Living with & Combatting Burnout!
I am the new age entrepreneur that everyone is so keen on knowing about. Starting up and getting behind an idea that drives you doesn’t take much, it is, of course, your idea. What does count, however, is when you convince other people to get behind your idea and support it, it could be clients that you convince to buy your product or investors that you convince to put money where your mouth is or even just colleagues that you hire to believe in your idea as much as you do, to invest time and energy to make it work. Doesn’t seem like much when you read it, but this is all there is to get a business rolling, initially.
With all the information about everything around you, it is getting impossible to let it all consume you. Burnout isn’t just working to a point that you can work no more. Burnout to me lately feels a little subtle but definitely something that gets my attention at the end of the week, month, quarter. Our world is becoming information-centric more and more so every passing day. It isn’t that there is information floating around and that is all there is to it. No, the key here lies in the fact that, this very information that is floating around is presented in a manner that makes you think that is an absolute must for you to consume and learn.
How you consume all that information and knowledge lingers as a mystery. The secret to knowing what you know and practicing it, while maintaining your sanity and living the life you have dreamed of, is: to simply not. Don’t consume all the information there is present out there because you possibly can’t, not without risking your health.
Here are a few pointers I stick to when dealing with burnout, things that help me keep myself in check when getting angsty about needing to know more and being more.
1.Take a deep breath and focus: Easy right? Not by a long shot. This, focusing on the task at hand and doing just and only that is by far the hardest thing I’ve had to do. See juggling ideas and thinking of a million things is a lot, but is still do-able because it is like fodder for your brain. The opposite, however, is something a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with. The focusing on just one aspect and avoiding the rest is difficult and harder to get a grasp on. For starters, there are social media and it’s engagement tactics to derail your focus. If you somehow manage to dodge that successfully, competition and the whole gamut of ifs and buts’ and what you could do to out-do your competition trickles in. If there is one advice I would give you to just try and hone your focus is to practice meditation. I know you must have heard it before, it isn’t something new I’ve invented, but it works. Sincerely and genuinely try it.
2. Think it through and prioritize: It is a step in the right direction. To kickstart a 100-foot journey, you need to decide which direction to step foot in first. Our days are packed with a long list of to-do’s and an even longer list of ‘I-wish-I-could’ve’s to bring either or both a notch down and actually get things done we need to prioritize what do you want more? Once you make it clear that this is what you want to get done at this very moment the process to get it done begins. Just saying out loud and mentioning it as something you aim to accomplish can get the ball rolling. Setting your priorities is a one-man job, and no one can do it but you. Once you’ve done so, getting everyone around on board is what stands between you fulfilling your priority. This will help in cutting down distractions and other people asking for your time, thus taking off the added stress and pressure off you to go ahead and put in the work and do what you had thought of.
3. Schedule and stick to it: You now know what needs to be done and what sits atop your agenda for the day. The next step then is to chalk out a when to the what do you want to get done. Get distractions and clutter out of the way and then pen in your priority so that you can give it ample time and attention. For example, you could start your day by clearing out your inbox and attending or making calls that you need to, after that once you know you won’t have urgent matters at hand you can take on the thing you prioritized to do. You could also choose to theme your days. When theming your days, you can set aside an entire day to work on a specific project or task that you need to be doing. For example, you could schedule a family day and spend an entire day with family. Or say you have been delaying writing an article or a script for a podcast, take an entire day do just that. What this does is, it puts you in a frame of mind and you don’t chaotically shuttle from one task to the other but collectively get one important task done without being distracted.
4. Holistic living and wellness: It is what it is, and it will get you where you want. The balance of body and mind can only occur in a healthy mind and body. The only way to achieve your goals is to be in a physical and mental state to do so. Starting to your day with some exercise and a breakfast that makes you feel good and full of energy isn’t something that you should be skimping on if you aim to take on the world. You project what you get. So if you are feeling low on energy on the inside there won’t be motivation pep talks on the outside either. Give your body and mind the best and it will reflect on the outside as well.
5. Learn to say ‘No’: Being a yes-man might bring you opportunities by the bucket-load, but learning to say no will bring you peace of mind. It might feel initially like you are losing out on opportunities and you might spiral into a feeling of self-doubt and self-blame. But doing so isn’t the answer to what you set out to achieve in the first place. The act of saying no should empower you to transform the day into what you want it to be. Create a schedule of your own instead of living in someone else’s. You need to be mindful of the fact that whenever you say no to something to are saying yes to something too. E.g When you say no to a business meeting, you are saying yes to your daughter’s dance recital. So, to accept an opportunity, you have to get rid of something, be aware and mindful of what that something is. If you learn to master this, a lot of your time will be accounted for all the right reasons and not leave a trail of what if’s in its wake.
Besides all these pointers make it a point to turn off every day and take in time to reflect what your day has been about. Set triggers that help you transition into downtime. It could be anything from a walk, to a swim, to spending time at the play gym with your kids or just gardening. Why you need these triggers is the problem with being your own boss is, that no one tells you to take time off and there is no off switch. Taking time to switch off from work each day will make easier for you to focus on your goals and understand that your priority is in place and you’ve got the rest taken care of. The aim, in the end, is to cut out distractions, and the best way to do that is to give those distractions a time of their own. This will help sort those distractions so that they don’t disrupt your productivity. So, get started and list down what you want to start with. It is a new day to conquer the world and only a calm mind can help you with it.
Shashank is a Management Consultant and has been helping out Startups, Businesses and Professionals all around the year to help them grow to their full potential