If you're a driven, passionate person who wants to do great things, you probably have a tendency to overload yourself with endless meetings, appointments and to-do lists. I get it — feeling busy can make us feel like we're successful, desired, and moving forward. Typically this goes well for a while until, one day, you wake up completely exhausted, overwhelmed and drained.
So, is there actually something wrong with you? Or do you just need a few more strategies to stay on track? Well, I believe it's the latter. Here are six things you need to do in order to find flow and avoid burnout.
1. Set boundaries.
Think about the areas in your life that drain you. Think about the people in you life who suck your energy. What sorts of tasks and obligations leave you feeling exhausted? Your answers will reveal where you need to create boundaries.
Saying no isn't always easy, but there are graceful ways to do this without hurting other people's feelings. For example, when declining an invitation you can say "This sounds like such a wonderful event and I can tell that you put a lot of love into it, but unfortunately I have to decline. I really look forward to the next one." Honor the invitation, but stand up for what you need.
2. Get clear on what you really desire.
Sometimes we chase the wrong goals in life, simply because we think that we should. Going after goals (a career, a partner, or a body) that are not actually in line with your truth will always exhaust you. That will keep you in a "busy" cycle without paying you back in any meaningful way. You won't feel recharged and you'll inevitably find yourself feeling too unsatisfied.
3. Review your priorities before you start your day.
Look at your to-do list and split it into two categories: "urgent" and "would be nice." In other words, ask yourself: What needs to happen today? Keep this list to three major things. If you finish early, you can always go back to the list and tackle more. Starting the day overwhelmed will not get you anywhere, so take 10 minutes each morning to map out your daily tasks.
4. Create mini-deadlines for yourself.
If you start a project with the vague idea that you'll finish it, there's nothing pulling you through. Instead, put a mental note that says "I will finish this project by 2pm." Then work toward that deadline. (This is particularly important if you are a perfectionist who can easily work on any even mundane task for hours!)
5. Make space for self-care every day.
This is a non-negotiable. I am not saying you have to spend vast amounts of time on a beautiful two-hour nature walk every day —during certain periods that is just unrealistic — but I'd recommend taking at least 30 minutes at some point during the day and three 20-minute breaks throughout the day to tune in, get into your body, and free your mind to wander aimlessly.
6. Spend time in sisterhood (or brotherhood).
Surround yourself with people who understand you, support you, and want to see you thrive. Our lives can sometimes feel burdensome and we forget that ultimately we are only "alone in this" if we choose to be. (I know from my group coaching program how powerful it is when women get together and support one another.) If you don't have a support system, create one. Your friends will thank you.
I'd love to hear from you: Which tip resonates the most? What has your experience with busyness been?
Caroline Zwickson, M.A. is a Certified Women’s Health & Life Coach and the creator of the Well Mama program. She combines her education, trainings and extensive experience in Counseling Psychology and women's hormonal health and life coaching to support new moms in their recovery from pregnancy and their new identity as a mother as well as women who desire to get pregnant naturally. She focuses on helping her clients create optimal hormonal balance and emotional well-being through functional nutrition, positive psychology, and lifestyle adjustments so they can flourish in motherhood and in life physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Caroline's coaching is based on the philosophy that knowing how to nourish yourself in a way that promotes hormonal balance and having a close, loving relationship with yourself is the best possible preparation for a successful pregnancy, a smooth postpartum experience, and a joyful motherhood. Her approach to women’s fertility and motherhood is based on positivity and the firm belief that women have an immense capacity for creation, healing and bringing joy and beauty to the world.
Caroline has spoken at companies like Martha Stewart Living, Yelp, AMEX, Twitter, and Charity Water. You can find out more about her at www.carolinezwickson.com and download her free 5-step Healthy Happy Mama Guide here.