We sometimes comfort ourselves with the notion that it will get easier as we become more established. Once we’ve landed that corner office or taken our business to the next level. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. Yes, the work demands change. But it is rarely the case that they become less intense or time consuming.
We must be aware that there are significant risks posed by our over-scheduled, chronically demanding, not-enough-hours-in-the-day lives. When life is imbalanced, relationships suffer, work performance deteriorates, and parenting skills go down the tubes. Potential emotional effects include feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, irritability, and hopelessness.
What can be done to protect ourselves from burnout in the midst of what sometimes feels like life run amok? The following tried-and-true techniques can help:
- Prioritize. Not everything is urgent or even necessary. Focus on what’s most important and set other things on the back burner. Some things can be taken off your plate altogether.
- Ask for help. Don’t make the mistake of trying to do it all on your own. Hire help where appropriate. Call upon a friend, family member, or colleague. People are often glad to lend a helping hand. (Wouldn’t you do the same for them?)
- Take a break. In 30 minutes or less, you can de-stress, refocus, and re-energize yourself. Why not read a book, take a walk, or ride your bike? You can play with your pet, listen to music, or flip through a magazine. You can work in your garden or simply take a catnap. When time’s up, get back to work. Your improved effectiveness and productivity will more than make up for the 30 minutes of “down time.”
- Say no! You don’t have to agree to every request that comes your way. Both at work and at home, it’s perfectly appropriate, healthy (and necessary) to set limits on which tasks and activities you will add to your already full schedule.
- Stop trying to be perfect. There’s very little in life that has to be done to the point of perfection. Few people notice the difference between a job well done and a job perfectly done. Do it well and then move on.