This is a guest post by Kate Waggle of My Sailor’s Defender
Once you start to hit that burnt out feeling, it can be extremely difficult to rediscover your motivation and energy again. As a military spouse with a full time job, school, dogs, volunteer obligations who’s building her own business, I know that feeling all too well. It seems with every entrepreneur I meet, I see one more hectic, overloaded schedule – and sometimes saying “No!” to many of these obligations isn’t realistic or even possible. Here are tried and true techniques to prevent burnout when it feels like becoming Wonder Woman is your only choice.
Limit Technology with Airplane Mode
When you work online and from your phone, it is so, so easy to fall into the trap of always being on call. If you’re not a doctor, you’re not always on call. Heck, even doctors take vacations. Never taking a break is a recipe for disaster. Prevent burnout by planning breaks from technology.
During the work day, don’t be afraid to use airplane mode as a tool for productivity. If you need to write, study, read, or sketch ideas, download whatever you absolutely need and then disconnect. Turn on airplane mode on your phone and even turn off the wifi from your computer! You might find your work takes way less time than you thought once you’ve removed all the distractions that are only adding to your stress.
In the evening, give yourself permission to step away from your work, clients, and social media by using airplane mode. Turn on airplane mode in the evenings once your office hours are over to give yourself time with your family, even if all you can spare is 30 minutes before bed. Bonus points if you can get ready in the morning and have your first sip of coffee before re-connecting.
As an avid lover of lists, the organizer in me feels a strong pull to make One. Giant. List.
Wanna know what’s a great way to stress you out? Panicking as you look at your One Giant List, hopping from task to task, never really getting anything done.
If you need to make a list, prevent burnout by breaking them into separate lists for separate responsibilities. Organize what you need to do by job, school, and household/family categories. That way you can remind yourself you don’t have to complete One Giant List, you just have to finish up a couple tasks on this list when you sit down to work on it.
Take it a step further and rotate these responsibility categories. Maybe you have children or pets that you need to spend X hours with every morning and night regardless of whatever your day-to-day childcare routine looks like. Then block out that time to only take care of the kiddos. Once you’re done, move on to another block – 4 hours studying a school subject, or 8 hours at your day job, or 2 hours working on your business. I work best in big chunks of time so that my brain doesn’t have to unfocus and refocus on the task again, so I specifically plan to work on school one half of the day and my business the other half of the day. Maybe the next day I’m working my day job in the morning, so I’ll plan to only work on my volunteer projects that evening.
The point is to set yourself up for success. You should feel good about the progress you are making instead of drained by what you still have left to do.
Schedule Recreational Time
No matter what it might feel like some days, you are not Wonder Woman. You are not a robot. You’re just a regular ol’ human and you have needs for fun, relaxation, and socialization. Even if you don’t have all the time in the world, you still need to find time in your week to schedule in that recreational time. Treat this block of time just like anything else you’ve obligated yourself to. Recreational time is a work meeting that can’t be missed because you can’t do your work if you don’t prevent burnout.
While my husband and I have gotten really good at calling “Airplane Mode!” even if it’s just for fifteen minute chunks on the weekend to reconnect, I’m a homebody and I love to bury myself in my work. If I don’t schedule something fun on my calendar with other human beings, I just won’t hang out with anyone for months on end. Don’t let yourself not hang out with friends. It’s not nice to your friends and it’s not nice to you. Even though you might not be able to take off a whole weekend, or even a whole day every week without repercussions, you should schedule an outing every month. Find somewhere new to go or join your pals in trying out a new sport. You know what fights stress? Exercise endorphins!
What Does An Overloaded Entrepreneur Look Like?
While I am an overloaded entrepreneur, I am not a burnt out entrepreneur. I take time to disconnect from the internet during the day so I can be more productive and afford to disconnect during the evening or weekend to pay attention to my family. I rotate through my lists of responsibilities so I can always see how much I have accomplished. I value my recreational and relaxation time just as much as my work because I know that I have to prevent burnout if I want to continue my fast-paced lifestyle.
So tell me – are you an overloaded entrepreneur or a burnt out #hotmessexpress?
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Kate Waggle is a Navy spouse and a blogger at My Sailor’s Defender where she helps other milsos navigate military life with grace and confidence.
She writes about everything from surviving boot camp separation to strengthening relationships through less couple time and encouraging new military spouses to feel excited about even the scary parts of living alone & abroad.