What to Do When You’re on the Path to Burnout

It’s no secret that I’ve got a lot going on at the moment. At least to those closest to me.

I work full-time for a startup company (that’s enough right there), I am growing my blog, I am working on another online project (which you’ll find out about soon), and I write freelance. In the middle of all of that, I am trying to be the best sister, daughter, granddaughter, niece, girlfriend and friend to all of my friends and family. I am trying to maintain my health and fitness. I am keeping up with daily responsibilities. And I am trying to experience every opportunity that comes my way (speaking at workshops, press trips, etc). I know that many others might have a lot more going on (single mothers, for instance), but for me, at this point in my life, this is a lot.

And to say I have handled it well 24/7 would be a total lie. There have been instances where I randomly burst into tears because I feel overwhelmed. Or I become extremely unproductive because I’m too busy worrying about the future, or I have a constant sense of failure because I feel as though I can’t put my best effort and focus toward one thing.

This is when I know it’s time to do something. Everybody experiences their path to burnout in different ways – here are thirteen signs that you may be heading that way. I sure know when I am.

On top of all of this, I suffer from anxiety disorder. And since I refuse to take medicine for something that I know can be handled on my own, these are the tactics I practice to keep myself afloat, amidst all of the chaos.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU'RE ON THE PATH TO BURNOUT

Write it down.

There are a few ways I use this strategy. First, as soon as I am told to do something, or I agree to a commitment, or I have an idea, I write it down. Getting your thoughts out onto paper is a great way to feel relief – it’s out of your mind, and onto your planner. Now, you’ve just got to do, not think. Second, the act of crossing out items on your to-do list is oddly satisfying. I’m convinced that some sort of chemical is released in your brain that relaxes you. And third, write it down on a Friday. Something I do often is on Fridays I will begin to completely plan out the week to come. Jot down items you know you’ve got to get done next week. This way, you’ve got it already planned out, and you can enjoy your weekend (or get whatever work you need to do, done).

Prioritize.

It can be difficult to distinguish between priority levels when you’ve got so much going on. You want to get everything done perfectly and on time, so in your mind, everything you’ve got going on is of equal importance. It will be hard to convince yourself of this, but that’s not true. Your to-do list should be written in order of importance. Group your items so that you get the important and urgent tasks done first. This will help reduce stress about tasks that may actually be categorized as not urgent (yet you’ve convinced yourself needs to be done as soon as possible). Here is a table that I find helpful with organizing priorities:How to Prevent Burnout

 

If you’re confused on what to add to each quadrant, here are some classifications:

  • Important and urgent: 
    • Unscheduled/last-minute tasks
    • Deadline-driven projects
    • Emergencies
  • Important but not urgent:
    • Planning/goal-setting
    • Relaxation
    • Personal growth
  • Not important but urgent:
    • Emails
    • Some meetings
    • Phone calls
  • Not important and not urgent:
    • Busy work

Something else that may help is classifying tasks in your planner using letters or numbers. Using that chart above, label each quadrant with A, B, C, D – A being important and urgent, B being important but not urgent, C being not important but urgent, and D being not important and not urgent. Now, go through your to-do list(s) in your planner, and label each task accordingly.

*As a blogger who works a full-time job, and knowing many others who do the same, I must say that I always prioritize my day job work ahead of my blog. I never put blog work ahead of ‘day’ work. I will touch on that a bit soon.

What to Do When You're on the Path to Burnout

Take a step back.

I can find it hard to let myself relax at times because I feel like I am letting time slip away that I could have used to be productive. However, in actuality, allowing yourself time to relax is being productive. I always remember that work + rest = success. Just as your muscles need rest from exercise, your brain needs a break from your everyday hustle. I promise, once you step away, you will come back feeling even more ready to take on your tasks. Here are a few things I like to do when stepping away from work:

  • Hang out with friends
  • Take a shower
  • Cook a meal
  • Go for a run
  • FaceTime my boyfriend/grandmother/family
  • Get my nails done
  • Go shopping
  • Read a book

What to Do When You're on the Path to Burnout

Use two different planners. 

For the longest time I was using my planner for both my day job and my blog/freelance work planning. I found that when I would open my planner, I would become frazzled looking at all of the to-dos, which is completely counterproductive. I recently purchased another planner, and use the two planners separately. I immediately felt relief. I can separate the two worlds and have more focus when planning and writing out my to-dos. I highly recommend this tactic – your brain will feel a healthy separation between the two.

What to Do When You're on the Path to Burnout

Think about your ‘why’.

Amidst the craziness of all of the awesome work you’re doing, I wouldn’t be writing this post if we all didn’t understand that stress was inevitable. Sometimes, we forget why we are even doing what we do. I am guilty of this. Despite some of the awesome opportunities I have been presented through blogging, there are ups and downs, and during those downs, I often question myself. It’s normal, it’s natural. Once I remember why I started, I feel purposeful.

Thinking about your why can also cause you to evaluate what you’re doing. Is your job fulfilling you while you put so much work into it? Is each day pushing you into the direction you want your career to go? 

If you’re on the fence, do this: make a list of pros and cons of your current situation. This will allow you to weigh the good with the bad, and think about what you can do to eliminate the bad, if possible. Every job comes with stress, that I understand, but sometimes it is unnecessary and preventable. When I graduated from college, I took a job in an industry I had absolutely no desire to be in. The job sucked and ultimately lead to me feeling depressed and not wanting to wake up in the morning to go to work. I thought I had to just get through the rough phase to move up in the company, but then I began to question what I was doing.

“If I don’t want to be in this industry, why do I even care about moving up?” I pondered. That will just put me deeper into something I want nothing to do with. So, I did something about it. With zero backup plan, but I did it. This was very unlike me, but I guess that action speaks to how unhappy I was.

Takeaway:

If you are noticing signs of yourself heading toward a burnout, do something about it. Treat it. Analyze your feelings and think about why you’re feeling this way. Take care of yourself, because without a healthy mind, body and soul, your performance will suffer, and it will become an unhealthy cycle.

The Ultimate Guide to Breakfast On-The-Go

Comments

  1. says

    SO relevant to my life right now, especially being a full-time college student with 3 jobs. Thank you so much for sharing this!! I love the idea of the quadrants and the two separate planners. I often have everything in one planner and it makes me crazy! Also, my head never stops swirling with thoughts and things I have to do. I needed this today, thank you <3
    Marina @ A Dancer’s Live-It recently posted…Mythbuster Monday: Energy EditionMy Profile

  2. says

    This was me last semester. Luckily I had an “endpoint” when I knew things would die down, but I know in the future I will deal with this again. In some ways I am now, but not so much busyness but uncertainty with my path/future. Taking a step back and doing something different (for pure enjoyment) was and is always my go-to method. xo
    Emily @ My Healthyish Life recently posted…Beet Cauliflower RiceMy Profile

    • says

      I remember feeling that too in college. Like ‘x months til I graduate and this will all die down’. It is definitely different now that there is no defined endpoint, but now I have control over what I am doing, whereas in college you didn’t really have much of a choice.
      The Blissful Balance recently posted…Four Ways to Make BruschettaMy Profile

  3. says

    I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know how I do it or any of us! I think you must have heard me praying last night because I’ve been close to a breaking point this week! There is just SO much going on and I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out on the best years of my life. It’s such a catch 22 between working hard for what you want in life and living in the moment and enjoying life. This brought me a lot of encouragement because I feel like what it all boils down to is how you perceive things.
    Margaret @ youngandrungry recently posted…Run: Building your Weekly Training PlanMy Profile

    • says

      Oh girl I have been praying, too. and you hit the nail on the head – I often wonder about the fact that I’m only 24 and I’m already this stressed. But I think about the future I am trying to create and it keeps me going. I’m glad this post helped you in some way <33
      The Blissful Balance recently posted…Four Ways to Make BruschettaMy Profile

  4. says

    It’s like you’re talking directly to me, lol. I think most bloggers, who also have a full-time job can relate to all of this! I like the idea of two planners…I have one for both, and you’re right, it’s overwhelming!
    Nichole recently posted…Pepperoni Pizza BitesMy Profile

  5. says

    Preaching to the choir! I am currently struggling with trying to figure out whether I really can take my blog to the next level while also working a full-time job (which in my industry includes nights and weekends from home), keep up an important volunteer commitment with the Junior League, maintain my relationships with my boyfriend and good friends, and train for my first marathon which is this autumn. Add to that the hectic general pace of life in NYC and it’s all a jumble a lot of the time. Writing it down helps, but only so much when the list never ends!
    Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl recently posted…WIAW #43My Profile

    • says

      I say YOU CAN take it to the next level :) nothing worth having comes easy, I always tell myself that. It all depends how bad you want it. But if you feel like it’s getting to be too much, I suggest the pros and cons list, and process of elimination. Kudos to you for training for a marathon amongst the chaos!! I cannot imagine!

  6. says

    Lovely lovely post Christina!! I have my ups and downs for sure, and recently just admitted to myself about struggling with anxiety. It’s funny how reading articles and others’ struggles make you confront your own. I definitely have to planners and my coworkers kind of laugh at me. But I can’t mentally deal with everything in one, too much going on!!
    Great tips, love <3 Keep on keepin' on.
    Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen recently posted…Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad with cranberries, feta, & pecansMy Profile

    • says

      I actually went to a therapist because it was getting bad (completely sleepless nights and such). She wanted to prescribe me anxiety medication and I was like no thank you… these tactics have really helped me for sure. Two planners FTW!

  7. says

    Love love love this, Christina. I especially love the quadrant idea – that seems really helpful in sorting out priorities! Between being a full-time student, working two part-time jobs, and growing my blog, it’s very VERY easy for me to become overwhelmed and anxious. I really like writing everything that I absolutely need to do and getting it done right there, and trusting that everything else will get done in good time. Of course, I love getting out and doing something active to pump up my mood :)
    Emilie @ Emilie Eats recently posted…Barbecue Lentil Stuffed Sweet PotatoesMy Profile

  8. says

    Christinaaaaa this post came at the most perfect time for me, especially because it makes me feel better that i’m not alone in this insanely stressful work/life balance predicament. I definitely think two journals is a great idea (luckily my work gives me more than enough journals and binders to last me a lifetime).
    And yes writing things down helps sooo much. Usually i keep a note on my phone as well to remind me of important tasks i need to get done.
    Beverley Cheng recently posted…Valentines Day Overnight Oats with Raspberry Chia JamMy Profile

  9. says

    What a motivating way to start the day! Thanks for sharing this, Christina. It has taken me a long time to realize that sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself in order to move forward is to just relax and do something stress-relieving like reading a book.

    I also totally agree with prioritizing tasks. Instead of A-D, I have a color coding system within a calendar/task app on my phone. This is vital in making sure I work on the correct tasks.

    Thanks again for such a poignant blog!

      • says

        For years I used to use a paper-based calendar and was very happy with it, but came the day when I lost it! I nearly broke into tears from the frustration of losing the key to my life’s organization.

        I did extensive research into apps to prevent this from happening again. I found Pocket Informant (http://pocketinformant.com/). I have been using it for nearly three years now, and I absolutely love it. Everything is customizable; you can even color coordinate different categories of tasks/meetings to easily differentiate between say Peerfit and Blissful Balance tasks. They have awesome customer service, and everything is synced to the cloud, so if I lose my phone, none of my to-do’s are lost!

        I must make note that I in no way represent Pocket Informant and am not an affiliate of any kind. I truly just love what they do.

  10. says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this! You and I are so similar in this way…it’s crazy! I’m in the process of getting a new planner (mine just isn’t satisfying me currently) and I found a cheap one on sale for the social media posts I do for others! But I love the thought of keeping work & blog separate — keeping that in mind for the future!
    Caitlyn recently posted…Valentine’s Day ::: for us single girls!My Profile

  11. says

    SO many great tips. Like everyone else, I’m sure, I also feel overwhelmed and busy at the moment. I’m also juggling a job and blog, training for a marathon, planning a wedding, and house hunting. I’ll have to keep all of these things in mind for the next few months before I have a break down 😉 Thank goodness my Whole30 is over now so I can have a glass of wine occasionally to really relax!
    Gretchen | Gretchruns recently posted…International Egg Cups 4 WaysMy Profile

  12. says

    Love love love this post! Last year I tried working for a start up, managing my day job, writing my blog, and free lancing on the side – within two months I was in total burnout mode and some things just had to go. It’s tough to prioritize or remove certain aspects of your life, but I feel so much better after making those difficult decisions. I now have two planners for work and my blog and always make time to workout. I find that I’m happiest when I prioritize my health first. Thank you so much for sharing!
    Kellen recently posted…Swami’s CafeMy Profile

    • says

      lol working for a startup is no joke. It is not at all like working for an established company (I went from working for a multi-billion $ corporation to a 10-person startup). I have definitely had to let go of a couple things which is so hard for me but better in the long run. Thanks Kellen!! <3

  13. says

    I agree with this so much and these are such good things to remember. I love being busy for the most part, but relaxing/making time for myself is so, so, so important. While in college I was “go go go” 24/7 so being out of school for awhile, it’s nice having more down time to relax.

  14. says

    Are you my brunette twin? Kidding but not really… Christina, I can totally relate to so many points you touched on. These past few years have been some of the most stressful of my life and I finally feel like I’m coming out on the other side. But, when I was in it, my anxiety was through the roof (and helloooo control freak!), I could never enjoy what was happening in the moment and I became pretty negative because of this stress. I think you have laid out some great points to help cope with this stress and how to manage everything well. I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but if you ever need someone to lean on… I’m here for ya!! :-)
    Carly @ Fitliving blog recently posted…Reader Survey + FitLiving GiveawayMy Profile

    • says

      You just perfectly articulated exactly how I feel. I become negative too and it definitely can affect relationships! So I try really hard to implement these tips and take control of it proactively!! Thanks, Carly!! <3

  15. says

    Love this Christina and love that I get to work with you daily <3 So many great pieces of actionable advice here. Writing down is something that helps a ton for me. Sometimes I just write it over and over and for some reason that relaxes me. Sometimes when I get stressed, especially recently I say outloud "I love what I do," because it's true but sometimes I forget.
    Georgie recently posted…Simple Green Juice You Can Make Without a JuicerMy Profile

    • says

      Another thing that helps me is surrounding myself with people who calm my anxious heart… like you! Thanks for always listening to me and letting me know everything will work out just fine. What the heck would I do without you?? Those are some great tips, too. I forget sometimes, too, but the moments that I realize it’s true are the greatest moments that keep me going.

  16. says

    Thank you so much for writing this post. I love the quadrant ideas to help prioritize when everything seems urgent. I definitely want to try that out. The burnout is all too real. Last year I drove myself crazy working a full time job, a part time job, going to school and trying to blog all at once. While I don’t have as much on my plate now, I still never really recovered from that low point. Finding the “why” has always been really hard for me!
    Les @ The Balanced Berry recently posted…Superfood Quinoa Breakfast Bowls + Win a $50 shopping spree to iHerb!My Profile

    • says

      Thank YOU for reading! My goodness that sounds like a hell of a lot to have going on. I bet it’s hard to come back from so much! Proud of you nonetheless, you’re an inspiration for all of the hard work you put into your beautiful blog! <3

  17. says

    i’m all about planning! it definitely helps with stress. i have a full size planner for school, a small one for tracking my eats (i still carry that around, but havent used it in months! hah), and FINALLY found the perfect one for workouts. i keep notepads EVERYWHERE because i get frazzled and need to write down my thoughts, but if i just kept 1, i would lose it somewhere. haha

  18. says

    I love this!! I also work full time, blog, and try to be a good person all while battling anxiety! I haven’t really thought of separating it all into the importance quadrant so I’ll definitely have to try that out!

    Thank you so much for posting this, such a great way to start my Monday!

  19. says

    Reading this sounds like me talking to myself. I’m in a very similar boat – I’m trying to juggle growing my blog, a career change which I am studying for a certification for, moving to a new place, job hunting, bridesmaid duties for 2 weddings this fall, and taking an 8 week online blog course. Also maintaining my relationship and making time for friends and family. It’s all so crazy!! I am 3 years out of college and have decided I hate engineering so I’m with you on that part too…I’m doing something to change it. These are all incredibly useful tips. I might have to start using the priority rankings for my to-do list – I like that one especially.

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