Creating a Burnout Reducing Mindset
Our thoughts are powerful! They can keep us up at night, bring us great joy, or stress us out with physical repercussions to our health. Our mindset during this challenging time is no different. Letting the increased work load, reduced work force, and ever-changing priorities dictate our mindset will lead us to burnout! However, there are ways to shift our mindset to what serves us and reduced burnout. Three (3) easy ways we can reduce burnout through our mindset are listed below.
- Starting the Day Off on The Right Foot – Waking up and thinking about all of the tasks or things we have to do, the stress of doing them, and being frazzled from the word go is draining. It creates a physical and mental drain which leads to stress and burnout. However, when we start off on the right foot, we can be more productive, more efficient, and have less stress and worry in our lives. Starting the day off with what helps us relax, and brings calmness and peace to us, WILL reduce burnout. When we start our day off with calmness and relaxation, we are already ahead of the game because we are in a much better head space to tackle the day then before.
How can you bring calmness and relaxation to your morning? By sipping coffee while watching TV, playing with your pet, meditating, or doing a crossword puzzle?
- Getting Away from The Problems at Hand – In our current environment, it is very easy to get overwhelmed with everything we are being asked to do, especially when we get “lip service” from our management that they understand we are overworked but don’t take any action to help lessen our burden. It is natural for us to focus on these problems as they, rightfully so, bring out strong reactions in us. However, it is when we continue to harp on these problems that we are kept in a physio-psychological state which drains us and burns us out. On the other hand, when we allow our reactions to come out, embrace them, and chose to focus on the solutions we want to achieve instead, we switch our state of mind to one which keeps us in a physio-psychological state that uplifts us. Getting away from the problems at hand by focusing on the solutions, outcomes, and objectives we want WILL reduce our burnout through our natural physiology.
What trigger, cue, or reminder can help you focus on the outcomes you seek versus the problems you face? Ever present visual cues are greatly helpful, such as, whiteboards, sticky notes, posters, and pictures.
- Eating an Elephant One Bite at a Time – Most of us are probably familiar with the question “How do you eat an elephant?” and the answer of “One bite at a time.” But, how many of us actually remember to head it? When more and more gets dumped on our plate, it is easy to feel like what we are being asked to do is too much and is not possible; everything is too overwhelming and too large to accomplish. Similarly to focusing on the problems we face, this too keeps us in a physio-psychological state which drains us and burns us out. However, when we break our tasks up into small manageable bites, we WILL reduce burnout because we now know we CAN achieve them and WILL watch them be achieved one at a time. Focusing on what is possible and achievable keeps us in a positive physio-psychological state which empowers us.
What saying helps you take it one step at a time? Put one foot in front of the other? Keep it simple? Or, eat one bite at a time? Using a saying, a mantra, helps us in the moment focus on what is manageable and achievable.
Peace is in the Plan
One of the fundamental things which helps us, as human beings, put one foot in front of the other is the knowledge that there IS a way forward and we ARE capable of walking the path to get there. In other words, having a plan. During times like this, it can feel like it is impossible to plan with ever changing priorities and marching orders; however, there IS a way to do it! Planning our approach to how we handle our current circumstances and the decision process we use to choose our way forward IS possible. It just takes a little bit of writing, thought, and organization. Three (3) easy ways we can reduce burnout through planning are listed below.
- Writing it Down – It may sound simple, but it works! Writing things down creates clarity by naturally engaging a process to digest all of the information we have swirling around in our brains, and, it brings tangibility to the foundations of a plan for us. While we are certainly capable of thinking things through and processing information through thoughts only, writing them out goes far beyond keeping them inside. Five key advantages of writing it down are: 1) we remember our thoughts as they’re now out on paper; 2) we save ourselves time later by having them written down instead of spending time trying to recall them in the moment; 3) it is easier to organize our thoughts when we visibly see them versus trying to run through them using our memory; 4) we are more easily able to clearly and concisely expressing our thoughts; and 5) it is a lot easier to bring finality to the “rough draft” of our thoughts which typically exist in our heads. Writing things down WILL reduce our burnout through the peace which comes from the greater clarity, certainty, and understanding of having the foundations of a plan.
What method of writing it down works best for you, i.e., paper, computer, or whiteboard?
- What Factors Do I Need to Consider? – Right now, many of us are faced with ever changing priorities and an overloaded plate of tasks we are being asked to complete. The result of this is conflict. Conflict of priorities, conflict of what to delegate to our teams or take on ourselves, and conflict of quantity versus quality as there is only so much time in the day. In times like this, it is hard to see the worth in taking a moment to think versus working on a task we have to complete; however, taking the time to think through (and write down) what we need to consider WILL reduce our burnout in the long run. A key part of this is the question “What factors do I need to consider?” Knowing what goes into making our decisions WILL create a path forward for us and a natural sense of peace knowing we HAVE a plan in place to make our decisions. Several common factors which help us make a decision are: 1) what is the deadline for a task; 2) is the deadline artificial or mandated by law or policy; 3) who is responsible for a task; 4) what needs to happen before a task can be completed, e.g., does June need to complete a task and give it to George who then gives their task to Mike to complete this one; 5) what other tasks does a task feed into; 6) how long does it take to complete a task; and 7) how does a task align with our personal, team’s, and organization’s goals. Knowing what factors we need to consider WILL reduce our burnout through the peace which comes from having a plan of action around how to make our decisions and proceed forward.
What are the factors that go into your decision making and address the tasks on your plate?
- Organization Through Prioritization – Writing things down and knowing the factors that we need to consider are only two parts of the puzzle. The third piece of the puzzle is how we prioritize our tasks at hand. Once we know this, we WILL reduce our burnout as we have an organized plan forward of how to proceed in the most time-efficient manner possible. One of the most common ways we prioritize tasks today is through deadlines; however, as we see above, there are many other factors which come into play. Once we understand these factors, it is a lot easier to prioritize what tasks need to be done first before others, when they need to be completed, and who is to complete them. This prioritization naturally creates a sense of order for us which DOES reduce our burnout through the peace of mind of how to properly move forward. Having a list we can continually add to, adjust, sort through, mark off completed tasks, and constantly refer to, whether it’s a whiteboard, spread sheet, or project management tool, will create peace through having an organized plan forward based on everything we need to use to prioritize.
What do you already have in place that you can modify to more easily sift through and prioritize what is on your plate?
Creating & Holding to Boundaries
Time is a precious commodity! During times like these it is hard to have enough of it, especially with interruptions and constantly competing priorities! Even as I sat down to write this today, my time was taken away by a different task on my to do list and an unexpected (but very welcomed) phone call. However, this is important for me to write and is a TOP priority for me today! As such, I had to get back to it, what helped me do that was having boundaries. Boundaries are great tools in keeping us on point, using time effectively, and alleviating the sense of burnout we get by being pulled in too many directions and not being able to feel like we are chipping away at our to do lists. Three (3) easy ways we can help reduce burnout through boundaries are listed below.
- What Do I Want to Protect? – Space is a great example of a common boundary most of us have wanted at some point in life! Space, however, can mean many things. Maybe we need physical space to protect our “personal space,” or perhaps we need space in a relationship, or even space to think through something which is weighing heavily on our minds. And herein lies the problem. Space, just like many boundaries, are typically expressed at the surface level, i.e., “I need space!”. But what is it that we really want? Digging a bit more deeply and truly specifying what it is you want to create a boundary around leads to the clarity of what we want to protect. Once we know what we want to protect, we can the protect it. It is a lot easier to create actions and a plan to put a boundary into place when we know specifically what it is we want to create a boundary around, i.e., 30 minutes every morning, free of interruptions, to write a daily briefing. Specifying our boundaries, e.g., knowing what we want to protect, WILL alleviate burnout as it makes it easier to create and hold to boundaries which will reduce our feelings of being pulled in too many directions and having too little time to do our work.
What is truly at the heart of the boundaries you want, e.g., what do you need to protect? Pro tip: the greater the detail, the easier it is for us to define our boundaries.
- The Impact of Our Boundaries – Knowing the boundaries we want to put into place is only part of the battle. Knowing what impact we will have from holding to our boundaries is another. In other words: “What will holding to this boundary mean for me; what are the personal benefits I get from holding to it?” When we know what’s in it for us – our why – we inherently motivate ourselves to take action to create our boundaries and hold to them because there is a purpose behind it for us. Knowing the impact our boundaries have for us WILL reduce burnout as it makes it easier for us to put into place and hold to our boundaries, consequentially reducing our stress and anxiety.
What impact will creating your desired boundaries have for you? Pro tip: When we think we have the answer, asking ourselves “What makes that important?” will lead us even deeper to unearth the impact our boundaries have for us. Moreover, asking this question multiple times takes us deeper and deeper until we get to the true heart of the impact our boundaries have for us.
- Creating a Reminder – Another piece of the puzzle for our boundaries is helping ourselves hold to them in the moments we need to. In other words, setting ourselves up to successfully implement our boundaries when we need to. Whether it is needing to end a phone call (or even not picking up the phone when it rings) or stop going down a rabbit hole, having a reminder to hold to our boundaries in the moment is greatly helpful! While we often do this in our minds, having a physical tangible reminder yields much greater success in holding to boundaries because there is an ever-present reminder in our line of sight. Creating a reminder for us to implement and hold to our boundaries WILL reduce burnout as we will stay more on point, be more productive, and alleviate the feelings of being pulled in too many directions while not getting anything done.
What is a physical tangible reminder that you will see constantly, i.e., sticky notes posters, whiteboards, etc.? What do you want that reminder to be? Pro tip: using what is at the heart of our boundaries and the impact it creates for us are deeper more motivating reminders than just writing our boundaries themselves.