Friend, I messed up. I let myself get burnt out. I let my projects take priority over my people and myself. This is what's happened over the last year: my husband, Gabe, and I both have worked four days a week at our day jobs. In the evenings and on our days off, if there were no events to attend, we would work on our own projects until about midnight, and if we could squeeze it in, we would clean the house and take care of errands. At best we would find 1 - 2 hour pockets alone to relax and enjoy being with each other.
This is not a sustainable lifestyle. At some point we were bound to deplete our personal resources of effort and energy. For me, this happened about two weeks ago. I was trying to write a blog post on simple and sustainable halloween costume ideas to add to part one and part two from last year and my brain would not let me do it. I felt as if someone had slowly been sucking the joy and ambition from me and that I had finally run dry with nothing left to give. Even on such a fun topic!
I had become my own worst boss, never allowing for complete days off to rest and rejuvenate my spirit and mind. Never allowing myself the time to learn from other people and refresh my ideas and perspective. Just telling myself "produce, produce, produce because that's all you have time for."
Even when I tried to squeeze some content out a week later after the initial crash, I didn't have the mental energy to complete it. What happened was like the result of an un-balanced and extreme diet. I got tired of cutting myself off from all things that brought me joy, simply gave up and lost all motivation and productivity. For the past two weeks, outside of my day job, I've basically been binging on all of the things that my soul had been craving for maybe a year.
To avoid this burnout in the future, I'm writing myself some advice to follow going forward that I think will help me live a more fulfilling, healthy, creative and productive life.
1. Make a clear schedule for yourself with realistic and rigid deadlines
I had rigid deadlines, but not a clear schedule that showed me exactly how I would meet those deadlines and in how much time. This has led to many late nights because I would get distracted with other tasks during the day or accidentally attend too many events during the week. When I was full-time freelancing, I kept a very organized and detailed planner in order to meet clients' deadlines and it worked. I need to re-instate that for my own deadlines.
2. Schedule sweet, restful days with your loved one to do whatever you feel like doing
There has been a great lack of these days in my life for the past year or two. Right now, Gabe and I only have one day off together and it usually gets filled with good things like friends, errands and exercising. These are important but I think it is equally imperative to schedule days where we just get to catch up, rest, and explore with each other.
3. Do strange things
Make time to do things that you haven't done yet or don't normally do. Things that seem scary, out of your ability and even child-like. Even just doing a few of those in the past couple weeks has totally refreshed my soul and given me new passion and inspiration for living. I understand again why I am alive and what is so interesting about the world.
4. Connect with new people and new ideas
Make time to learn and grow and dive into a network, website, resource, or book that you've been wanting to study. When you are doing those previously-mentioned strange things, look for other people around you and start a conversation. See where it takes you, what you can learn from them and how you can open your mind even further.
5. Make something with your hands
There is something magical about making something with your own hands. It gives you a renewed confidence in your mind's ability to conceive an idea and your body's ability to carry out that idea and make it a reality.
6. Don't be afraid to spend a little money
If some of these things require a little money, don't be afraid to spend it. I say this because I am a very frugal person and tend to not do anything fun because it might cost $20 and "isn't necessary." After experiencing burnout, I think that spending a little money here and there on the things that enhance your health and nurture your relationships is neccesary.