Take a break, get more done!

When you start to work on a special project, it’s because you really feel with all your soul and being, that the outcome of that project is going to make a difference.

It could be a difference in your life, your spouse’s, for your company, for your child. 

 And I’d bet that when you are working on your project, it doesn’t even feel like work. Time doesn’t matter and the feeling of being in the flow feels terrific. 

 And then one day it doesn’t anymore. You are exhausted. You start to procrastinate. Nothing is getting done.  You feel totally off track. 

 My friend, you may be burnt-to a crisp-in and out.

You may try to push yourself through it. Power up and lean in. But it will still get you nowhere fast.

What you do need to do is take a break. Does this seem counterintuitive? Perhaps. But it is a necessity.

 In fact, The New York Times reported “taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity – and that skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion”*.

Well, well, well.  

Even though I totally get the concept, still, I am a recovering overachiever. I love lists because I LOVE to check things off my list. A psychologist may say that is how I get some of my own self worth, maybe that is true.

However, recently I realized I had to listen to my gut and not always succumb to the power of the list. And once I did, and it didn’t/doesn’t happen all the time, I feel lighter, better and then much more focused and ready to work again.

So where to start in your own life?

1. Figure out what is making you feel burnt the most and start doing less of it – as soon as you can.

Sometimes we really don’t need to do the stuff we think we have to in order to keep things going. Keep in mind, it may not be reasonable to stop doing certain reports at work or your laundry forever, but is there a way you can make that activity more pleasurable? Crank up the music, dance and fold? You get the idea.

2. Figure out what you love doing.

How can you do more of that and less of what burns you out? Is there a way to cretively swap that function with a co-worker who may enjoy what you loathe?

3. Try your best to set some time each week where your project, chores and other “to-dos” aren’t even a thought. Schedule it in and guard that time with your life.

In Danielle LaPorte’s book The Fire Starter Sessions, she suggests the following “stop-its”:

  • Checking email obsessively (that’s me!!)

  • Last-minute errands

  • Tasks not in your natural skill set--outsource

  • Being in charge (do not volunteer, at least not now)

  • Subscribing (too many magazines and email newsletters just leads to overwhelm!)

  • Forcing yourself to finish a book that sucks (oh thank you Danielle, I know you wrote this one for me!)

You get the idea.

Now, you tell me in the comments below – what are you going to add to your stop-doing list? What are you going to stop doing immediately? What are you going to stop doing six months from now? What would you LOVE to stop doing?

*The New York Times, To Stay on Schedule, Take a Break, June 16, 2012.

Marissa Bishop