Burnout can be physical or mental. You can be hit with a sudden physical illness that wipes you out, like I was, or you can slowly be eaten away by stress and overwork that can cause havoc with your mental health.
One thing is for sure though, burnout can leave you floored.
So what can you do to turn the tide in the short term? Without any grand gestures or big life changes, what can you do, today, to protect yourself?
One small thing that senior executives can do is start by saying no. So many of us are inherent ‘yes’ men or women. So how do we change that ambition to please and impress and tactfully turn things down that are not serving your true needs. Our work lives, our social lives, our family lives all demand demand demand.
So try it today, say no to one thing. Say no to another.
Write a list of every single thing you have on your plate. Including in your personal and social life. Include the ten million dollar project you are responsible for delivering. On your family page, include taking your kid to football on Saturday. Include your dry cleaning. All of the things that make us busy fools.
Write down every single thing. A page for each.
Now create four pages. A delete. A delegate. A Park. A Do Now.
Work projects - what can you delete? If they don’t get done it really really does not matter. What can you delegate? Who on your staff could you take a bit of time out for to show them what to do and let them at it? Not being able to delegate well is a killer. Learn the skill and you will be so much more in control. What can you park? What is not urgent today but is causing you stress wondering about it? Move it to the park page.
And what absolutely has to has to be done now? Odds are you have a few things that you have been able to move away. Your do now page is the only page that matters today, now. Everything else is just fluff so don’t let it use up valuable space in your head.
Next up do your social life and family life. Do the same exercise. If a few quid for someone else in a part time role makes your life easier, do it. Pay them. Move business out of your life.
Do this exercise weekly. You will be come inexplicably good at prioritising your life and work.
What else can you say no to? That work project that someone is trying to suck you in on that you know is not the right fit for you? Say no and propose an alternative solution.
All these little things add up. To take the time today to protect yourself.