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Ghost-written Blog Post: Burnout and Boredom

Burnout and Boredom: How to Stay Inspired and Motivated (Even When it Feels Impossible)

Burnout is normal. We all suffer from it once in a while. It doesn’t necessarily reflect on your level of passion for what you’re doing; in fact, it often happens because you’re so emotionally invested. The more you care about something, the more exhausting it can be, so the question is, how can you overcome such stressful feelings and push on with your work? Well, take a few deep breaths and read on, because I've got the answers!

Break your work down into small tasks.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of your work—in fact, it’s perfectly normal. But nothing is as big as it seems if you can break it down into smaller, more achievable goals.

Amita Patel, owner of AlignedHolistics.com, says it perfectly: “I’m willing to bet that there have been times when you worked all day, but at the end of the day, you felt frustrated that you didn’t get anything important done. You spent time putting out fires, taking care of others, but not getting any big things out of the way. Am I right? The secret is that achieving your goals isn't about how much you get done, it's about doing the right stuff.”1

So how do you “do the right stuff,” so to speak? One tried-and-true method is to make yourself lists of each component that goes into getting something done. Checking off those smaller tasks on your to-do list feels great, trust me! You’re accomplishing things again, and the burden of feeling like you’re still so far from accomplishing the larger picture fades.

Create opportunities for rest.

It’s tempting to just grind on through your work no matter what and strive to deliver at all costs, but doing so can be truly exhausting, and ultimately detrimental to your finished product. It's easy to get in the habit of only taking breaks once you're already feeling overwhelmed, but sticking to regularly scheduled breaks can stop you from ever reaching the point of burnout at all.

“We tend to assume that it requires trying harder or outworking others, which may get you short-term results but is physiologically unsustainable,” Ron Friedman, founder of ignite80.com explains.2

To put it simply, time away from work leads to more productive time at work.

Don’t worry about things you can’t control.

If you're anything like me, you probably want to be in control of everything. In my years of experience, however, I've learned that the impossibility of complete control seems to be one of the most innate laws of the universe—especially when working collaboratively with others. If a task depends on someone else delivering first, don’t stress about it! There’s nothing to gain from anxiously tapping your pencil while you wait for something you don’t have control over.

Just listen to Stacia Pierce, author, coach, and entrepreneur: “Don't allow yourself to become so emotionally entangled that it paralyzes your progress. Things may not always work out perfectly, but the sooner you get over them, the quicker you move on to your next victory. Only you can control your own actions and reactions.”3​

Put away your smartphone!

I can already see some of you shaking your head at this one—I mean, come on, we live in the digital age! We use our smartphones for everything! But trust me on this, your smartphone is without a doubt your biggest possible distraction from the task at hand. How often do you pick up your phone to check a notification and suddenly find yourself, 20 minutes later, browsing posts on instagram or memes on reddit? Or maybe you've been reading your work emails, something you can convince yourself is productive, but is it really productive right at that moment?

This doesn’t just apply to dedicated work time, either. Having a smartphone essentially enables you to carry your work with you everywhere, and like I said before, you need to be able to take breaks—whether that means a 10-minute break to stretch, a long weekend, or a two week vacation, you need time to be yourself outside of your work.

Heidi Grant Halverson, social psychologist and author, strongly agrees: “Put ​away your phone,” says Halvorson. “Whatever it is, it can wait until tomorrow.”1

Focus on staying positive.

It may sound obvious, but we often don’t realize how much negativity we have in our thoughts and mindsets. This is something that I’m guilty of too! Negativity can be as simple as watching the clock tick and silently telling yourself that you should be further ahead in your work, but what does that accomplish?

There are plenty of simple things you can do to train yourself to think more positively! Put up a picture at your workspace of your loved ones to look at when you’re feeling down. Listen to soothing music while you work. Take a few minutes to write down a list of things you appreciate most in life: that coffee shop down the street that has the best herbal teas, the way your cat softly purrs while cuddled in your lap, that slice of pizza you had last week that was just unbelievably delicious...you get the point.

Trust me, changing your mental outlook can drastically improve your ability to stay focused, motivated, and inspired.

Give yourself some credit.

How often do you give yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished? When you finally finish something you’ve been working on, do you sigh in relief, or do you give yourself a mental pat on the back? If you’re not mentally patting yourself on the back, you should be. You deserve it!

Finishing a task shouldn’t just be about moving onto the next one. Stop for a moment and remind yourself that you’ve just accomplished something—and remember that it’s one more step toward whatever amazing unknowns that the future holds for you.

Richard Branson, entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group, has some inspiring words on the subject: “When you encounter naysayers, just keep forging ahead. After all, who would have thought … that the guy who needed to borrow a secondhand plane to launch an airline would one day help to create the space tourism industry?”4

Be committed to the process, not just outcome.

This ties in with breaking your work down into smaller tasks. When you read a great book, do you think about all the grueling work that the author did, taking their idea and forging it into the work of art you’re now holding in your very own hands? That great book probably took years from its conception to end up on the shelves of a bookstore. It probably took countless revisions, countless late nights, countless crumpled up pieces of paper, and hours and hours leading to years and years of work—all so that you could one day read the back cover, decide to buy it, and find yourself immersed in the story.

That principle applies to all work, no matter what it is. Everyone starts somewhere. Everything great that is ever created has a whole history behind it.

In the wise words of entrepreneur James Clear, “Fall in love with boredom. Fall in love with repetition and practice. Fall in love with the process of what you do and let the results take care of themselves.”5

And that’s it! Next time you’re feeling burned out, keep these things in mind and cut yourself some slack. Take the time to take care of yourself, and get back to work when you’re feeling fresh and motivated again to accomplish your goals—one step at a time.

Sources:

1h​ttp://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-18169/how-to-stay-motivated-when-youre-not-in-the-mood-to -do-anything.html

2h​ttp://hbr.org/2015/04/how-to-overcome-burnout-and-stay-motivated

3h​ttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/stacia-pierce/10-ways-to-stay-motivated_b_4941277.html

4h​ttp://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226565

5h​ttps://blog.bufferapp.com/the-myth-of-passion-and-motivation-how-to-stay-focused-when-you-get-bored-working-toward-your-goals