Burning out and blowing up costs us all way too much in our businesses.
“Just power through it” is terrible advice because it’s a recipe for burnout, for blowing up.
Nobody gets to storming out of the office yelling “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” without powering through a whole lotta bullsh*t for a while.
So, in this podcast and article we want to help us all learn a new way to handle moments when there’s too much on our plates.
We are all going to have too much on our plates at some point. The question is, will you put in a little preventative maintenance and work smarter instead of harder?
There’s a podcast episode here I really think you should listen to because it’s full of wisdom and details about this that, frankly, once you hear it you’ll never forget it.
Below are some notes about this conversation that you’ll be able to come back to again and again.
Here’s that podcast episode. You can listen to it here or in your favorite podcast player (recommended because then you can listen while you do the dishes, or better yet, go on a walk).
“Why “just power through it” is TERRIBLE advice”
Here’s what happened…
Steph took on a TON of stuff in a short amount of time and then something unexpected happened.
It was an exciting time. She was planning a move from Chicago to Louisville.
But that meant she had to deal with finding new childcare, dealing with all the logistics of moving, selling a home, buying a home, etc. Kind of a big bunch of craziness all at once.
She also had a great speaking opportunity coming up that she needed to travel for.
But then, right in the middle of that, a bomb went off… her grandpa passed away.
If you don’t know Steph, she’s the director of member success here at Fizzle, the former head of sales training at Groupon, and she’s kind of a badass — detail oriented, very accomplished, a real go getter.
Something that’s also true about her is she’s extremely relationship and family oriented. She knows what matters most to her, and she sticks by that stuff.
So she was totally surprised by her reaction to her grandfather passing away. (She gets into this in the podcast episode. Very brave of her. Thanks for sharing, Steph! I think we can all learn from your words on this.)
Steph almost burnt out in the weeks that followed. She’s since course-corrected, but we learned 3 important things about why ”Just power through” is terrible advice.
“I think back to all the blowups or burnouts in my life and I wonder if they would have happened if I would have taken a few weeks to tend to myself. Those things may not have had to happen at all. But it also makes me think that what we’re talking about is a little bit of a luxury. There are those in a high stress environment that can’t make decisions like these.” ~ Corbett Barr
3 ways to work smarter not harder:
1. Find your balance: learn to tell if there’s too much on your plate.
Normally, if Steph were in a healthy place, the news of her grandfather passing would have been taken in stride. She could have gone back and said, “I’m going to make this transition, but it’s gonna be rough.”
We’re all going to have to deal with moments when there’s too much on our plates. If you don’t NOTICE that it’s too much — if you’re not aware of that fact — then you won’t have the chance to make any healthy changes… and sometimes those changes can make all the difference.
So, the first step here is to find your balance. Can you notice when there’s too much on your plate? Can you look at the calendar and see when you’ll likely feel a little overwhelmed in the coming months? Knowing this can be a huge asset because it enables you to make informed decisions.
“Burning the candle at both ends just leaves you in the dark”
2. Prioritize: there’s always more work than can be done, so what matters most?
Every entrepreneur (and mother) has felt it: there’s always more to be done than can be done. We have to make the most of what we’ve got.
In the podcast episode above we go into some detail on how to prioritize because prioritization as an entrepreneur can change everything about how you run your business. It’s one of those special powers of great entrepreneurs, like understanding audiences and sniffing out value.
3. Plan in structured breaks: keep the flow of progress consistent.
Any time that you have something coming up, major transitions, big life change, etc., it’s wise to look at that and say “how can I put less on my plate and consider building in some structured time off in case stuff hits the fan?”
“I don’t think I was more productive for having pushed myself to maintain status quo. The work I was doing was not from my core, I was not in an aligned place. I was creating work from where I was bent out of shape.
I’m not saying I would take weeks off at a time, but I am saying we tend to underestimate the value of a couple days — or even just one day — to reconnect and re-align. Get off the treadmill for a minute before you fall and smash your face. You can either pay in hours now to give yourself the space you need to process what’s going on in your life, or if you burn out you can pay days and weeks later to recuperate. If you get burned out it can cost you tons of time later on.” ~ Steph
BTW, you don’t have to take full days off. You can just take breaks from certain tasks. Sometimes it’s dangerous to take massive breaks — that opens you up for never getting back on the horse. But we can plan in structured breaks that recharge and nourish us so we can come back to our work with more inspiration and focus.
- Make a big exhaustive list of everything you do in your biz on a weekly basis.
- Look at that list and say, what can I take a break from for a week? It doesn’t mean you close down shop, but it can mean you run at a much lower energy level.
That’s a big point — a lot of people think “break” means doing nothing, but maybe it’s just doing less. So, what are the essential things in your biz you really can’t let drop? Can you let the rest of it take a back seat for a week? Give yourself permission.
Here’s another big tip on taking structured breaks: make a plan for what you’ll do when you come back. This can help you really disengage while you take the break because you know what’s coming up when you return.
“We just took 4 days and went to Tahoe. Portland’s summer is so beautiful, so we didn’t leave for several months before that. Those months got repetitive, I started grinding it out and not seeing the forest for the trees. Just taking those 4 days off in Tahoe brought me back with fresh eyes. Why don’t I do this every 2-3 months!? It’s so valuable!” ~ Corbett
“How to plan “Structured Breaks” into your busy weeks”
Beware the tendency to “just power through it.” Diligence and discipline are necessary for entrepreneurs, but burning the candle at both ends will leave you in the dark!
Links from the podcast:
- Stop Calling Women Nags — How Emotional Labor is Dragging Down Gender Equality
- Antihustle — Why Hustling Hurts You (FS161)