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.
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).
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:
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
- Important but not urgent:
- Personal growth
- Not important but urgent:
- 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.
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
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.
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.
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.