Do you ever feel like you’re still in work mode even when you’re not at the office? Like it’s hard to slow down and actually reboot?
As an executive, your work extends beyond the office. You have a lot of responsibility, and if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re really ambitious. That’s awesome, but a likely side effect is that you’re constantly thinking about how you can nurture, grow, and evolve your team. After a while, it gets exhausting, and you burn out.
You might feel like the work never stops, and you can’t catch a breath. Even when you’re lying on the beach with a mojito, your brain is still working overtime.It can be challenging to give yourself permission to not think about work or do anything productive. I get it. Today I’m here to remind you that it’scriticalto give yourself a break if you want to avoid burnout and keep performing at the highest level.
I’m going to share 10 simple and effective ways you can avoid executive burnout. No fluff, just actionable tools that will make your life calmer and more enjoyable, and your work truly satisfying.
Let’s get into it:
1. Ditch your to-do list and use your calendar instead.According to Forbes, millionaires don’t use to-do lists, they use calendars. We’ve tested this and it’s effective.
Here’s the thing: When you make a to-do list, you can’t really see how long something is going to take and when exactly it’s going to get done.
When you put a task on your calendar, you can block off the amount of time you expect it to take. Bonus? You’re forced to set aside a specific time of day to do it. If something needs to get done, put it on your calendar and watch your happiness and productivity soar. Using your calendar to map out everything you need to do gives you a reality check, as it shows you exactly how much time you need for each task. This will help you to avoid burnout, because you’ll know exactly how much time each task will take. That way you’re more likely to do it within work hours instead of toiling late into the night.The calendar tactic extends to relaxation time too. You can schedule in a massage or a simple hour of quiet time, which is crucial for preventing burnout. Try it and let me know how it goes!
2. Establish office hours for your team.If you don’t have specific time set aside for your team to communicate with you, you’ll end up getting interrupted hourly. You’ll never give anything 100% of your attention, and you’ll leave the office feeling drained and defeated.
Set aside specific office hours so you can dedicate full time and attention to your team members, while avoiding constant pivots (major energy drain).
Be strict about sticking to your office hours and closing your door when you’re working on projects or doing conference calls. That way you can dedicate full time and energy to your tasks, and end up feeling way more accomplished, calm, and satisfied.
3. Build a support network.When you’re a high-level executive, it’s crucial to have friends who really get what you do. College friends and family members are awesome, but you need a deeper level of support from people who face the same challenges – and successes – as you.
Find peers with similar positions and have lunch with them quarterly. You’ll learn so much about how they manage stress and balance their lives.
4. Say goodbye to the people who make your job more difficult.This is a tough one, but so crucial. Right now, think about who makes your job more difficult. Is it the naturally-skilled-yet-kind-of-lazy employee who has great ideas but can’t execute them? The brilliant trailblazer who can conceptualize ideasand execute them, but has SO many new ideas that he’s rocking the boat way too often and throwing you off track from reaching your big goals?
It’s time to think about your team and company on a holistic level and make some big decisions to protect your sanity and avoid burnout.
What needs to happen for you to feel fully supported in your role? Do you need to do some trimming? Take action this week, knowing that when you feel supported, your department and company will thrive.
5. Identify the skills common among your key players.Translation? Know what works, both for your department and your company. What makes your top performers so successful? Think outside the box here. It might be a technical skill, or even a personality trait.
Do outgoing employees tend to work better in the team context and create a greater sense of camaraderie at the office? How do your best teammates get the job done AND alleviate your stress?
Once you’ve identified these key traits and skills, you’ll know exactly what to look for when you’re hiring. The more thoroughly you know exactly what works, the less likely you are to burn out, because you know who needs to be cut, and what type of people you should hire.
When you hire top performers, you get to delegate more tasks and balance your workload. In knowing the prototype of what works for your department and company, you guarantee your success, which directly impacts the company’s success.
6. Exercise. You might feel like there’s no way you could ever make time – much less have the energy – for a consistent workout routine. The truth? Exercise actually gives you more energy and improves your focus by boosting circulation and blood flow to your brain, and every other part of your body.
The most successful and balanced (read: not burned out) people know how important exercise is, and they find something they love doing, then stick to it. So, what can you see yourself doing and actually enjoying? I recommend experimenting with different types of exercise to see what you love, and what works with your schedule.
Is it a quick, intense 20-minute circuit workout? Yoga? Running? Swimming? Salsa dancing? Rock climbing? Pilates? Body Pump? (my personal favorite)
Remember, you are not limited to the elliptical and treadmill. There are dozens of ways to integrate movement you actually enjoy, and it’s key to avoiding burnout. Experiment this week and find something you love!
7. Create boundaries around technology.The blue light emitted from tech devices like iPhones and laptops keeps us buzzing and awake. To reboot each day and avoid executive burnout, it’s extremely important to create rituals around technology, like shutting down all your devices by 10pm at least three nights a week.
You might even choose to go tech-free for one full weekend day, or ditch your smartphone for a few days of your vacation. Another great trick for protecting your energy and avoiding burnout is waiting until you get to the office to check your email, instead of rolling out of bed and looking at it immediately.
At minimum, try showering first, and perhaps setting a goal or intention for the day. Then you can look at your phone once you’re done getting ready. This preserves your energy stores and gives you a little pause in the morning, instead of rushing right into work.
8. Let your family help.You have a lot of responsibility at work, and one place you might be able to ease off and let someone else run the show is at home. If you have a family, delegate tasks to your spouse and/or children, and figure out a rhythm that works for everyone.
Maybe there are certain tasks you enjoy doing, and other tasks you dislike doing that your partner can pick up. For example, if you love cooking, perhaps your partner can do the dishes and cleaning.
Another great tactic is to book a babysitter every Saturday night, even if you don’t have set plans. That way you always have some adult time to look forward to, even if you just grab dinner at your favorite local spot, or dive intoa good book at the local book store.
Creating space in your home life will make everything feel easier, and will translate to a more calm and orderly experience at work – because you actually have energy to effectively manage your days.
9. Set aside specific self-care time.Look, if you don’t take care of yourself, your department and company won’t thrive. I know it might seem frivolous, but self-care like spa days and massages are actually high-leverage activities, because they refill your tank and give you renewed energy and fresh ideas. The challenge is that most executives have every intention of booking in regular self-care, but they don’t end up doing it.
The secret is to book your appointments six months in advance – your massages, haircuts, nail appointments, and any other self-care activities you do. Prepay and schedule them in advance so you’re obligated to go. You can also schedule recurring appointments at the same day and time every month. That way it becomes part of your natural routine (like brushing your teeth), and non-negotiable.
It’s also important to book regular vacations filled with relaxation and self-care – not jam-packed with exhausting sightseeing. Schedule at least two vacations a year – even if they’re just long weekends – and commit to leaving technology at home, or at least on airplane mode.
10. Get professional support.Alife coachcan change the way you approach and structure your work and life. This is a non-biased professional you can talk to about your work and life stresses, and they’ll help you find tangible ways to feel more fulfilled and balanced.
A coach can bekey in preventing burnout, as they can identify blind spots you might never notice (like the fact that you haven’t done anything for yourself in six months, or taken a real vacation in two years). It can be lonely at the top, and a life coach can change your outlook and management skills.
Executive burnout is a scary reality, and has even lead to serious illness in some cases. The good news is that you can take preventive measures today to avoid burning out. Another upside? When you’re thriving, your department and company are more likely to thrive.Are you close to burnout? Maybe it’s already happened once? Which one of these 10 tools will you experiment with this week?Share your experience and the one step you’ll take this week in the comments below. Wecan’t wait to hear from you!