I don’t ever want to be in that place – do you?
So here are some of the ways I’m battling burnout and actually making myself stronger in the process.
#1 | Schedule in time for yourself
You know on Monday how we talked about saving more time by actively scheduling things to do? You need to do this with time for yourself too.
What are the things you love to do? What can you do for hours that makes you truly happy? What makes you smile and light up? Whether it’s reading a book in the bath or going for a country walk, your hobbies and passion projects should be put on the same priority level as your work and the things you feel you “should” be doing. Make these a part of your life. Every single day you want to be able to say you’ve done something for yourself, because this is honestly one of the key things to helping you avoid burnout.
But this also applies to scheduling your days too. Set aside a specific amount of time to get tasks done and don’t go past that point – even if you don’t finish what you started. Find a method that works for you, whether it’s admin in the morning and creative projects in the afternoon or the other way around.
Carving out time to complete certain tasks keeps you on track and stops you from being distracted, which can also lead to burnout – that’s the frustration that you’re not getting things done. Then, when you’ve got some “me-time” scheduled later on, you know you’ll be ending the day in the right way.
#2 | Switch off at a certain time
If you’re online and your brain is working all the time, it’ll hit you in a hard way. But I also understand that this is difficult to do.
For me, my day job cut off point is 4:30. But when I get home, I could easily work on my blog for the rest of the night. I know this isn't healthy. I know I need a cut-off point so I can do something for me and spend time with my family. So depending on what’s going on, we usually set 9pm as the time the switch off and put all our technology away.
It’s so easy to just mindlessly check Instagram or Facebook, but if you unplug at the same time every day, it’ll do you the world of good.
#3 | Limit work on the weekend
This is probably harder than switching off in an evening. I used to be awful at this, spending my entire weekend working, because I thought this was the only time I’d have to get things done. But now I’m being more intentional with my time, I’ve realised I don’t have to dedicate my entire weekend to work.
If you’re a part of my Blogging Breakthrough community, you’ll have seen on Monday that we talked about how you don’t have to live a Sunday like you’re supposed. It doesn’t have to be a day of catching up with work and doing general house tasks. Why not change it up? Last weekend, Tom and I went out for the whole morning on Sunday and it was the best way I’d spent a Sunday in ages.
#4 | Do what gives you energy, not what drains you
If you’re passionate and determined, it’s key to find this out. You need to become aware of the differences in your energy levels. Figure out what lifts you up and what makes you feel pumped, so you can do more of it, rather than things that make you feel less motivated. If you know what fills you with energy you can just focus on these things and fill your life with goodness.
#5 | Remember that nothing will run right unless you do
This is something I always used to say to my mum when she was caring for my Grandma. Self-care is so important and really puts things into perspective. If my mum got too ill to look after my Grandma, she would have been sad at missing opportunities to be with her. Instead, she made some mind and lifestyle changes and they made such a difference to her health and happiness.
If you don’t look after yourself first, then you won’t be able to do what you set out to do. Last month, I had two speaking gigs, and a few days before one, I got the biggest ulcer which was hurting the whole side of my face. It was painful to talk, and at one point, I thought I’d have to cancel. That really opened up my eyes and made me aware of how much I need to not only look after myself, but enjoy myself too. You need to put yourself first sometimes – and that’s not selfish either.
#6 | Take a break if you need one
I don’t like telling people what to do, but I’m going to do it here – you’ve got to take a break when you need it. And by a break I don’t mean a few hours. I mean a whole day. Go shopping, visit somewhere new, go out for lunch, take a walk, watch your favourite TV show all day – if you don’t feel like working, then don’t. Some nights when I work late, I come home and all I want to do is relax with a magazine. When I feel like that I know I won’t do my best work so I let myself relax.
You don’t need to put all your energy into every project. You might wonder why, but actually, it’s simple – you need to save some energy for yourself and your family. I don’t want to waste an evening with Tom because I’m too tired from over-working. And saving energy won’t make you less good at your job either. You’re just showing that you value your time and how you spend it – and that’s a very fulfilling way to live.
Have you suffered from burnout? How do you deal with making sure it doesn't happen to you?