5 STEPS TO AVOID BURNING OUT
When we are juggling what feels like thousands of commitments, one minute we can feel on top of the world and then what can feel like instantly, we can’t get out of bed, we have no motivation and feel utterly helpless.
Over the years I have burned myself out more times then I should. I thrive on being busy but if I don’t be careful, I am prone to burning out and making myself both physically and mentally unwell.
Burning out is a gradual process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can creep up on you.
Whilst working full time in the corporate world, managing my own businesses, blogging, studying, having a social life, a fitness regime, spending time with my family and of course practising self-care, I’ve learnt a thing or two about how to avoid burning out.
Try following these steps to avoid burning out while you are working, studying and trying to juggle everything else all at once.
1. SET BOUNDARIES
Boundaries are essential to maintaining a balanced life. Knowing and understanding your own limits is vital, and unfortunately only comes with practice.
We all work differently, are productive at different times and have completely different commitments outside of work and study.
Working out how to balance it all takes some trial and error. If getting up before the sun is when you’re most productive, try studying before you start work. If getting an hour of study in at lunchtime works best then start pencilling that into your schedule.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t manage everything perfectly all of the time. It’s a work in progress. I have been studying and working full time for 4 years now and I still have to constantly change up my routine because after a while I start to get unmotivated.
Not only is it important to physically keep healthy but you have to ensure your mind is healthy too. Filling your schedule up too much can cause mountains of pressure and stress. Trust me, I have been there and done that.
Let’s think about all the commitments in your life, what stresses you, what workload you can tolerate, and the quality of life you want to maintain.
Write everything down. It doesn’t need to be pretty, just get it all from your head on to some paper. We need this information for step 2.
It’s important to work out what your boundaries are for these things. There is no point planning out to only sleep 4 hours a night when your body physically needs 8.
2. START PLANNING
Now its time to create a schedule by blocking out time for work and study.
Your planner doesn’t need to be fancy. You can buy one from most stationery stores, use a pen and paper, excel or download my free study planner here.
You have roughly 16 waking hours to play with so you need to make the most of each one. If you work 8 hours, block out 9 hours to account for lunch and a little time each side. Then have a look at other things that are important like exercise, cooking dinner, life admin, playing with your dog etc. Block out this time in your planner.
Once you have your week planned out you need to decide how many hours you need to study each week. This will depend on the types of classes/learning your doing.
For me personally, when I was completing my CPA I was blocking out 15 hours a week of study time. The course I am currently completing I am only allowing 6 hours a week.
Once you have decided on how many hours you will study each week, you can add this into your planner.
You might notice that some of the more fun activities you can’t do every week anymore. For example, I would limit weeknight dinners out with friends to once a fortnight so I have more nights for study. I still have something fun to look forward to but I am fitting it in around my study instead of the other way around.
Map out your week/month with everything above. It can take some trial and error to work out what works best.
Don’t forget that you won’t be studying forever. There are always school holidays to fit in more social activities. You might have to make some sacrifices now because if you don’t, you will end up burning out because you will have too much on your plate.
3. STRESS MANAGEMENT
When you’re working, studying and juggling what feels like a million things, your to-do list can feel never-ending. I can’t harp on enough about how much stress management needs to be something you really focus on when you have a lot going on in your life.
It’s helpful to write down a list of things that make you really happy and assist you in winding down/relaxing.
Now look at the list and highlight all the things you can easily do like spending time with friends, watching a movie, taking a bath, watching an episode of your favourite show, things like that. Getting on a plane and flying to a tropical island would make me really happy, but unfortunately, I can’t really fit that into my Sunday rest day in time to be back at work on Monday. You need things you can do easily.
What works for me may not work for you. I like having a bath and spending time with family, you might like going for a run while blasting your favourite tunes.
It doesn’t matter what techniques you use to reduce stress, as long as you have them incorporated into your routine.
Whatever you have on your happiness list, add it into your schedule DAILY. It’s a non-negotiable, like brushing your teeth. If you want/need to juggle so many things at once, you need ways to destress daily, otherwise, you can easily burn out.
4. STAY HEALTHY – NOURISH, MOVE, HYDRATE + SLEEP
Your brain doesn’t function well if one of these 4 pillars is lacking.
Prioritise 7-8 hours of sleep a night, feed yourself wholefoods full of vitamins and minerals, drink 3 litres of water a day and don’t neglect your steps. It can seem like a lot but with some planning, you can ensure you’re eating healthy, moving around enough and drinking the right amount of water each day.
I found some great tips over on Whole Family Living that I really suggest reading.
5. TREAT YOURSELF
There needs to be some type of extra motivation to keep you on track and release some of the mental and physical pressure you are putting on yourself.
Give yourself permission to put yourself first and lock in a monthly massage, a weekly dance class, a coffee with a loved one, a movie night on the couch – whatever truly brings you joy and lets you completely detach yourself from your work and study.
Giving yourself a chance to relax and look forward to an activity that’s not work or study-related will help you avoid burning out mentally as you will have a chance to stop and relax the mind.
Make sure it’s something you really look forward to. When you’re demotivated and not in the mood, it can help keep your eye on the end goal.
This step and step 3 are very intertwined. Step 3 needs to happen daily and be easily accessible whereas the treat yourself step might be an entire weekend camping and going off the grid.
So now it’s time to put this into practice and avoid burning out while we are smashing out our goals.
Let me know your tips to avoid burn out in the comments.