I’m burnt out. What do I do?

How do I take a break when there’s SO much to do?

Chances are we can’t “afford” to take a break, because if we stop working the whole machine implodes (or so we think). The traditional “I’ll take a week of vacation” may simply not be an option. Instead, we may have to take our break in increments, in the form of half days or full days where during that time we do anything we possibly can to recharge. Taking a single day off is 100x better than taking no time off.

How do I justify a break?

The first thing is to realize that if you don’t take a break, the other option is way worse. We all have a reserve of peak output where we do the most amazing things that allow us to create something from nothing. That “turbo meter” (video game analogy) depletes very quickly in our formative years and rarely has an opportunity to fill back up.

Even if we can’t justify time off, we have to understand that if we don’t refill our “turbo”, we’ll never perform at peak efficiency again. For some of us, the only way to justify a “break” is in the form of how we’ll get more work done.

I’m not tired, I just don’t feel effective. What’s going on?

There are different types of breaks — physical, emotional, mental, creative (the list goes on). Think about what type of break you need most. If you’re staring at a blinking cursor on your monitor and you can’t get anything out of your head to move that damn cursor, chances are you may need a creative break.

That doesn’t mean you have to stop working, it just means you need to change your work for a while to reduce the cognitive strain you’re putting on yourself creatively. It’s important to identify what type of break you need to customize your recharge time.

No, but seriously, I’m totally fried. Now what?

There’s a good chance you need more than a break. You need a long, sustained reset period. In that case, the focus may be how to restructure your business for a period of time (1-3 months) where you work on a reduced load, or have someone else step in and work full time in your stead. These long recharge periods can be a game changer because they not only allow you to recharge, they give you some insight as to how the organization could be structured differently to help ease your burnt out long term.


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