The beginning of a new year provides a natural reset period, enabling you to reflect, analyze and adjust course as needed. During this time, you can identify opportunities to enhance your lifestyle in the coming months, both professionally and personally, and set goals to improve your overall health and wellness.
While this kind of annual introspection is important any year, it is uniquely critical at this juncture given the onset and continuing adaptations of the recent pandemic virus. The last two years have added exceptional pressures and challenges to our lives. The start to 2022 began for so many with a feeling of despondency and fatigue. After two years of life with the pandemic, there hasn’t been a moment to recharge – both personally and professionally. Companies have seen this firsthand through “The Great Resignation”, but there is hope to find the light and avoid burnout and exhaustion. It’s never been a better time to focus on self-care. As the saying goes, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
Completing the below exercises will not only help you to refill your metaphorical cup; recalibrating your daily habits will increase feelings of control over your schedule, increasing feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction. It can also help enhance your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. Business owners and company leaders may also see ripple effects reaching so far as to improve team morale and overall company culture.
Do not settle for the status quo. Do not fall back into habits that don’t serve you. Follow the below steps to recharge yourself and avoid burnout this year.
1. Set aside time for introspection about what makes you feel fulfilled and productive – and lean into it. Focus on yourself as an individual and what inspires you to get up in the morning. Take some time to really UNDERSTAND what’s important to you. Whether it is family, prestige, growth, project completion, learning, or the opportunity to help others, it is essential to understand what makes you tick. Having this knowledge provides the ability to tailor daily life to optimize the chances of fulfilling those personal motivators.
2. Discern what time(s) of day you feel most productive. This is a great way to set yourself up for success in the next year and capitalize on your productivity to maximize personal and company growth opportunities. Some individuals follow the early bird mentality, others operate best with the night owls. This knowledge will allow you to organize your schedule in a way that optimizes your most productive times.
3. Design your calendar to benefit you. There will always be continued pressure to fit in one more meeting or another quick call. However, that “one more activity” piles up when it happens numerous times a day. Insert blocks on your calendar dedicated to focus time (and reference the last step to determine optimal times for those blocks).
4. Allow yourself a lunchtime break. While many in corporate America fall victim to the constant pressure to cut break times to maximize productivity, adding balance into your day actually lends itself to increasing productivity in the long run. One of the important blocks to incorporate into your calendar (from the step before) is a lunchtime break. Even if you simply cannot remove yourself from an ongoing project, this will be dedicated time already allotted to enable you to accomplish what is needed. If you are able to fit in a walk around the block, studies show that exercise and breaks can actually increase creative thinking.
5. Take control of your daily routine. Your organization cannot dictate how you operate, you dictate how you operate. Whether this materializes in setting specific hours you are available for meetings, not responding to emails after work hours, or taking back your weekends. Honor your professional values and preferred methods of operationalizing initiatives, and this sense of control will continue to lend itself to increased feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment.
6. Take time for self-care. Whether it is using your allocated time off or dedicating time for favorite activities on the weekend, give yourself time to recharge. Spend time with loved ones, rent a beach house, go to a local sporting event with friends, pick up a new hobby, or settle in for the afternoon with a good book. Ensuring balance in your life will enable you to decrease feelings of stress, and over time, minimize the chances of burnout.
Remember the airplane safety speech that reminds you to put on your mask before assisting others? While many of us tune out this script from the window seat, it is an important reminder for many aspects of daily life. Increased dedication and sacrifice do not an irreplaceable team member make; even Jeff Bezos was replaceable. The recognition that we are all replaceable may seem nerve-wracking, but in reality, should enable us to feel able to pursue passions, take a break, and ensure adequate time for recharging. Take care of yourself first, and this will in turn allow you to become a better partner, friend, family member, and colleague in the long run.