Mental and physical burnout happens when you’re trying to do too much in very little time.
Once the feeling of being overworked sets in, it can lead to severe personal and professional setbacks.
Feeling stressed and tired for a long time will increase the chances that you make mistakes as you struggle to cope with too many things demanding your attention.
What do you do in such a situation?
It’s self-evident that you need to pause and reorganize your life. And in this post, you’ll learn some practical ways to do so and stop the feeling of burning out from taking over.
Sort your to-dos
We tend to feel burnout when we are continuously working and see no end in sight. The feeling of stress comes from having little clarity and being occupied with the idea that there is so much to do.
The first thing you can start with is listing out everything that needs to be done. This includes everything from throwing away expired food in your fridge to negotiating a multi-million dollar contract.
Just get everything down on paper or on an electronic tool. It’s critical that you don’t leave out anything, no matter how trivial it is or even if it’s a large project that will take years to complete.
And it’s important to write everything down so that you can see them and refer to them from time to time. What you don’t want is for these tasks to float about in your mind, drawing your attention over and over again.
Next, start organizing your tasks into things that can be done right away, a little later, or far into the future. When you have everything down in a physical or digital format, it’s then off your mind. And based on the time frames in which you need to do something, you can bring each task to your attention.
Get rid of all small tasks
David Allen who created the Getting Things Done system talks about how productivity is not about time management – it’s about attention management.
And one of the first tips he recommends is to sit down and finish all activities that can be done in under two minutes. This can be to: send an email, call your mom, book a reservation at a restaurant, contribute money towards a coworker’s birthday, and other tasks.
Finishing up the smallest and most trivial tasks right away has a near-magical effect. It immediately creates a sense of ease because you’ve removed ‘stuff’ that’s occupying your mental space.
Part of the reason people feel burnout is because there’s too much going on in their minds. Removing small ‘stuff’ enhances your mental clarity fast.
Delegate, Delay or Drop tasks that aren’t a priority
As part of managing your work, look for tasks that you don’t have to perform right now. And then sort these tasks so that you can:
- Delegate tasks you don’t have to do yourself
- Delay tasks you have to do on your own but can easily do it in the future by putting it in a calendar
- And completely drop those tasks that are not important to you
Just organizing what you have in this way will ease things for you. You should find that a great deal of weight is lifted from your shoulder as you structure your day and your future activities.
Practice self care
As un-intuitive as it seems to pause in the middle of your work, it’s critical that you do so. Spending half an hour indulging in self-care activities will increase your energy levels so that when you do get back to work, you’ll get more done in less time.
Here are a few self-care activities you need to do, even for a few minutes, to prevent burnout from taking over:
- Find a quiet place and practice deep breathing meditation for at least 10 minutes
- Take a quick nap
- Do a social media detox over the weekend by avoiding all social media for at least 48 hours. Did you know that 27% of people wake up and head to social media right away? It’s no wonder that most people feel restless all day.
- Indulge in a long bathing regimen and include things like scented candles, epsom salts, and aromatherapy products if possible
- Spend at least one hour doing absolutely nothing.
Self-care activities can appear unnecessary especially when you have a lot to do. But they actually lead to more productivity than if you forced yourself to work under pressure.
When you feel the onset of burnout, it’s important to keep it from becoming overwhelming. Remember that it is okay for you to take time to feel better before going back to work. When you are tired, stressed out and overwhelmed, you won’t do your best.
Use these tips for preventing burnout and think of them as wearing your oxygen mask first. It’s only when you take care of yourself that you can be of use to others.