How to Deal with Burnout and Stay Recharged

    Are you dealing with burnout?  Me, too.  Here’s what I’m doing to recharge.

… and then I disappeared.

It started with the work-til-midnight grinds.  Then came the emails at night with more attachments to review.  More decisions to make. The phone wouldn’t stop buzzing.  Then it decided it needed a break and broke.

Ah, a well-timed break.

The initial relief quickly gave way to the stress of not being able to check work emails during such a busy time.  I get the shakes if I’m disconnected for too long.

And then my home laptop broke so I had to shelve my writing plans for JMC and the Financial Boot Camp.  Then I had to deal with the fallout of my parents forgetting to pay important bills while out of the country.  Then board meetings started and board members needed my attention.  And so did my kids.  And so did my wife.

I was buried under work and life commitments.  Technology that enabled more commitments but helped me fulfill them broke down, which broke my workflow, which created more challenge (and time and money getting them fixed).  So I said “no mas” in the most modern way I could:  I stopped answering all email and texts.  I stopped checking and posting on social media.  I essentially disappeared.

I had burnout.

Have you ever felt this way too?

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In those moments, it feels like everyone is SCREAMING! and pulling at you.  Every text or email is like a flashing bulb in your face.  Sometimes you just want to put your hoodie over your head and get into a darkly tinted car.

It feels overwhelming, and it’s happening to us more and more.

Why Do We Burnout?

Burnout is like those 50 apps running at once that make your phone to heat up like a hot potato before shutting down.

We’re so tech-enabled now that we can be productive at all times.  Because we can now take work email home with apps like Good or Maas (does anyone still use Blackberry?), we can email someone at 10pm and often get an answer by 11pm.  That means we’re also always working.

We’re also always interrupted.  Those little beeps and buzzes are designed to catch our attention.  As a result, it’s hard to focus and get into flow, and each little ping also gives us a bit of stress.

But when you’ve spent too much energy and time, your personal battery gets drained. Even new, exciting things come at a cost to your battery.

Here’s what you should know:

  • Burnout is fairly common:  Chances are you’ve experienced it.  Lifehacker highlights research by Gallop that found that 2.7 million workers in Germany reported symptoms of burnout. Also, a survey in 2013 by UK-based HR directors found that almost 30% believe there’s widespread burnout in their companies.
  • But it’s serious too:  It can affect your brain and heart.
    • Brain:  Can lead to memory, attention, emotional problems, and…I forget the rest.  It also speeds the thinning out of your frontal cortex, which is the part of your brain that helps you plan and make decisions.  So we have more and more things clamoring for our attention and opinion, but less ability to make sound judgements when we reply.  I wonder if we’d have fewer message board trolls.
    • Heart:  It increases the risk of coronary heart disease.  After awhile, it starts wearing down the ol’ ticker.
  • It’s growing into a bigger problem: The Harvard Business Review notes that we’re more at risk today than we were 10 years ago (and I think we’ll be even more at risk in 10 years from now).  In the article, Heidi Grant Halvorson, a social psychologist and the author of No One Understands You and What to Do About It, says. “There’s a lot of pressure in this 24/7 cycle,” she says. “It can lead you to feel lethargic, stressed, and depleted — literally spent.”
  • It’s bad for our finances:  Some of us have created such a complicated financial process that if we get overwhelmed and burned out, we might miss some credit card payments and incur the late fees.

(Want to learn how to simplify your finances?  Enroll in the JMC Financial Boot Camp below and I’ll show you how to make a Money Machine so your money runs on autopilot.)

6 Tips for Dealing with Burnout

  1. Get at least 7 hours of sleep:  Recharge your body and your brain. When you sleep, your cerebrospinal fluid washes away harmful waste proteins that accumulate when you’re awake. It’s your brain’s way of clearing out those 50 apps you keep open.
  2. Put away your digital devices:  Everything seems urgent!!! It’s not. I was tired of being jolted by all the beeps and buzzes.  So I put my phone on a table far from me. Then I batched email checking and my responses. Doing this also helped me stay present with my loved ones.
  3. Mix it up:  My wife and I had dinner and watched a comedy show.  We experience burnout often because we allocate so much time to things we feel we need to do. Take some time to do something you want to do.
  4. Exercise:  In The 4 Hour Body, Tim Ferris shares a story about Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies. When asked the secret to how he was so productive, he said that is was from working out.  In my own life, I’ve found exercise to be like that external battery you plug into your phone.  Just when I’m most drained, it gets me pumping again.
  5. Re-connect to your big why:  In my flood of frustration, I was dismembered from my why. So I had to reconnected my actions to my reasons. Otherwise it seems like an unending string of obligations.  I think about the JMC readers who share with me about their crushing debt and I want so badly to make this JMC Boot Camp the inflection point in their financial lives.
  6. Drink from deep, refreshing wells: Read good books.  I read Mindset by Carol Dweck, and am halfway through Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg.  I read from the book of Proverbs.  I talked with God more.  When I had no answers, I had to look to the example of a pretty busy guy who changed the entire world in 3 years. After dealing with a crush of seemingly endless needy people, he made sure to get away and spend time talking to his dad.

Reorient When You’re Spent

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We assume that dealing with burnout means doing less. But think about the last time you sat around doing nothing all day–didn’t you feel even more tired?  Dealing with burnout isn’t doing less; it’s doing differently.

Here’s our formula for success now:  work, work, work, work, work, then rest.  And some of us think rest is for the weak.  Deferring the stuff we want to do until after we finish doing the stuff we don’t is a cornerstone to success.  This has worked for us, so why change our formula?

Because we eventually break down from the weight of it all.

Get rich or die trying isn’t just the name of an album, it’s our unwritten creed.  But is this really what we were built to do?

I once heard a sermon (either at Redeemer or City Church or Liberti) where the pastor reminded us that God worked on days 1-6, then rested on day 7. But because we were created on day 6, our first full day was a day of rest.

This is the pattern we were created for:  rest, then work, work, work, work, work.

What’s the difference?  This doesn’t mean go party then study.  This isn’t permission to allow yourself to be lazy.  I am the guy who encourages you to say yes to the stress, after all.

No, it’s working out of deep rest by recognizing that God has already done the real work that’s beyond our scope and abilities.  Our burdens are lifted.  We can now focus on doing the best job we can in the task at hand without succumbing to the pressure of failure or panic that it’s all on us.

Recharged

Recently, I received a text from a good buddy.

“Hey, I’m interviewing for a job in Mergers & Acquisitions in NYC.  Can we chat?”

Several hours later, he was over at my place, where I gave him a private 4-hour M&A boot camp, helping him create an M&A model, introduced key words and discussed why his role is important to an acquisition.

Normally, I would vicariously feel all this pressure.  If he didn’t land the job, then it was my fault for not preparing him well enough.

This time, I just savored my time with him and enjoyed seeing someone learn something new.

Work can be redeemed.  No need to shut in or shut down.  No need to disappear completely.  Breathe easy and rest deeply, friends.*

Do You Have Financial Burnout?

You’re stretched for time.  I get it.  At the same time, you don’t want to put off getting your finances right.  One of the things I cover in the JMC Financial Boot Camp is how to set up a Money Machine so that you can focus on the stuff you really want to do.  Also, I’ve created a budget that does most of the work for you.  All free for a limited time!  If you’re interested in spending less time on getting your finances right so that you can spend time on the things you love, give it a try!

This 5-Day Boot Camp is spread over 5 weeks to give you time to complete the tasks–I don’t want to burn you out!

Get financially fit - and stay that way. Crush your debt. Build your own money machine. Retire early. All while living a life you love. FREE!

Complete your enrollment in JMC Bootcamp by typing in your email and clicking "ENROLL ME NOW!"  The classes will be sent directly to your inbox, paced to give you time to complete each one.  Start your financial fitness journey today!

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*And if that doesn’t work, I’m a big proponent of cute animal videos.

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