Here’s a peek behind the curtain at True Focus Coaching: Because you know I’m all about having a plan, I like to get a jump start on planning blogs ahead of time. But when my team and I starting talking about this blog in mid-January, we ended up basically shrugging at each other through the Zoom screen and saying “Who even knows what things are going to look like two weeks from now?”  

It seems like everyone’s having a hard time planning ahead right now—even the time management and productivity coaches. Our second pandemic winter has been a roller coaster already, and it’s no wonder you’re tempted to just throw your hands up at this point.  

People Are Hitting the Burnout Wall Hard Right Now. 

January and February always bring some real challenges that interfere with time management and productivity. When the holidays are long over and spring still feels months away, winter can be a tough time to feel motivated. A lot of people really struggle with their mental health in winter. Gloomy and/or frigid weather might make you want to curl up under a blanket and hibernate.  

Meanwhile, the post-holiday COVID surge is still in full force, and navigating that has gotten complicated. Some people are socializing and traveling normally, while others are totally quarantined like they were early on in the pandemic.

And a lot of people fall somewhere in between, constantly trying to analyze the risk and reward for every activity…

  • Should you go to that crowded restaurant?
  • Book that flight for late February?
  • RSVP for that wedding in March? 
  • Should you let your child go to that party?
  • Should you do that client meeting in person?

You can barely plan for the rest of today when you’re busy with all those mental gymnastics, let alone plan for the long term.  

It’s exhausting. It’s boring.

We’re all sick of talking and thinking about COVID, but it can’t be avoided.

And the long-term effects of dealing with this stress are wearing people down.  

Here are some stats that probably won’t surprise you: In the American Psychological Association’s 2021 Work and Well-being Survey, three in five workers surveyed said they were experiencing negative impacts of work-related stress. About one in three people reported cognitive weariness or emotional exhaustion. And 44% reported physical fatigue because of work-related stress—which was an increase of 38% since the 2019 survey. People are literally being exhausted by stress, they are beyond burned out.

Here’s What Happens When You’re Worn Down and Burned Out

You start making concessions around your goals. No judgement: have you been phoning it in? 

Once you start conceding your goals, the focus becomes “get through this meeting/this day” instead of “make this meeting/this day really count.” It’s the difference between surviving and thriving. 

Stack up enough of those “just get through it” days in a row, and it’s easy to get stuck there. When you spend a long time in survival mode, you might lose track of what thriving even looks like for you. You might adopt time management habits that keep you stuck in that place of overwhelm and burnout. And the longer you’re stuck in that place, the harder it seems to break out.  

It might even start to feel like this is just how it’s going to be from now on. Like everything’s going to continue to be so hard and overwhelming that your B game (or C game) is the best you’re going to be able to do, and that making real progress on your long-term goals just isn’t realistic.  

I get it. But I want you to know that you’re not actually doomed to live with burnout and overwhelm forever. You’ve gotten stuck in that place up until now, but you can get unstuck.  

Three Tips For Breaking Through When You Feel Burned Out: 

1. Add more variety to your day.

When you’re doing the same activities every day, day in and day out, you’re probably going to start to feel bored and unchallenged. I’m seeing this become a real problem for people who have been stuck at home for so long. Shake up your routines by trying new activities or rearranging your schedule so you have the basics in place, but you’re not always doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time every day.  

2. Set clear boundaries between “work” and “not working.” 

Studies show that people tend to work longer hours when they’re remote. You need structure to make sure you’re not overworking and are giving yourself time to rest and recharge. If you’re working from home, be mindful to create a clear distinction between when you’re in work mode and when you’re on your own time.  

3. Talk about it! 

There can be a lot of shame and other tough emotions tied up in feeling overwhelmed and burned out, especially if you’re comparing yourself to other professionals who seem to be thriving right now. But I guarantee that if you asked those people, many of them would say they’re feeling just as overwhelmed as you are. They’d tell you they’re struggling with time management and productivity too. Acknowledging burnout with close friends or trusted colleagues can lift some of that weight from your shoulders.  

Support is so important when you’re trying to break through overwhelm and start thriving instead of just surviving. Changing your time management habits isn’t easy. You need somewhere to turn when you hit road blocks or need to talk through an unexpected challenge.  

Want continued support for 90 days? Time Matters Boot Camp 90-Day program provides exactly that. Over the course of the program, you’ll learn to customize your own time management tools to help you achieve your most meaningful goals and take control of your time. 

Click here for more information.

Gratefully, 

Sarah 

Sarah Reiff-Hekking
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