Four Ways You Can Fight Burnout Today
Burnout doesn’t happen overnight—it is a slow creep that eats away at you. To combat it, we need sustainable defenses, not “quick fixes.”
This week, I want to share four ways I prevent burnout. Below are techniques and apps that I consistently use that have created a substantial, positive impact on the way I work.
I hope these tools can also help you regain control and focus more on the things that bring you joy.
1. Break the Email Leash by Stopping the Push
When email first came out, we all thought it was so amazing. Having the ability to be at a concert but still check in on email was freeing and gave us a feeling that we could have personal time while occasionally monitoring our work messages.
Flash forward to today. Email has become the weapon of choice in business, with overflowing inboxes, “reply all” meandering chains, and the ding that signals there is something new for us to read, possibly more to do.
This has produced a state of hyper-reactivity, where we constantly react to whatever the latest issue or need is coming from our inbox.
To break this cycle and regain control of my day, one of the most powerful steps I took nearly a decade ago was turning off email notifications. This was especially important to turn off on my phone.
You get a dopamine squirt in your brain every time you get a notification that a new email hits your inbox, which becomes addictive. You can escape this endless cycle by turning off the automatic “push” of email in your phone settings.
Doing this gave me control to choose when I wanted to check my email instead of it controlling me. The impact is remarkable.
2. Eat the Elephant One Bite at a Time – Todoist
If you can feel your deliverables and assignments stacking up, or if you struggle where to begin with a task or project, think of the adage “eat the elephant one bite at a time.”
Break those daunting larger tasks into smaller ones, and you can start to knock them off your list– and build momentum, which increases your energy.
My favorite “to do” app is Todoist. Several years ago, I went through an experiment where I tested different apps, and I settled on this one because it has smart technology. For example, you can type “tom 9am” within your action item, and it will automatically schedule it for you for tomorrow at 9:00 AM. It also allows you to share your to-do items with other team members without the overhead that many more fully-featured team task management apps have.
Todoist integrates with Outlook, your desktop, and mobile devices. Lastly, for competitive people, it keeps a running total of your productivity percentage and completion streaks.
3. Heal with a Hike – Outbound
When you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, one of the best things you can do is go for a walk. If you can, take it further and go for a hike. I find it helps me focus and burn off any negative energy. Just being outdoors and walking among the trees, watching how the light reflects, and experiencing nature around me rejuvenates my mind, body, and spirit. Even when I’m on the road traveling for business, a short hike brings focus and clarity, and new insights.
The Outbound app has been my go-to app for more than five years. Think of it as the TripAdvisor for hikes: You can search based on your current location, and it gives you a variety of hikes, from light, short walks to strenuous, multiday backpacking tracks. There are great reviews, photos, and directions on accessing the trails.
4. Step into Your Day… and Own It
Do you check your email first thing in the morning? If so, stop that immediately.
This is one of the worst things you can do because it sets you into instant reactive mode.
We have become trained to fight fires all day—running from three-alarm issues to five-alarm needs. This prevents us from ever getting ahead and focusing on our more strategic work.
I challenge you not to check email until you are “on game” for work. First, as noted above, turn off your email push notifications. Do your morning routine (exercise, coffee, meditation, etc.) first. You should check your email only when you are ready to start working for the day.
I have a 30-minute morning routine that wraps up with a cup of coffee as I mentally prioritize my day. Then I am ready to put them in my Todoist app, along with any emails to send to people to help with those items.
This enables me to proactively think about what I need/want to accomplish for the day or week. Then, I tell myself I am “on” and check my email. With this approach, I can work on strategic priorities proactively and tactical, reactive needs simultaneously.
Are you on the verge of overwhelm? Start your journey to renewed engagement, purpose, and peace by taking one of my free Beating Burnout assessments.