I often get asked, “What do I do when I can feel burnout coming on?”
And this is a great question because the first thing people, and women especially, usually do is drop all their self-care practices in the hope that this will create more time for them to “get on top of things.”
This couldn’t be further from the truth. These self-care practices, whatever they are for you, actually help you be more productive, more creative, more organized, and calmer.
So, what should you do?
My first suggestion would be to pause. Just get off the hamster wheel to give yourself some time and some space.
Next, I would urge you to do some serious re-prioritizing in your life.
What can you delete?
What can you delegate?
What can you postpone?
Only focus on the high priority items, one of which should be your personal self-care.
We all have those tasks on the to-do list which have been hovering for ages but always get shunted to the bottom. If these tasks keep getting shunted, then maybe no one needs them done at all.
Often these are all the “shoulds”, all the obligatory shit we feel we “have to do”. “We should have the neighbors around for dinner?” How long has this been on your to-do list? Does it really matter if you do or don’t have them around?
You might feel a little guilty deleting these from your to-do list but chances are no one will ever know!
What tasks can you delegate? Can you outsource your laundry? Ask a grandparent or friend to mind the kids for an hour or so. Are there tasks at work you could delegate?
You will be quite surprised at how helpful people can be if you just explain that you need a little help.
The trick here is to communicate clearly what your expectations are and delegate them to someone you know you can trust.
I can hear the perfectionists saying “it’s just easier to do it myself”…. Well, it is, and it isn’t. Sometimes, good enough is good enough and not everything has to be done just so. Sometimes, heaven forbid, you need to lower your expectations.
Maybe hubby cooks once a week and you end up with two carbs on the dinner plate instead of one, it’s okay, it’s only one night and he is trying to help. Let that perfectionist shit go.
What can be postponed? No doubt when you look at your to-do list you will find some tasks which can wait.
Just the other day, I told my team that a deadline we had for a proposal wasn’t going to work for me. They all understood, and we shifted it by two weeks. Plenty of time to do it and do it properly.
Again, a good postponement comes with clear communication. Explain the circumstances (if necessary) and adjust realistically to a new date.
You will be surprised by how accommodating people can be.
Often, we have a sense of importance or urgency that just isn’t real, it is only perceived because we put so much pressure on ourselves.
So, what is the answer to the question “What do I do when I can feel burnout coming on?”
Pause, re-prioritize, delete, delegate, postpone.
If you can effectively do this, you will ensure you don’t lose your self-care practice and you can stop burnout in its tracks.
For more on self-care, read my blog: “Using your love language to practice effective self-care.“