Burnout. Last week I had a moment of shame when I realised that I let my fatigue and irritation influence a blog post. Not to say that I shouldn’t have felt these things. I have every right to; I’m a busy mum who also happens to be ill.
But I should – and here’s where I let myself down – be able to manage my time, personal expectations and writing in a manner that doesn’t make me poorly (or enhance existing problems) and therefore adversely affect what I do here.
I know I’m not alone in that.
Many people I’ve talked to in various places have had days of burnout, the results of which can last hours, days, weeks, months, even years. The last time I treated myself so badly I had to take a month off blogging to recover. I don’t want to have to go that again, nor do I want you to suffer the same what I have/am currently. So… here are my five steps all based on my experience over the last few weeks.
Be realistic about your goals
Goals are important. They structure your work, guide you and make sure that you don’t waste valuable time in things that are of no help to you. But they’re a double edged sword. They can make you fearful and/or stressed. They can make you look only at what you haven’t achieved instead of the wonderful things you have.
You have a busy life. Fine, we all do. That’s all the more reason to really look at your life and be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do.
Transfer half a novel’s worth of edits back to digital in a week? Yes… some folk could do that. I did manage to do that, but only at a detriment to my health, with too many late nights and early (more so than usual) mornings. In additional, none of my background admin work as a writer got done.
Be honest. Be brutal. It’s the best way to be kind and, as a result, a hell of a lot more productive.
Ask for helpI suck at this one. My friends and family will agree.
Need to pop to the shops, but can’t because I’m at home alone with the boys sleeping in their beds? Don’t fret about it, Illy, ask Dave to bring something on his way back.
Need an extra hour one day to work on a time sensitive article? You have friends and extended family quite literally one street away; ask them to watch the boys for an hour. The worse they can say is no.
Ask. For. Help.
I can’t stress this enough. None of us are immortal or super human. We can’t do everything alone, no matter how much we might want to.
Take time for you
All work and no play makes Illy a sick, whiny and anti productive girl.
Hell yes it does.
Last week I took a ‘week off.’ I still worked, but only here and there. The days I did do some editing, or tweaking or writing, were amazing because I came to them with a fresh head that wasn’t still leaking panicked thoughts from the day before.
And around those things I watched films, cooked recreationally, played with my boys in the park. All activities that reminded me of why I’m doing this in the first place.
And that’s also important to remember.
I’m doing this for my family. Not just because I love writing, but because if I can eventually get to a stage where I can comfortably pay a bill or two with my writing, then I can spend more time with my family. Watch my boys grow. Enjoy time with Dave. But I won’t be able to do any of that if I have a nervous break down first.
Puts it in perspective, right?
Don’t sweat the impossible stuffThere is a hell of a lot we can control. Doesn’t feel like it, but it’s true. However there is waaaaaaaaay more stuff that we can’t. Unfortunately for me, that’s the stuff I worry about most, which is dumb because, really, what can I do about it? Nothing. So what use is there in me worrying about it? Crap all.
Apply this to yourself; pick out the things that stress you out and see if they are actually things you can change. If so, great! Do so… you’ll feel better for it. If not? Put them to one side, draw a line under them and let the Universe worry about them because you sure as hell can’t make any difference. Apply your time and energy to things that will benefit from it.
Yes… I know it’s easier said than done, but you owe it to yourself to try.
RestLast week I promised myself I’d be in bed by 10pm every night. It didn’t work every night, but those in which I managed to slip between the covers at that sort of time were heavenly. I thought I’d toss and turn until midnight, but I didn’t. I passed right the hell out and woke up maybe one or twice to turn over. And in the mornings which followed I didn’t beg the Universe to give me an extra hour in bed. I wanted it – I’m lazy, remember? – but I didn’t need it.That made an incredible difference to the rest of my week.
So there you are. My five tips.
Now, I know it’s Monday today and that’s usually a goal day. It still is, but I realised some time in the week that just reading through what I want to do with my week might well be boring for you guys. VERY useful for me, not you.
So the new format of my Monday posts will be
- Something for you; Illy Tips, links, competition notices or reviews
- Round up of the last week’s goals
- Thoughts on the upcoming week’s goals
That way, if you’re not interested in my working week; you can read to the end of section one and then skip off and enjoy your day. :p Hope that works for you.
Recover. I did it to myself, but I need to spend some time being calm and taking care of myself. Reading. Catching up on my writing magazines.
Done. And it really was worth it. I still got work done, but I also managed to spend time on me. Wonderful!
I’m still ill, mind you. I spend chunks of yesterday at A&E, sobbing at the out of hours doctor, but that’s more about the silly stuff my body is doing with certain foods, rather than over fatigue and burn out. So thumbs up!
- Continue to rest. I’m nowhere near 100%, not even 60%, so concentrate, if I must, on easy activities like:
- Reading through left over magazines
- Actually reading some of the blogs I follow
- Chatting on Twitter
- Chatting on Facebook
- Planning future blog posts
All things that don’t feel like ‘work’ but are essential in understanding the changing market, building my brand and marketing.
If I have time for it, yes, I can do some more transferring of my notes. But, as I mentioned in the comment stream of last week’s post; I’ve found a major structural issue which needs to be addressed before I can send the story to betas. And that certainly means that the initial estimate of March 1 is way off.
Can’t be helped. Don’t sweat the impossible stuff.
I can fix it, just need to spend the time doing it.
Peace out, guys. Hope you have a good week and, my tips are of some use to you.