Written by Brenda Della Casa, Founder of BDC Digital Media
One of the greatest things about living in the information age is that it allows for incredible opportunity and for us to work freely from anywhere around the world, but as with everything, there’s a downside. Being plugged in 24-7 means that it can be difficult to shut down, even after we have closed our computer.
While it’s become a bit of a war badge to boast about how “busy” we are, the fact is that movement is not always aligned with progress and existing in a chronic state of depletion and stress will not only wear you down physically, but it can also do long-term damage which can lead to Alzheimer’s and other age-related cognitive disorders.
This information is not new and yet, we continue to move forward at rapid speed. It’s no wonder that 30% of entrepreneurs report symptoms of depression (compared to15% and 16.6% of non-entrepreneurs) and more than 50% of those suffer from burnout.
While this might sound dire, the truth is this: you don’t have to wake up exhausted, be sidelined by the same setbacks every day or lay in bed with your eyes wide open as you replay every frustrating conversation you had with a client. If you’re ready to get out of the rut, turn off autopilot and experience that elusive “breakthrough” you’re in luck. I am here to share five effective ways to turn things around (almost) immediately.
1 | Set the tone early on.
When you have a clear vision as to how you want things to go, it’s easier to make a plan. So, if you’re tired of waking up overwhelmed, take control of your day first thing. Keep a pen and paper on your nightstand and do a brain dump before you go to bed. Write down everything you still need to follow-up on and place them in different groups (projects, admin, etc.). In the morning, choose three (and only three) main goals you will achieve that day and three small tasks you will address first thing in the morning. Finally, write down an intention, phrase or just a word like “grace” to use to rebalance when things get stressful.
2 | Prep for setbacks
Whether it’s a bullying boss, stressful commute or chaotic client, workdays are full of small (and not-so-small) annoyances that can be tedious to deal with. That said, allowing the same thing to derail your day (day-after-day-after day) is a one-way ticket to burnout. Use the information you have to create an exit strategy that will allow you to achieve your goals with a minimum amount of stress. Example: If your colleague is constantly making passive-aggressive statements, don’t wake up every morning thinking, “this is the day he/she will change” or dreading every interaction. Instead, come up with a few responses that will serve to create boundaries. Phrases such as “I am unclear as to what you mean by that statement, can you clarify?” or “I understand that you are unhappy with the way I am managing this. How would you like to see me change my approach?” work well. These force your client to take ownership of statements and come up with a clear direction as opposed to just taking swipes.
3 | Commit to making a fresh start
“Don’t Get Mad, Get Better.”This is the motto I rely on when I feel as though I am being underestimated or engaging in behaviors that are keeping me from being my best self and doing my best work.
The second you recognize that the way you are going about things is not working for you is the second to start making changes. Being willing to hit reset when you recognize that your thoughts and actions are no longer representing who you are or supporting where you want to go is an essential component of success. Take a moment to close your eyes and really visualize your evolution. Consider the ways you can “go higher” today and then do the work to find ways to polish up your skillset and personal brand. These moments of reflection life-changing if you take your words seriously and commit to continual growth.
4 | Create some consistency in your schedule
When you are running a business, freelancing, and/or working in a dynamic environment, consistency can sound like a far-fetched concept. That said, placing routine where you can serve as anchors in your day that will allow much-needed breaks and give a sense of stability which can be a sanity-saver in busier times. Can you block out your mornings and evenings so that you only take meetings from 10-5 or schedule a lunch break at the same time every day for a week or two? What about scheduling a 15 min break every afternoon to get a couple of hours of admin in so that you’re not left chasing the same task list every week? If this can’t be done at the office, tighten up your routine before and after work. It’s especially important to do something to “close out the day” (perhaps adding new tasks to your Trello board or having a cup of tea and chatting with a colleague) so that you can send yourself a signal the workday is complete.
4 | Learn to say “No”
Here’s something that took me way too long to recognize: people-pleasing is a one-way ticket to disappointment and basic wellness routines such as bathing should not have to be filed under “self care”. While we all want to feel valuable, wanted and “super-productive” the truth is we are human beings with very human limitations and just because we can get it all done doesn’t mean we should. Yes, it’s necessary to push yourself to your limits with important projects but running yourself into the ground day-after-day will lead to exhaustion, frustration, resentment, and possible disease. How is this useful? Commit to a certain number of hours each week and divide them up as needed. Once you have booked those hours, say “no” or “not right now” to any other commitments or projects. Doing so will protect not only relationships and current projects but also your physical and mental health.
5 | Turn down the noise
From people who love to jump in with their (often uninformed) two cents to news outlets shoving anxiety-inducing click-bait headlines into our faces, the world is constantly screaming at us. The only way to protect your peace and stay focused on what matters most to you is to turn down the volume. You do this by committing to a specified number of tasks, scheduling times to look at emails (instead of replying in real-time) and refusing to engage nonsense. Do you need to respond to the colleague who decides to jump in with an uninformed opinion about your work or participate in the Facebook debate that will lead to precisely zero change? Are you carrying around a book or podcast that will empower you or scrolling The Daily Mail showbiz headlines every morning? Asking yourself, “how is this contributing to business, growth and peace?” is a great way to determine if something is worth your time or not.