As we near the end of another year (where did 2018 go?) most of us are probably feeling a little bit weary.
That’s fair enough.
Readers of this blog are typically hard-working types, with many of them striving tirelessly for financial independence.
But this can leave very little room for relaxation.
Now, hard work is essential.
You need to put in the hours in order to achieve your goals, but there comes a limit.
So how do you know when you’ve reached yours?
Put simply: it’s when things start to go wrong.
Your work suffers, you stop sleeping properly, and your mental and physical wellbeing isn’t what it used to be.
A few nights of poor sleep is nothing to worry about.
And you shouldn’t stress too much if the quality of your work dips occasionally when you’re extremely tired. That’s normal.
But when these things became ingrained it means you’re on your way to burn-out.
Here’s a few things you can do to arrest the slide:
1. Go on a real holiday
By ‘real holiday’ I mean a full digital detox.
The kind of holiday where you do not take your lap-top and you do not check your emails.
Sounds extreme, doesn’t it?
After all, we’re all so constantly connected these days that the thought of one week without technology is akin to being stranded in Siberia.
But we all need a break to re-charge and re-fresh.
The tech-free holiday is a tough one to stick to, but muster all of your willpower and make sure you don’t cave in.
Travel also gives you great perspective on what is and isn’t important in life.
And let me tell you: very few emails are so important that they can’t wait until your return.
If you run your own business like me, or have clients who need to be in contact with you while you’re away, then I suggest getting a staff member to monitor your email for anything urgent.
2. Work in blocks
One of the hardest things about trying to get all of your work done is the limited eight (or ten or twelve) hours during the day we have to answer emails and complete the work.
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While we can’t create more hours during the day, we can alter our work patterns so we’re more productive and less stressed.
This may mean working on a Saturday when no one is around to contact us, and taking the Friday off.
Or it could mean rising very early and finishing in the early afternoon to go play golf or exercise.
If you work at times that suit you and when you have minimal distractions, then you’ll be working smarter rather than harder.
In my experience, procrastination is often a result of not working to our own natural rhythms and preferences.
3. Say no to more
I now want you to divide your life into two columns.
The first should list the obligations you’re happy to do in your daily life (go to work, stay fit, play with the kids).
The second should list what you DON’T have to do, but agree to do regularly out of misplaced obligation. How long would the second column be?
The trouble is, people say yes to too many things.
They’ll agree to attend a function or event that they really don’t want to go to and this distracts them from what is important.
If you’re really busy, then you need to keep your workload confined to what you HAVE to do and cut out people or events that will just take up all your time.
Save your energy, in other words, for what matters.
4. Treat yourself
I’m not going to tell you that you need to eat well and exercise because you know that already.
But here’s what a lot of hard-working busy types forget to do: have fun.
That’s right, not only should work be fun sometimes (other times it’s just sheer hard work), but you should actively make time in your week for at least one enjoyable activity.
It doesn’t matter whether this is getting a massage, playing cricket with your your mates or going out for dinner with friends.
Pencil it in and make sure you do it, no matter how busy you are.
We’re pretty resilient as human beings, but if we work too hard without any rest or pleasurable activities to break up the momentum, then we’ll burn out.
We’re not superheroes and we all need a plan to combat burn-out — whatever that may look like for you.
Otherwise, we’ll end up putting in long hours at the office only to collapse at the end of it all in a heap.
And that will mean we have worked for nothing.