One day you are excited about life, your plans and what your future holds. Then slowly but surely, it becomes more difficult to finish a project. Soon you are struggling to complete even minor tasks.
You give vague responses when people ask you how things are going. You promise yourself that tomorrow will be different. You will get up earlier, you will exercise, and you will eat healthier. Tomorrow comes and you struggle out of bed, two hours later than planned and it all goes downhill from there; again. It really does not have to be that way.
Here are 7 steps that you can take to put the colour back into your working life:
Step 1: Have a do nothing day
In my book, I wrote a chapter titled “Step Back to Take Control”. Take those words to heart. Stop all the activity, the obsessing and the multi-tasking. For one day, give yourself the freedom to have nothing to do. If you have a job, arrange a day off.
Unless it is life or death, or will mean you lose money or a customer, don’t even attempt to clear your calendar. Just stop everything. On that day, get up when you are ready to get up and do not feel guilty about it. Make yourself a nice breakfast, sit in your favourite spot, and let the feeling of doing nothing wash over you. For an achiever, this is actually very hard to do. Give it a chance. You will start to gain the physical, emotional and mental space to take the next steps.
Step 2: Rearrange your working environment
Go to the place where you spend your working day and just stand there and look around. Does it feel cluttered, messy, disorganised? Are there too many items in the room or on the desk? Is the furniture arranged in a way that makes you feel ready to take on the day, or go back to bed?
Play some uplifting music, something that will make you sing or even dance. As you move around the room; throw out items that you no longer need. Put useful items to one side to give away. Rearrange the room, equipment and paperwork to create a space that you will look forward to entering each day.
“Environment is stronger than willpower.” – Paramahansa Yogananda
Step 3: Have a VIP strategy day for one
Step one and two are designed to help you feel less stressed. Nevertheless, the entrepreneurial mind does not ever really rest. And too much time away from what you need to do can actually cause anxiety. In your new workspace, identify the things that are pulling on your time and energy. Write them all down. Write them on actual paper with one item per line, and a whole line between each item. Take this notepad to a place that is away from your day to day life. I book an overnight stay in a hotel, but you could merely go to a coffee shop for a few hours. The one rule is it must be a place where you feel relaxed. The nicer the location, the better.
While you are there, ask yourself three questions:
- Why and for whom, am I really doing this?
- If you do achieve your plans how will your life be? Your health, finances, social life, relationships, lifestyle, mental state.
- If you do not achieve your plans, what things could go wrong for you? Your health, finances, social life, relationships, lifestyle, mental state.
Take the answers and go through the items on your paper. Discard anything that does not fit in with your plans. Look at the remaining things and decide the one item that you are going to make your priority for the next 30 days.
You have now given yourself permission to put all other projects on hold. You only need to concentrate on whatever you do to continue to bring in income, plus your one project; for the next 30 days.
Step 4: Ask for help
The help you need may be in the form of skills or expertise, to help you with your day to day responsibilities. Just because you have your one thing, it does not mean you do not have to think about anything else. The other very important type of help is support for you. Join a group of like-minded people so you do not feel alone. You may even benefit from a mentor or a coach to check up on you. This is one of the best ways to avoid burning yourself out all over again.
Step 5: Create a relaxing evening routine
Establish a routine that helps you to wind down and get a good night’s sleep. I have a shower or bath, followed by listening to an audio book (not work related). Some people meditate, others write in a journal. Set an alarm on your phone as a trigger that it is time to start winding down. Follow the same routine each night.
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall” – Nelson Mandela
Step 6: Create an energising morning routine
This is similar to the evening routine. This time, however, you want to do things that wakes you up and gets you moving. Ironically, getting up in the morning often proves to be the hardest step to master for people who are fighting to overcome overwhelm. This is because emotional energy plays a major part in how we start and tackle our day. The trick is to create a routine that will be effective, regardless of how you feel. Your aim is for the routine to become a habit. It will take time, but gradually you will find you are able to get going even on days you are not looking forward to.
Step 7: Celebrate
I teach people to track their money. Tracking your successes are just as important, even the small ones. I keep a list of my little weekly achievements. It is a great tool to remind me how far I have come when things are not going well. If you are part of a group like a mastermind or you have a coach, it is wonderful to be able to share your successes with them. We all need words of encouragement from time to time.
For celebrating to be really powerful, plan your rewards in advance. When I have an article published I announce it to select Facebook friends and then I buy another pretty lipstick. One of my colleagues goes for a test drive in a high-performance car. It could be a fancy dinner, a holiday, a gadget or just time for you. As long as it makes you feel special, go for it.
When a computer slows down, if we keep pressing the mouse or keyboard, it slows down even more. The easiest solution is to shut it down, give it a little while and then turn it back on. We may not be computers, but sometimes all we need is to shut down for a while, so we can start again with much more power.