Friday, September 10, 2010

5 ways to beat burnout and stay motivated

Even if you love what you do, you might experience burnout and feel un-motivated at times (trust me, I do). Here are five ways to fight burnout or stop it from happening it in the first place:

1. Accomplish in increments. It's easy to get burned out by the everyday grind when you're just concentrating on a big goal someday. Article author, Jeffrey Tang, likens it to driving toward a mountain in the distance: You can drive for hours, but the mountain doesn't appear to get any closer. So you need to give yourself a way to gauge and record every little step forward you take. You can do this by:

  • Getting a journal, calendar or notebook. Writing things down is key.
  • Determining milestones on the journey to your goal. For instance, if you're writing a book, you could regard each chapter or each 1000 words as a milestone.
  • If the milestones aren't obvious, create them. Tang gives the example of training for a marathon. Instead of starting out at your highest distance, begin at a shorter one and work your way up slowly.
  • Track your milestones in an easy, visual way.

2. Train your muse. According to Tang, inspiration is like any other skill. It might start off unreliable, but it can be trained and cultivated into something you can count on. The best way to train your muse is immersion, surround yourself with things that inspire you and reflect your goals. To become a better writer, I read a lot. I also use vision boards as muses. The more your inspiration becomes a part of your life, the less likely it is to leave when you need it most. So be creative.

3. Work less. Reduce the amount of energy and time you spend working. If you have sick days or vacation days remaining, take advantage of them. If you're self-employed, force yourself to work fewer hours daily-- even if that means declining new projects. Keep in mind that working less doesn't mean you have to slack off or get less done; it does, however, mean that you:

  • Get rid of unnecessary tasks.
  • Take strategic breaks.
  • Stop multitasking.
  • Seek help from others.

4. Define success realistically. There's nothing wrong with having big dreams and ambitions. However, if you're always frustrated by lack of progress, it may be time to step back and analyze your goals. Ask yourself: Are these goals achievable? Are you holding yourself to a practical timeline?

A good way to do this: On a sheet of paper, write your big, ambitious goal. Then write down at least 10 specific, concrete steps that will allow you to accomplish that goal; make sure you're as detailed as possible. If you can't come up with practical steps to get from Point A to Point B, that's a sign that you need to redefine your goals or reconsider they way you're pursuing them.

5. Get more sleep. (I'm a firm believer in this lol). You have to make a conscious decision to get enough sleep, and like any other good habit, it takes time to cultivate.

For seven more tips, check out my source, How to Defeat Burnout and Stay Motivated.

Feel free to share any tips you have below!

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