Do you feel like your life is a constant rush of activity?
Many people nowadays feel worn out. It’s not simply that there’s too much to do. It’s the fact we have too many different types of things to do. This inability to concentrate on one thing at a time means we lose our sense of focus and that calming sense of completion.
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It’s not helped by technology. Are you guilty of frittering away excessive amounts of time on social media and of dealing with work emails at home on a regular basis? All this activity is exhausting. It’s easy to forget that energy is a precious and limited resource.
Energy exhaustion manifests itself in different ways. Do you recognize any of these signs in yourself?
- Feeling overwhelmed by the simplest of requests.
- A tendency to overreact to constructive criticism.
- Constantly feeling exhausted even though you’re getting enough sleep.
- Regularly becoming irritable and impatient with yourself and everyone else.
- Lacking focus and losing the ability to come up with new ideas.
You need to set boundaries.
One way of dealing with this is by setting boundaries around the different parts of your life. Boundaries help you concentrate fully on a single activity and stop you from being distracted by the guilt that comes from thinking, whatever you’re doing at the time, that you should be doing something else.
Understanding the impact that various activities have on your energy levels is a useful part of creating your boundaries. And that means consciously working out where you are spending your energy and observing the effect.
What exhausts you – and what energizes you?
Are there any activities that leave you feeling drained or any situations in work you find particularly exhausting? You also need to recognize the things that help re-energize you. What do you like to do that leaves you feeling calmer and happy – maybe meditation, exercise, reading or going out for a meal with friends? Whenever you feel good about yourself in work or personal situations, take a moment to consider what it is you are doing that is making you feel uplifted.
Use what you have discovered.
Unfortunately you can’t avoid all the activities that leave you feeling worn out. But what you can do is use the information to make sure you are as prepared as possible to deal with situations. You will have a good idea by now of what is draining you – so try to balance it with an activity that will energize you.
For example, you may be dealing with several complex work tasks, a couple of which you’re really struggling with. You find yourself staring at the computer screen with disorganized thoughts and worries running through your mind about all the various tasks you have to complete. You’re not making significant progress on any of them.
Try promising yourself you will focus 100% on one task for an hour or so. Once you’ve done that, you take a five minute break to do something that gives you some energy back (like having a cup of tea or texting a friend). You are then recharged, calmer and better able to carry on with either that task or a new task (again, setting a boundary to make sure you completely focus on it for a set time).
Set boundaries to create better quality family time too.
Whether you work from home or an office, make sure you set a daily cut-off time for business activities. It can vary depending on the volume of work each day but make sure you have one and that it is sensible. Identify time for other important things in your life – like family – and clearly allocate, either in your head or in your diary, when you are going to give them the time they need.
Setting boundaries means you must resist the temptation to check your work phone or email during family time. If that really is a problem, give yourself a five minute period when you are allowed to catch up on anything that is genuinely urgent. Think about the message you are sending out otherwise your time together is continually being interrupted.
Everyone re-energizes in different ways so the good news is that setting boundaries provides the perfect justification for earmarking some time to collapse on the sofa in front of the TV too. Just try to have a couple of slightly healthier re-energizing activities built in as well!
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