We’re already a third of the way through 2021 and I’m still trying to catch my breath from 2020. How about y’all?
For many of us, this past year has really stretched our boundaries and our ability to adapt to constantly changing conditions. You could go to work, you couldn’t go to work, the kids were home, the kids were at school, whoops! the kids are home again.
Trying to maintain your comfortable routine in the face of such rapid and non-stop change is exhausting. If you’re feeling tired, welcome to the club.
But there’s a step beyond just tired that can threaten not only your business, but your personal well-being.
Before you crash and burn, let’s stop and assess the situation. Knowing where you stand allows you to put steps in place to keep yourself and your business ventures moving forward.
Busy and tired vs. Burnout
The first thing to ask yourself is whether your current reality is the best way to manage your life. Running from one activity to the next without time to think about anything in between makes it easy to forget this step.
We tend to just fall into the action of the moment and fail to assess what’s actually happening. Once we stop to think about it, that feeling of exhaustion could be simply justified. If you’ve simply been running non-stop for the past three days, the cure to the problem could be arranging for some alone time and taking a nap.
If you’ve been feeling this way for weeks or months, though, your justified exhaustion may be evolving into something more than just tired. It starts to become chronic. At that point, you run the risk of total burnout.
Some classic signs of burnout are:
- constant fatigue
- loss of appetite
You might feel sick more often. Some people develop strange physical symptoms with or without any apparent physical cause.
Once you’re at this stage, it’s hard to get back on track without some form of sabbatical leave.
However, not all of us can just leave everything behind while we meditate our way toward winning our mojo back.
Much better to combat the problem of burnout before it becomes a problem.
Burnout or Bust
Failure is no longer an option once you’re in a situation where either you collapse or your business does. Either way you go, something is going to fail. If you’re a solopreneur, it’s very possible both you and your business will get lost in the burn.
To make sure you don’t get to this point, it’s important to take stock of your situation regularly and implement some strategies to avoid the burnout.
And I know what you’re thinking. Who has time for regular assessments? Am I right?
One of my favorite coaches is Bill Baren, who offered some great advice about this topic. He recommends looking at everything you do in both your personal and professional life in terms of an energy exchange.
“When I go through my day … every activity … every thought … every action I engage in either depletes me or adds energy to my system.”
~ Bill Baren
For me, I feel energized when I write and when I can pull ideas together to create something interesting, but I feel depleted when I need to deal with accounting, analytics, or when I’m surrounded by clutter.
What’s great about this system is it allows you to make quick assessments of your day to decide what activities you should engage in to keep your energy up, and which things you should look to delegate to keep burnout at bay.
Putting it in Practice
As you go through your day, assess what you’re doing on a 10-point scale from -5 to +5. Things that get a negative 5 are those things that deplete you most (hello analytics!). Things that get that positive 5 are the things that fill you with energy (let me write all the words!).
As you get clearer on your ratings, it’ll be easier to understand which things should be eliminated, reduced, or delegated to avoid draining your energy and which things you should focus on more to fill you up.
This is how super-busy people stay busy all the time and never feel tired – they’re doing what rejuvenates them all the time rather than draining themselves with so many activities that deplete them.
Of course, if you’re solo, delegating or trading tasks to co-workers may be a bit more difficult. It is possible to hire shoppers, party planners, and even folks to handle your accounting. There may be some software options that will help you run your reports more efficiently. There are also virtual assistants available who can take on some of the overload.
You may feel you can’t afford such services, especially if you’re relatively new in your business, but I encourage you to think about what it’s costing you to NOT hire out those types of tasks.
Forcing yourself to do those things you dread generally ends up costing you twice as much time as it would take someone who loves that activity. Because you hate it, you are also possibly not doing the best job you can do. You end up frustrated, tired, irritated, and probably require extra time to get into the next activity on your list – even when it’s the thing you love.
On the other hand, having someone who loves those things take care of them means that task is off your list, you happily dive into the things you love to do, and you get twice as much work done in half the time.
Now that you know which activities energize you versus which ones deplete you, you can step out of the COVID winter with a much more effective plan to enjoy your freedom.
Use your rating scale to see where you need to make shifts in your business, hire some additional help, or, at the very least, distribute those activities that deplete you more equitably so they don’t bulk up on you and make you dread waking up in the morning.
Reorganizing your day to have a better balance of activities that energize you over those that deplete you means you gain more satisfactory days overall.
With all that extra energy you’re feeding yourself, you might even find you have more days to daydream and be more creative in your business structure.
Try this energy list technique and let me know how it worked for you. Did making your list open your eyes to anything important you were missing.