workplaceYou can’t go to another meeting.

You’re tired.

You’re bored.

You want something more exciting to work on.

You want your job to be more meaningful.

You might say, “I’m completely burnt out!” But are you? Or is there something else going on?

True burnout comes from working hard and ending up with these four conditions:

  1. Compelling results: You’re achieving your big goals.
  2. Constant completion: Your work can be B- because you’re more focused on getting it done than getting it perfect.
  3. Taxing work: Your goals are on the other side of big obstacles and you have to push yourself hard to accomplish them.
  4. Misery despite growth: You’re not enjoying the journey of building new skills or achieving great things. Growth and comfort don’t coexist for you.

Does that sound like you? Are you really burnt out?

Or are you overwhelmed?

Here’s what overwhelm looks like:

  1. Stressful thinking: Your thoughts are playing a “worry” soundtrack on repeat.
  2. Scarcity mindset: You’re held back by feelings of perfectionism or FOMO, you think something better is “over there,” and your expectations are unrealistic.
  3. Busyness: You have a never-ending to-do list and your brain feels like it’s in a constant state of emergency. You’re just reacting instead of taking decisive action.

Overwhelm is confusion about what to do. When you’re overwhelmed, you have low productivity, you procrastinate, and you have an “I’m so busy” feeling and attitude.

Overwhelm can be caused by a mismanaged brain. Most people don’t want to work hard. Their brains tell them to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and do things that are easy.

How to Solve Overwhelm

The answer is to plan more, plan more and do more, do more. Create results. Can you list what you accomplished? That’s different from saying what you did. Sometimes we “do” all day but don’t get anything done.

In order to plan more and manage your brain so it’s not just seeking the easy route, you need to use your prefrontal cortex. This is the part of your brain that prioritizes tasks and keeps you focused. The more you plan from this part of your brain, the more you’ll get done, and the less energy you’ll waste.

The easiest way to put the prefrontal cortex in the driver’s seat is to make a super prescriptive time-management plan that’s spelled out on your calendar.

Step 1

Block out time to work on your mind-management strategies, either on your own or with a coach. [click here work with me]

Step 2

Block out your “me” time. What do you need in order to replenish yourself and have good focus and energy? Exercise? Meditation? Listening to music you love?

Step 3

Block out your errand time. Doing laundry and buying groceries might not feel like the most important tasks, but they have to get done. Make time for them so they don’t steal time from other parts of your life.

Step 4

Block out your social time. How often do you want to hang out with friends or see your family?

Then, all I ask is that you honor this plan! Honor it to the best of your ability, shooting for at least 80% of your time being on track.

When you block out all these types of time, you can stay laser focused on work and feel refreshed because you’re not spinning in overwhelm. You know that everything that needs to happen has a time allotted to it.

Bonus: If you find that you’re never finishing certain tasks in their blocks of time, that tells you that you need a better system. Look for ways to make tasks more efficient. Can you pay your bills while waiting for the laundry cycle to end? Combine social time with running errands by inviting a friend along to hit the bank and the grocery store. Make exercise more social by joining a class or planning a group hike.

Remember, when you don’t have enough space to think or prioritize goals, you are going to feel burnt out.

But if that burnt-out feeling is accompanied by a list of to-do’s instead of a list of accomplishments, it usually means you’re in overwhelm.

If you want help managing your time and feeling more energized, sign up for a strategy session today! [click here to get free mini-session]

Image by Breather, Unsplash