dr. Loubna Noureddin is a leadership scientist, executive coach, Civil War survivor, advocate for orphans, author and co-founder of spirit market
It happens again. You wake up to your daily alarm and hit snooze at least twice before forcing yourself out of bed. You feel exhausted, overwhelmed and maybe not so excited about the day ahead.
In a world where an endless to-do list is the order of the day, work days seem constantly demanding and you are faced with social and household expectations, you can feel guilty and like you are not doing enough. Or maybe you feel a little resentment for having done too much, feel constantly rushed, or feel a sense of dread that you carry in silence.
In their book Immunity to Change, authors Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey discussed how the complexity of modern life has surpassed our mental capabilities. We feel drained, but we move forward and try to be on top of work and life.
You may be wondering: am I losing control? Am I mismanaging my time and stress? Am I clear about my priorities? Is my manager not aware of my workload? Why is my to-do list growing by the hour? And the questions raise more and more questions.
This scenario seems to be common in blobs of workplaces. As regards half of health workersfor example, reported feelings of burnout, which may stem from: heavy workload and understaffing, among other things. In addition to health care, Research has found that more than half of workers who have remained at work during the Great Retirement have had to take on greater workloads, and some fear a “Big Burnout†
Yet many work communities overlook the fact that employees don’t feel well. Burnout can affect the employee’s personal health, as well as their motivation and productivity. I’ve noticed that many managers mistakenly associate a feeling of overwhelm and burnout with a lack of loyalty, interest, or care. The winner in these cases is nobody.
What I share is not new. What I’m suggesting is that we each tackle a little bit to overcome the beast. Instead of constant worry, perhaps leaders could find ways to bring more peace into their lives, their relationships, and their challenges at work. Perhaps you can do your due diligence so that others feel comfortable in your presence. Perhaps you could find inner peace.
So, how can you do that?
Stress is a normal biological feeling and is built into our DNA† It is often the result of external factors and/or a demanding lifestyle. For example, feelings of stress can be triggered by increased expectations at home and at work. For many Americans, work is a major source of stress.
To lead a productive life without risking burnout, these steps can help:
1. Paint a large picture.
Bring your goal into your consciousness daily. Spend time each morning setting your intention for the day. Take some time to pause and think about what’s important in all the hustle and bustle. Bring the “then what?” in your consciousness. and write down why it is important that you do what you intend to do. Elevate your why so that you connect what you do with a clear purpose. Find meaning in the midst of the fog. It’s easy to get caught up in the maze of endless meetings. Claim your need to prioritize and focus on what’s important.
2. Clarify your boundaries.
Set your intent to focus on what’s in your control. List everything you’re concerned about — everything — then highlight what’s under your control. Make a sincere commitment to let go of what isn’t under your control. Decide every day what you want to spend your energy on.
Charging is essential for your well-being. Make it your priority. Schedule time out in the calendar to be, not to do. Take the occasional day off to recharge and get back to work without risking burnout.
When I charge, I think about what’s important to me. How can I spend more time on those things? If my daughter is going to college and this is her last summer with us, how can I replenish my energy by spending time with her? We all do things that make sense to us. If I want to spend more time with my family, but I’m completely exhausted by Friday, what can I consciously do to replenish my energy and find my mojo in the things I care about most? How can you do the same?
4. Keep it simple.
If you have a huge to-do list, choose three things to focus on for today – no more, no less. Start working on three tasks and only add a new task when another is completed. It functions. Kanban, a popular lean methodology, uses a similar visual assignment of work items to manage and improve work.
5. Lean on your trusted colleagues.
Reach out and encourage peer support. For example, I’ve been in touch with a group of writers and speakers, and we’ve committed to a daily routine of intentionally writing and supporting each other’s business travels. Your trusted colleagues can be a great emotional and mental support. They can be your thinking partners, inspire you to do things differently or help you see a challenge through a new lens.
6. Start simple.
Too much on your plate? Tackle easy (and important) tasks first. Celebrate what you’ve done to boost your confidence. Beware of tasks that are known, but not important. Put your “not important” in your “maybe in 10 years” folder.
Everyone handles stress differently, but you can’t thrive with a lingering feeling of being overwhelmed. When you sweat the little things, you lose sight of your destination. You cloud your vision and rob your mind and soul of clarity and alignment with a higher purpose. I believe we are what we repeatedly do. You become more grounded – and less shocked – when you align your actions and purpose. Clarity brings peace and tranquility can elevate you to a place of being, not doing. You are so much more than your survival skills, and the days to come will prove it.