Most of us, at the end of the year, take some time for rest. Time to slow down, to think about and plan for the next year. But here's what I know – one or even two weeks off to break from your day job won't restore you if you're completely exhausted.
[Tweet “A week off from work won't restore the effects of a year of exhaustion.”]
Most of wait until it's too late to realize that burn out can't be solved by a week's vacation at some beach resort.
So what do I mean by rest? Well, it's an acronym.
R is for Reflection
At the end of each week, I think it's critical to look back and ask, in what ways did I make good decisions about my time and in what ways did I waste my time. The saying is, “time is money,” and if it's true, then you wouldn't spend money without reflecting on your investment strategy, right?
So when I say it's time for rest, everything starts with a new habit. The habit of reflection. You can quickly find certain meetings that could be turned into emails. Or you might decide that you can delegate a meeting to someone on your team.
I don't know what will result from your reflection, but I know what will happen if you don't reflect – you'll be just as exhausted next year at this time.
E is for Energy
In the REST acronym, the E is for energy. You may not agree, but I find that my energy is even more important than my time. I know when I have high energy and what parts of my day are low energy. And I use that info to help me plan where I place meetings.
I may have 24 hours in a day, but I don't have 24 hours of high energy. So I have to manage my energy with even more diligence than my time.
My favorite author on this is my buddy Carey, and he's recently published a book on all this that can help you.
S is for Strategy
A while ago I wrote about alignment. That post was about lead generation, but the main point in there, as I introduced you to a company you may not have known about, was that everything was about alignment.
You might be wondering why I'm talking about alignment when S is for strategy. Well, it's my belief that a big part of managing your time, energy and strategy to keep you from burning out, is alignment.
So here's the question – are you clear about your goals / objectives? Do you have clear strategies that dictate how you're going to go after them? And are those strategies creating greater alignment for you?
Every quarter you should be able to reflect on your strategies – making sure that there's good alignment between them and that the energy you're putting into your efforts is paying greater dividends than if you didn't have alignment in your life.
I'll tell you my strategy for this in a second, after I wrap up the T.
T is for Timeboxing
The T in REST is for timeboxing. You know it's time for rest when you look back on your calendar and realize you worked 80 hours last week. And if that wasn't a singular exercise (meaning, you worked crazy hours most weeks this past year), you likely have your schedule running you, rather than you running your schedule.
That's what timeboxing is all about. It's the process where you define how much time you'll give an effort, and you box that in. So if you are only going to spend 90 minutes on email today, you control when you do it, and for how long, but you're in charge. Anything you don't get to today, you'll tackle tomorrow, in the 90 minute block you have tomorrow.
Right away you'll see how this can protect your schedule from super long days. You're simply locking in your values in a schedule that limits how long you work on things (phone calls, meetings, email, creative effort, etc.).
Making The Most Of Your Time
I promised I would share with you my little alignment trick. So here it is. When I learn something new, or invest in learning something new, it has to meet one specific criteria. Here it is.
I have to be able to leverage the effort in 4 directions.
Imagine I am given a book recommendation. It covers an interesting topic. And it's an author I like. But here are my questions:
- Will it help me better in my family?
- Will it help me better at work?
- Will it help me be a better friend?
- Will it help me with my coaching clients?
- Will it help me as a public speaker?
- Will it help me in my writing?
If the answer is yes for at least four of these, then it's worth doing. Because a single activity will pay dividends in four places. If not, then the alignment isn't there and it's a “nice to do” but not an “essential to do” kind of effort.
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