So over the past month and a half or so I have been working on some really big changes regarding the True North brand as well as getting some pretty exciting stuff teed up for you all in the new year. Like its pretty freaken exciting and I can’t wait to share everything with you. But as great as it all is and for as stoked as I am, I may have stretched myself a weeeeee bit too thin. And I think that happens to all of us sometimes. So today I wanted to focus/reflect on what it means to prioritize based on energy and time sucks, how to be gentle with yourself, and how to fit in the things that you enjoy because it's so important.
This past week was really tough, I think I started to feel the result of filling my plate a tad too full. I was exhausted to say the least. And I think a lot of us find ourselves in this situation - we try to be superwoman and do all of the things and set these really high expectations for ourselves and before we know it we find ourselves sprawled on the couch, knee deep in pizza from dominos, 6 episodes into another season of the Amazing Race saying f*ck all of this today, please don’t talk to me (me last week).
So what can we do to avoid this type of burnout? Not to say that it’s not okay to take a breather and enjoy some pizza and alone time.. It’s necessary sometimes and we need to learn how to recognize when we need to step away from the craziness and not to beat ourselves up when that happens. But how do we keep ourselves from feeling like pulling our hair out every single day (because that might be hinting at a problem). A few things come to mind:
1. Know your energy suckers and energy givers.
I took a class with Alex Gil last spring and she specializes in stress management. She taught that the two important pieces in managing your stress/your productivity is to understand what leaks your energy and what generates your energy. Her advice was to make a list, one side to reflect the energy drains in your life and the other to reflect the things that give you energy. My energy drains included stuff like alcohol, little sleep, negative self talk, over analyzing situations and making up conclusions to stories.. Energy givers are things like getting outside, fueling myself properly, yoga/ meditation, good sleep, positive self talk, and a morning routine. Understanding what types of things drain your energy is a great first step because you can choose to eliminate or reduce those things in your day to day as well as focus on the things that give you energy.
This is something I really struggled with last week. I put off getting outside and moving my body to work on things. And what I realized is that may not be the best thing for me. Getting outside fuels my soul, it gives me time to sort out my thoughts, to step away from the screen (WHICH IS SO IMPORTANT FOR ME). Be sure to find some time in your day to do what you love to do, you will come back so much more refreshed and ready to tackle your day.
2. Make a list of your priorities and rate them from most important - least important - put aside for now.
What needs to be done today? (hint, I am 98% positive that everything on your to-do list doesn’t HAVE to be done today), what can I set aside until tomorrow, next week, next month? Making a to-do list and scheduling out when you are going to work on stuff makes actually doing your list a whole lot easier. I go as far as planning out each hour on my google calendar. Of course stuff changes and I move things around BUT it gives me a great visual of what I should be working on everyday (I do this sooo well for work.. This is something I am working on for my personal life as well).
3. Find a routine that works best for you
Folks, I have been trying my damnedest to get up at 5:30 every day. It’s just not consistent. I am learning that sleep is one of my energy givers, and quite frankly I enjoy my sleep. So I am working on restructuring my day to be the most efficient for me. Try something, if it doesn't work don't be afraid to try something else. Just because someone else is an ecstatic morning person doesn't mean you have to be.
4. Be gentle with yourself.
If there is a day or a few days that you fall off the wagon, IT’S OKAY. (I tend to beat myself up more than I should..). Sometimes you just need to listen to your body and step away from everything. Be nice to yourself when that happens, we are only human and perfect is impossible.
5. Identify your biggest stressors and understand the end goal.
Okay, this is important. Look at your life and find the thing or things that are causing you the most stress. What about it is causing you stress? Why? What can you change to make it less stressful? Can you eliminate it altogether?
Let me give you an example: For me, it’s studying. Man, for those of you who are going to school and working full time PROPS TO YOU. It’s freaken hard and definitely the thing that is causing some burden in my life. HOWEVER, the end goal is something that fuels my fire. Yes, the actual studying sucks but I want the end result. So how can I incorporate it into my life so I don't let it completely stress me out and completely hate the process? If you are uninspired by the end result and just doing it because you feel like you have to maybe it’s time to rethink if it is something you need or if it is something you can delegate to someone else. And if it is the goal that is fueling you, keep it at the forefront of your brain on the days you want to throw your books out of the window.. Ahem, reminder to self.
6. Finally, it’s okay to say no.. and I encourage it.
In fact, practice getting good at saying no because as much as we want to do ALLLL OF THE THINGS it’s impossible to give 100% when we feel completely maxed out. While we don’t like disappointing people, it’s better to say “no, but thank you for thinking of me” (NOTICE HOW I DIDN’T APOLOGIZE) rather than saying yes and then having to say no later or half ass the thing. In the end, when you say yes to too many things you end up either having to put the things you really want to do on the back burner (most likely your energy givers), or left completely drained and exhausted.. Or both. Not good for anyone, especially yourself.
In the end, life is all about moderation and when you find yourself wanting to bang your head against the wall every day, some shifting might need to happen. All of these tips were things I needed to remind myself of as well, so just know it is a constant practice. And if you tried something on this list and it worked for you, pleaseee let me know - I seriously love hearing from you all - it keeps me going!!