Burnout is more common than ever, with distractions from social media, e-mails and information overload. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy by being perfectionistic. Of course, not all stress is bad. Good stress helps generate an energy boost and increased focus. But toxic stress can lead to the black hole of burnout. You can overcome the tendencies that lead to burnout with behaviors that can help you become productive, sleep better and have deeper insights.
Know what your triggers are and what has worked in the past
Think back on a time when you successfully brought yourself back from the brink of the black hole – when you were slipping into toxic stress. See what happened as objectively as possible, and reflect using questions such as, “What happened before I felt negative stress?” Think back to a specific trigger or situation such as a last-minute request by your boss, or an unusual event such as getting sick and slipping behind. “When did I first notice that I felt better as I climbed out? Is there something that naturally worked to improve my routine? How might I make adjustments to make it more sustainable for me?”
If you take on too many commitments, start saying “no”
Overload can result from having too many ideas. If this is you, then connect just a few ideas to your top priorities and execute them. Then, put the rest in a folder labeled ‘back burner.’ If you suffer from information overload, then start blocking off some focused “me-time” in your schedule. You can use that time to meditate, take a nap, a walk, or just turn off the Wi-Fi for a while.
Stop multi-tasking (research shows that it doesn’t work)
We delude ourselves by thinking we can do more than one thing at a time, but our brains aren’t wired for it. Multitasking causes mistakes. Instead, make smart adjustments to plan for better-focused thinking. Answer your e-mail at set times rather than all the time. Switch off your phone to get some undistracted moments to attend to your top priorities.
Go for satisfaction rather than perfection
Are you a perfectionist? If you try to maximize every task and squeeze every drop of productivity out of your creative work, you’re headed for exhaustion and procrastination. Instead, set boundaries for acceptable performance and stick to them.
Break projects into bite-sized pieces
Have you taken on a task in one entire lump and found yourself exhausted? Breaking up your plans into specific, doable chunks with their own deadlines provide a much healthier, and more comfortable way of completing a massive project.