By Dr. Karyn

Hello DK Leadership Community!

Learning how to manage our energy and our time is truly an art form!  If we master them – we are balanced, energized and the best version of ourselves. When we don’t, we risk burnout, exhaustion and being the person that no one wants to be around. The stats on this topic are revealing:

Research from Gallup says we are seeing a burnout crisis, with 44% of people reporting they ‘sometimes’ feel burnout, and another 23% of people saying they feel this way ‘often or always’.

Clearly, being in a state of burnout has a major impact on our physical health, productivity and overall happiness, but the good news is that we are not powerless in this fight. Burnout is totally preventable, and I have personally witnessed many people in a state of crisis who have managed to turn their life around by making a few critical changes! 

So what are some easy solutions to get you started on the way back to balance? Here are 3 tips you can share with your team at the office and your family at home, and maybe put them to use for yourself if needed!

Tip #1:     Remember Who Is In Control

This tip may seem like an obvious one, until we actually stop and listen to our own words and the words of those around us. Earlier this month I was at a conference and found myself chatting with some employees who were concerned about managing heavy commitments at work plus their intense family lives (4x / week hockey practices, 3 x / week ballet lessons, 2x / week gymnastics classes, multiplied by their 3 children). I felt exhausted just listening to the complexity and details of their schedules! And what I noticed is that each of these busy parents was speaking as if this schedule had been given to them – and it’s not true!

The truth is that whether they realized it or not, they had chosen these schedules. Think about this – regardless of the pressures we feel (from our kids OR from ourselves) to keep up with what we see other families doing – ultimately we as the parents have control over what we do or don’t do. We are the adults and we can choose to say ‘No’. 

Even in the workforce we may think that our employer has total control, but the truth is that we always have some control over what we choose. We can either choose to say ‘Yes’ to the demands being placed on us, or have the courage (and potentially face the consequences) to tell our employer /manager that their expectations are unrealistic. We can choose to take on the more demanding, high-stress job with more traveling (higher pay), or the lower-stress job (with less pay). We must remember that life is about choices (some with far more attractive outcomes than others, but choices none-the-less).

So it’s important to own our choices and not play the victim.  Sometimes we may find ourselves in a bad situation because of past choices, and even in this scenario there is power in recognizing how we got there. Owning the choice won’t necessarily make us feel less stressed in the moment, but that’s not the point. What it can do is allow you to feel more empowered, and this places you in a far better space for solving the problems you may be faced with, and may also force you to think differently about your current circumstances, and about the future choices you make.

Tip #2:     Identify Your “Big Rocks”

Years ago I learned about a concept called “Big Rocks” – many of you have likely heard of it!  Here is how it works (you can do this as a team building exercise at work or home): First, get a jar, enough sand to fill it half-full, and 3 big rocks (make sure they can fit the jar opening). Next, try putting the sand in first and then adding the rocks. You will likely have a hard time fitting the rocks all the way in. But if you reverse this process – put your 3 big rocks in first, then add the sand around it – it all has room to fit!

The truth is that as humans, we all have a finite amount of energy and time (as represented by the jar) – so it’s crucial to identify our biggest priorities (the rocks) and make room for them first! Ask yourself – what are your top 3 priorities you want to focus on this month or this season? Start with your 3 big rocks and then allow the gaps to become filled with sand (which represents the other items you want to get to – but only if you have time and energy leftover).

Tip #3:     Create Your Strategy Plan

My work, like many of you, has both high & low seasons. Some months are very full with speaking at conferences and events (many of which include traveling). Other seasons are a lot slower. So when I know I’m heading into a busier season – I sit down and create a strategy plan to make sure I’m fully energized, which will increase my effectiveness and reduce my stress. So what’s my plan?  There are 2 basic parts to it:

First, I share with my husband and kids that I will need their help with my chores.  I’ve learned not to give ‘hints’ but to ask directly for what I need them to do. One of my family chores is folding the laundry – and today as I’m writing this, I am so thankful that one of my 11-year-old boys helped me last week by folding the laundry for me – even though I am wearing 2 black socks that are definitely not a matching pair… 🙂 – I think I have to do a little more training!

Second, I focus on my 3 big rocks for self-care and energy management! I’m often asked how I have so much energy in my speaking and presenting – and while it’s true that I am ‘high-energy’, I would emphasize that it is not by accident but rather by design. I’ve learned that MY secret for maximizing my energy and reducing my stress is to focus on these 3 big rocks:

  1. Sleep = I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to rest – I need 8-9 hours of sleep every night. I envy people who can feel energized with 5-6 hrs, but I’ve accepted that this doesn’t work for me. I need to really prioritize my sleep!
  2. Meditation & Gratitude = Starting my day with 45 min. of meditation & gratitude is so refueling and calming, and gives me such a healthy perspective! I started this habit a couple of years ago and it’s been a game-charger for me! (Important to note: my success with this habit depends on prioritizing my sleep habit!)
  3. Organization = I’m an organization geek. I LOVE organization. I love organized homes, office spaces, schedules etc. So I’ve learned that taking the time to get really organized (at work and home) before I head into a busier season really anchors me. And although it sometimes takes some work, I know my family appreciates my organizational needs too, especially when life gets busier!

So what is YOUR strategy plan going to be? What are your big rocks?  The key is to STOP and reflect, then create a plan that will work for YOU! Remember that we are humans, not robots. Taking the time to remember who is in control, focusing on your 3 big rocks, and creating your own strategy plan will INCREASE your energy and productivity, and will REDUCE your stress and risk of burnout!

Your Leadership & Relationship Coach
Dr. Karyn

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