The dry eyes. The heavy limbs. The numb brain.
Burnout happens to the best of us (and the rest of us, too). But if you’re smart and you’re paying attention, you can avoid burnout and keep working this lifestyle business to the fullest.
So What’s Burnout?
Burnout happens when you’re overworked and you just plain hit a wall. Your body is tired. You can’t get your brain in gear. Your eyes might even hurt. And motivation? It’s gone.
You can get burned out in a job you don’t like — in fact, it’s pretty easy to do that. You can also burn out on work you love, especially if you love it so much that you never take a break. My theory is that burnout happens any time you’re stretched too thin, even if you’re doing great things.
If you do too much, of anything, for too long, you’ll burn out.
Don’t let that be you!
You don’t just wake up one day completely burned out. Instead, it’s a process that creeps up on you when you aren’t paying attention. Spot the emotional warning signs of burnout, and you’ll be able to stop it in its tracks. Here’s what to look for:
- Feeling listless
- Having trouble concentrating
- Hitting a wall
- Completely lacking motivation
- Dreading even minor things
- Getting irritated more quickly than usual
One of the worst parts about burnout is that it makes you go completely numb to the things that usually light you on fire. If you ever find yourself in that place for more than a day or two, you’re probably dealing with burnout.
How To Undo Burnout
The first step to getting through burnout is to go into survival mode. Burnout comes from overcommitment, so un-commit from everything you possibly can. Skip the meetings, delay the shopping, put off the decisions, outsource the cleaning, you get the idea. If there’s anything you can possibly cancel, delay, or offload, do it.
The next step in getting through burnout is to do what I like to call “deliberate self-care.” Take some time to do the things you find restorative. Schedule a haircut if that’s what you like. Pick up some new office supplies if that would give you a kick. Try a new class or a hobby that you’ve been thinking about, or dive back into something you used to love. Schedule some time away, even if it’s just for a weekend… the sooner, the better. Do the things that build you up — and skip the things that drag you down, like too much sugar or alcohol.
First and foremost, however, focus on getting as much rest as you can. Build some off hours into your schedule, and don’t add any new commitments until you’re feeling back up to speed. Recovering from burnout requires time to repair yourself mentally and physically, so give yourself as much of that as possible.
Never Burn Out Again
The key to avoiding burnout is avoiding becoming overextended. Take control of your schedule and be ruthless about what tries to get on your calendar. Get realistic about how long it takes you to do things, and be more selective about what you take on in the first place. Turn down opportunities that aren’t right for you or don’t move you toward your goal. (Remember: be ruthless!)
Same goes for your non-work schedule, too. Build in time off and make it non-negotiable. Step back from your social obligations regularly, including social media. The better you take care of yourself, the more successful you’ll be at avoiding burnout in the future (and the more resilient you’ll be when the pressure is on).
Here’s the thing to remember: 99 times out of 100, you are not indispensable. The rest of the world will keep moving even if you aren’t there to participate, oversee, or otherwise get involved. Be cautious when you consider giving away your time or energy — you only have so much of it.