How to Fight Burnout: Let Go of Being “Busy”  (Part III)


This is Part III of the my three part series on fighting burnout. Click here to read Part I and click here to read Part II.

Okay, so it was kind of hard for me to find a pretty picture for this one to go with my metaphor. So I decided to keep my aesthetic with the cover photo, and then show you real picture I wanted to put below, which is a tire stuck in the mud. Have you ever been stuck in either snow or mud, and no matter how much you spin your wheels, you can’t get out? Either you need to be towed out, or you must come up with some completely different solution to get out.

I love this metaphor because I think that it has very relevant application to our lives. Much like the spinning tires, trying to get out of the mud, but not succeeding, we spin our wheels in life. We are trained to always be “busy” potentially filling our work and personal lives with endless social obligations, projects and myriad activities that may or may not fit into the big picture of our life goals and careers. When we look at the tires spinning in the mud, yes they are spinning, (i.e., busy) but are they being productive? No. They could keep spinning forever, and never get out. So, my point is, busy doesn’t necessarily mean productive, it just means busy.

In order to prevent “wheel spinning” it is important to regularly self-reflect, think, and assess where you are, what you are doing, and the effectiveness of your efforts. This practice is essential, and too many of us don’t do it enough, let alone do it at all.

Instead, we just keep status quo—spinning our wheels, never stopping to assess if what we’re doing is actually working or if we really are deriving any benefit from what we’re doing.

This all contributes to the feeling of burnout. We may be putting in all of this effort, and getting nowhere, and we feel overwhelmed, burned out, and unhappy.

So what can we do to address this?

I am a big advocate for taking breaks, which is essentially time where you give yourself some space to reflect on your current initiatives and assess what you’re doing. We often neglect to give ourselves breaks and personal time because we’re so caught up with being busy!

Also, let’s take a look at what “taking a break” really means. It does not mean vacation. It does not mean you take off work, but then give the nanny a week off. It does not mean you leave work and then commit to something else that is going to require your time and attention. When I say “take a break” I mean block off time where you have minimal, scheduled obligations. Time where you can do whatever you want, where you can think, assess and identify areas where you may be “spinning your wheels.” If you do this regularly, it can work wonders. 

Understanding Burnout

Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It is often the result of a confluence of factors that buildup over time. Think of burnout as a weed in the garden of your life. It may start small and in only one place, but without proper attention, it soon devours your whole garden. It will take time and effort to get your garden back to where it was, but with care and time, it can be done.

I hope that with these three tools I shared in this series, you will be able to recognize when you start to feel burnout and stop it in its tracks. Acknowledge that you are one person with only so much time and energy. Assess your goals, prioritize them, and don't be afraid to scale back on something to give yourself the space to actually achieve them. And take the time you need for self-reflection. Remember, this is an ongoing process, not something you have to do perfectly right away.

Are you feeling burned out? What are some ways that you fight it? Message me here!