My week did not start well. I had a super-awkward ending to a date* on Sunday (which was kinda my own fault, but still not fun), didn’t sleep well, and woke up headachey and groggy. (Which was also my own fault, given that I decided pink lemonade with tequila** and staying up late with friends was a good way to feel better about the date snafu. Knowing that it was my own fault didn’t make me feel any better on Monday, though.)
Plus, I was still catching up from SXSW. I know the signs of burnout and I know when I’m there, and while it’s been a while since I’ve wound up well & truly burned out, I can recognize when I’m teetering on the edge – the combination of the final push of work to get Rock the System done and the usual conference shenanigans (lots of new friends, lots of walking everywhere ever, lots of free drinks) almost did me in.
I was also looking at a reallyeffinglong task list for the week…with the knowledge that I had to get as much as possible done, because my little sister is visiting me for five days starting next Sunday. And bringing a friend. And they’re staying with me (and my dog), in my 400 square foot apartment. Which, don’t get me wrong, is great – I don’t get to see my family often and I’m really looking forward to some quality sister time, but the fact is that I will get little, if any, work done next week and then I was supposed to lead an all-day workshop next Friday.
I was looking at everything to do, feeling overwhelmed, upset, and still ego-bruised from the date, and I very nearly had a panic attack. Yikes.
And an hour or two later, I was feeling much better. Not 100%, no, but better than hyperventilateypanicattacks. What did I do? And more importantly, what can you do next time panic comes knocking when you’re already on the verge of burnout?
Get some support
The first thing I did was go somewhere I knew I could be supported. I posted a request for virtual hugs in the Love & Money Revolution Community (which is awesome – new members are added on Monday, so feel free to message Rhiannon & ask to be put in, or just request to join the group). It’s a lot easier to walk yourself back from the verge of tears when you have other people reminding you to calm the hell down (with love, of course) and be kind to yourself.
Where do you get your support from? Do you have a specific person or group of people that you can turn to when things get rough who’ll have your back?
Take a step back
Once you’ve got some support and you’re at least a few feet away from the “everything sucks hairy donkey balls” zone, it’s time to take a step back and look at what’s on your plate. Look at what’s overwhelming you and see what you can do, even if you don’t want to.
One of the things that was freaking me out was the knowledge that, at the end of five days of having people all up in my business, I was going to be teaching a workshop (ironically, on avoiding burnout!). I didn’t really want to push it back a week, but when I thought about it logically, that was easily one of the highest impact things I could do. That way, I’ll know that I’ll be able to deliver a kickass experience to the attendees, and I’ll be able to enjoy the time with my sister without having the workshop hanging over my head.
In the same ballpark, is there anything you can do that will make you feel better even if logistically it’s not that big of a deal? I changed the wording on my services page to let people know that I’m currently booked up for project/operations management clients. It took all of about five minutes, if that, but it made me feel infinitely better knowing that that was out there (even though, realistically, if someone had emailed me wanting to work together, I would have just sent an email back to the effect of “sorry, booked up for now, here’s who I’d recommend”).
Once you’ve done the immediately obvious things, you can reprioritize. One of the projects I had on the to do list (in priority slot #3) for this week was the Making Habits Happen Kindle book. Which definitely ties in with my larger goals for the year (building a platform, increased visibility, writing more), but it isn’t going to be an immediate money generator and it’s probably not going to bring me new clients (since the topic isn’t 100% aligned with what I do here at Bombchelle).
When I did my brutally-honest assessment of what I could do, I realized that it’d be fine to push this project back a few weeks and that doing so would free up a lot of my time/mental energy. Nobody’s waiting on this except for me and the return on my time-investment is more long-term than short-term. Pushing it back is what I decided to do, and I felt a lot better for it.
Back the hell away
Not to be confused with step #2. That step is all about getting an accurate assessment, this step is about getting away from your work. Take a break! Go outside, walk your dog, go sit at a coffee shop, read a book or a magazine. Just get away from the computer, whether it’s for an hour or the rest of the day.
After I did all of the above, I felt so much better. I still managed to get some work done (including outlining & starting on this post!) and I was no longer on the verge of tears. There’s still the need to keep from being burned out – especially since this week is pretty heavy on client calls & socializing – but I’m off the brink and aware of what I need to do to stay away from that brink.
If you’ve found yourself on the verge of crispy lately and want even more burnout-combating strategies & tactics, check out the Kick Burnout Kit. Learn how to price for burnout prevention, systematize & streamline your services, & create self-care systems and start putting it all into action in one day!
*I am a magnet for awkward. I seriously am. I keep repeating to myself during these dating adventures/mishaps that someday it’ll be good material for my memoirs.
**Yeah, I’m classy.