Summer is supposed to be the time for barbecues, family vacations, and fun. Overall, we tend to think of it as a time to reset and relax. We try to start the year strong, working towards our goals. When summer hits, we’re usually starting to feel a little burnt out, But the snow has melted, the sun and warmth has arrived, and we’re ready for to reset before the school year calendar kicks us into focusing on wrapping up the year strong.
But 2020 is different in just about every way. The months leading up to summer were nothing short of exhausting. Just about everything as we knew it was flipped upside down. Most of us spent them working from home. If you have children you were also trying to fight your way through distance learning as well. Many businesses were hit hard and struggling to stay in business. A few businesses were struggling to keep up with the increased demand.
To say that most leaders and business owners are burnt out is an understatement. And yet, summer hits and we aren’t sure what to do. Things are iffy as they reopen and we aren’t sure how long they will stay that way. Without any real answers, there’s a lot of mixed messages on what precautions we should be taking throughout the summer. Your planned vacations may have been cancelled or your budget may not allow for some of the things you had planned because of the hit that you took when COVID began.
This summer it would be easy to cave to burnout. It would be easy to let cancelled plans take over. And, it would be easy to think that you have to push through at a harder pace to try to catch-up for lost time from earlier this year.
Don’t allow burnout to take control
Some of the things that you usually do to curb burnout may not be possible, but there are still plenty of things that you can and should do.
Burnout can negatively impact your effectiveness and efficiency, but more importantly it can harm your relationships and mental wellness. Here are some things that you can do this summer to avoid burnout or recover from it:
1. Block off time on your calendar
Even if you don’t have any vacations planned it’s still a good idea to block off time on your calendar for a break. It could be taking one day off a week or just choosing a few days in a row that you can take a break. Set your out-of-office email reply and step away from any work related task. Focus on doing things that you enjoy. This could be reading fiction, playing games with your kids, going for walks, taking naps, gardening, or boating. It can be anything as long as you enjoy it and it’s unrelated to your job.
Don’t feel the need to explain to people that you’re really just at home and not going anywhere. They don’t need to know your plans. All they need to know is that you’re unavailable and who to reach out to instead for the time that you’re gone.
If you really aren’t in a place where you can step away from your business for a few days at a time, try blocking off an afternoon every once in awhile. Allow yourself to shut the doors early on a day if you need to. Or, try sticking to your actual business hours. If your website says that you’re open from 9 to 5, force yourself to stop making yourself available to clients at all hours of the day, 7 days a week. If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends doing this will feel like you’ve given yourself a vacation.
2. Create self-care habits and stick to them
“Self-care” is a trendy word right now in the mental health industry for good reason. It’s all the things that you can do to help your mental wellness and Americans aren’t great at doing them. We live in a fast paced society and even in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, many of us have found ways to stay busier than we should while neglecting basic things that will keep us physically and mentally healthy.
Self-care includes things like:
- Getting enough sleep at night. According to the Sleep Foundation, most adults should be getting 7 to 9 hours each night.
- Exercise. You don’t need to train like a professional athlete, but doing things like going for a walk, lifting some weights, or finding another form of exercise that you enjoy can do a lot for your physical and mental health. Exercise has been proven time and time again to help boost your mood, improve sleep and digestion, and give you more energy.
- Watch what you eat. The food you eat fuels your mind and body. Poor food choices will negatively impact the way you feel from day to day. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to a hardcore diet or avoid any sweet treats, but use moderation.
- Get outside. There are plenty of places to get outside and explore while social distancing. Find places to hike, bike, swim, or soak up the sun and warmth. Or, find a shady place to a read a book. The fresh air and vitamins that you get while being outside can do wonders for combating burnout.
- Take time to reflect. Grab a journal or your favorite note taking app and spend some time reflecting on your current situation. This can help you to see things more clearly and identify and areas of your life where you may need to make adjustments to really live the life you want.
Self-care also includes spending time with the people you enjoy and doing activities that recharge you. That’s different for everyone, so spend time figuring out what works the best for you.
3. Step away from the media (social and news)
Not only are we likely to hit work burnout in the summer, but this year many people are feeling burnt out from what feels like a million different things. We are hit with extreme controversy every single day. COVID rules. Racism. Politics. It seems like there is arguing and fighting every way we turn. Yes, many of these topics are important. Yes, we need to stay aware of what’s going on around us and what we should or shouldn’t be doing. But, it’s OK to step away from all the messaging for a time.
If you’re burnout, take a technology break. Or, just a break from the media. Block yourself from getting on social media for a few days (there are apps and extensions to help you do this). Don’t turn on the news or read the paper (or online news feeds). Give yourself a break. Chances are when you return, it’s going to be the exact same messages. And, you may find that you freed up a lot of time in your day and space in your mind to think about other things.
4. Find some alone time
If you’ve been working from home for months, you may need a little alone time. Entire families being stuck at home together for months can help families to make some positive changes, but it can also feel like a lot at times. It’s OK to do something on your own. Find somewhere that you can go for a quiet walk or sit in the morning and drink coffee alone as you watch the sunrise. Go out in the garden and do some weeding on your own or listen to an audio book that you’ve been wanting to get to for months. Make time for yourself.
5. Learn to prioritize and delegate
Many times burnout happens because we think we have to do everything ourselves. We put pressure on ourselves to get it ALL done on our own. When your businesses reaches a certain point, this isn’t possible. And, it will actually hold you back from growth while burning you out at the same time.
Make a list of all the things that you have on your plate right now. Include personal and business items. Then, prioritize your list. You could number them in order of importance or group them in to categories like “ASAP”, “Semi-important”, and “Can Happen Whenever”. Find a system that works for you. Once you have your list prioritized, keep it close to you as you work. Make sure you’re focusing on the things that matter the most and let go of the guilt of not being able to get to the other items at the same time.
You can also look at the list of things that you’re working on and identify things that other people could be doing. Are you spending a lot of time on something that would take someone else half the time? Hire them and delegate the task. Do you spend time on small tasks that almost anyone could do. Hire someone to take them over. Remember, you don’t have to hire an employee, you could look for a freelancer to work with.
Get help if you need it
If you feel burn out, you may benefit from working with a SPEARity business coach that can help you set priorities and learn to delegate tasks that you don’t need to be doing. Explore your options today.