It’s the feeling that you can’t think anymore. Or move, or breath, or have fun. It’s dreading getting up in the morning and waiting for Friday when you can not move or think or do anything for two days. Only to have it go by in the blink of an eye and once again dread Monday morning. This is burnout. When your body and mind can no longer process your day-to-day because it has been overworked–And it’s become an all too common occurrence for pretty much everyone in our society.
The expectation to always be on, always consuming, and always doing has led our society into burnout which isn’t good for anyone. Instead of going with the cultural flow, it’s time to build some boundaries in your life and make space for rest and creation so that you can approach your work with new energy and new ideas.
Making Space For Rest + Creativity
Almost every single business owner I talk to is overworked and overwhelmed. From running all the things by themselves to managing teams or falling knee-deep in tasks that make them look busy, but aren’t actually creating productivity. Instead of living by your to-do list, it’s time to make some space in your life for anything but work. To do this start by looking at your calendar. I can tell you what your priorities are by seeing how you spend your time. So map out every minute of your day for a week.
How much time do you spend on email, social, and in meetings? How are you spending your time in the morning? What kinds of routines do you have? What kind of self-care practices do you have? Get it all down on a sheet of paper so you can see how you’re spending your time, and then start crossing things off. If you know that you only have 7 hours a day to get work down (an hour break for lunch!) then what can you put in those hours that will get you closer to your end goals? You don’t get any more time than those 7-hours so make them count.
Boundaries are a Self-Care Love Language
Now that you know how you spend your time and what things could probably get kicked out of your life it’s time to create some boundaries. Here are a few of the boundaries I’ve created to take care of myself
- No Meetings on Fridays
- I only check my email from 9am-4pm Monday-Friday. (My signature even says I don’t check email on weekends)
- I’ve deleted the email app from my phone.
- There’s a time limit on Social media on my phone so that I’m not just scrolling
- I live by my calendar
- All my to-do’s in Asana but prioritize my top 3 goals for the day. Those are non-negotiables, the rest can be finished tomorrow
- One bath per week
- I commit to seeing 1 friend per week for coffee, dinner, or a walk
- Yoga classes 2x a week whenever it feels right. Usually an in-person class at the beginning of the week and an online class towards the end.
- Less TV (that’s my addiction)
Boundaries can be anything you want them to be. What works for me, might not work for you, and that’s great! Decide where you need to create boundaries in your life so that you can care for yourself. What technologies or distractions are keeping you from achieving your goals? What’s keeping you from spending more time with your family? Most importantly, what is your excuse for not taking care of yourself? That thing needs to go first.
Write down your boundaries and put them by your desk, then craft your schedule to fit with these boundaries. You might just start with 1 or 2, but you need to make them clear for yourself (meaning specific) and you have to live by them.
In my blog post Why You Need Personal Projects, I go into depth about the importance of a personal project and how to find yours. But let me give you the condensed version here–Personal projects allow us to step out of our usual way of thinking, or the pressure of our day-to-day lives and create something that no one else will judge and is simply for us. This could be cooking, gardening, painting, reading, playing music, building furniture, or simply working out and meditating. This is something that you carve out time for and are working on getting better at. It’s also something that doesn’t have the pressure of providing for your family or being more than a project that you look forward to doing.
By making time for personal projects you give your mind a break from its usual tasks and allow it to go somewhere new. This often leads to breakthroughs in your personal life because your brain was given a chance to look at a problem from a new angle. But more importantly, these projects provide joy for you and allow you to find rest in a different kind of way.
The Anti-Hustle Movement
I am all for chasing your dreams and living your best life. I believe that we were all put on this earth to do something incredible and to add value to the communities around us, but not at the expense of ourselves. Your health, your spiritual life, are all more important than your to-do list. Just like on the airplane when the flight attendant tells you to put your mask on before helping others, even children, you need to take care of your life support day-to-day. Rest, creativity, and a break from work are all ways of doing this.
Our culture has taught us that we always need to be on, that we need to answer emails at all times of the day, but I can almost guarantee that everyone will be okay if you go take an hour yoga class, or better yet, turn your phone off for the weekend [Gasp!] Work will always be there. There will always be more to do. Your line of success, of “making it”, will always move, that’s the gift and the curse of how our minds work. Success is a moving line so there will always be more work to do. Your health, community, sanity, will not always be there. Let go of this idea of the hustle and take it back to basics, the ways our grandparents used to do it. Get 8-hours of sleep, enjoy dinner together, make time for you-time. When it comes to the end of your life, you’ll look back and be glad you slowed down, built boundaries, and focused on the things that mattered most–Health, community, creativity, spirituality.