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  • Writer's pictureDillan Taylor

What I do when I burn out



I burnt out super hard last year. My roommate was concerned as I spent consecutive days in bed. I felt all the cliche descriptions of burnout:

  • fatigue/exhaustion regardless of how much I slept

  • aversion to all tasks or work

  • complete lack of motivation to talk to anyone or do anything

It was terrifying.


I'm a person who gets energized by his work. I love what I do. I crave conversations with others. I hate staying in bed longer than necessary.


So when that happened, I canceled all my calls, borrowed my friend's dog, and ran away to a cabin in the woods. I didn't look at my phone. I didn't know what time it was. I just read and went on nature walks with Hank (said dog).


The love of my life I mean Hank.

After my weekend getaway, I made some changes to my weekly workflow.

  1. No more coaching sessions on weekends.

  2. Way more empty space in my schedule.

  3. Cut my task list in half.

It worked wonders.


Since then, I've been afraid of falling back into that space. It's made me wary of overdoing it.


 

I just overdid it.


This has been a summer of little to no friend time. It's been a grinding season where I've been solely focused on work, my health, and family time. So far, that's exactly what I've been doing.


But the workload has been intense and, as I would find out, unsustainable.


This past week, I avoided everything that didn't require meeting with another person: writing this blog, writing my book, working on the podcast, and reaching out to people for my retreat.


I showed up to my sessions and connect calls, and that's it. Everything else got sheepishly dropped.


On Tuesday (two days ago), I felt exactly how I felt last year. Unmotivated to get out of bed. Dreading any and all to-dos. Wanting to spend a full day sitting next to a lake, reading, and smoking a cigar.


It's going to happen again, I thought.


I told my girlfriend how I was feeling. She called me immediately.


After a soothing and supportive chat with her, a 20-minute walk outside, and some nutritious food...I was feeling noticeably better.


Yesterday I had my monthly call with my good buddy and fellow coach. We typically share what we're going through and exchange thoughts and questions to help each other out.


I shared my project list:

  • coaching

  • the podcast

  • the blog

  • the book

  • my new card game

  • the men's retreat I'm building

  • helping my mentor with content

  • posting on Twitter

Even listing these things made me tired.


So he asked a brilliant question.


"Gun to your head. If you had to let one of these things go right now, which would it be?"


"Great question," I replied. "I'm shocked by this answer but it's what came up...I would take a break from the podcast for now. My goal should be to publish this damn book and launch this game before the summer ends and I fly back down to South America."


"How good does that feel?" he asked. My shoulders dropped from my ears for the first time in weeks.


 

As someone who loves working on new projects, adding things to my plate can feel like an addiction.


A few months will go by and I'll suddenly realize I'm in the weeds and no single human being could possibly accomplish all of this well or on time.


So when this happens, here's what I do.


1) Immediately talk to someone I trust.


The longer I keep this underground, the more it feels like I have to hide. Calling it out right away forces me not to take this on alone.


Now there's at least one person who will check in on me. She'll encourage me to rest and make changes. She'll ask me how I'm feeling.


2) Go somewhere (preferably outside) without my phone.


The mind is not designed to be online and reachable by the world all the time. So I disconnect.


It's shocking how much our mental health improves after just 30 minutes of being off the grid.


3) Let go of projects and tasks.


If it feels like I'm working hard and I still can't get everything done sustainably, then working harder or simply isn't a solution. I need more leverage, not more effort.


I have to change the input/output ratio. That comes from making sacrifices and letting go of specific pursuits.


My thumbnail artist is repairing his laptop for 3-4 weeks. I'm going to use this time to completely take a break from the podcast.


All of that time will go into getting this book finished and my money-making projects.


By just doing these three steps in these three days, I feel like my energetic and inspired self again.


 

When was the last time you burnt out? What did you do about it?


Email me and let me know.

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