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The surprising benefits of being a person who burns out easily

The surprising benefits of being a person who burns out easily
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All work and no play? With stress levels at an all time high, many of us have experienced the devastating effects of burning out. Burnout can crop up in a variety of different forms and it isn’t pretty when it strikes.

When you’re burned out you might feel high levels of stress and anxiety, have low energy and be exhausted, and feel like there’s “never enough time.” You may have increased negative feelings, feel overwhelmed, be irritable, and lack motivation. In severe situations you may even stop taking care of yourself, have trouble focusing, and experience a range of health issues.

But the good news is the exact traits that make you likely to burnout can actually be incredible assets…so long as you keep them in check.

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Learning to harness these strengths without overdoing it is the key to success, or what I like to call leaning in without burning out.

In the 1980s, Dr. Herbert Freudenberger was the first person to describe the syndrome known as burnout. Through his years of work with high-achieving patients, he uncovered the type of person most likely to burnout.

Here are the 4 traits common among those that suffer from burnout.

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1. You’re a goal focused overachiever.

Once you set a goal you’re tenacious about achieving it and nothing can get in your way. You’re capable of moving mountains when you’re focused and have your goal in sight.

2. You can always be counted on to do more than your fair share, no matter how busy you are.

You’re a team player, always thinking about what you can give and how you can help out. No matter how jam packed your schedule is, you always do your part and sometimes even fill in for others.

3. You’re a leader who has a hard time admitting limitations.

You’re effective at rallying the troops, and getting people to see that there is a way and that there is always hope. You rarely think of any challenges as insurmountable, and believe with enough effort you can do whatever you put your mind to.

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4. You push yourself hard and get results.

You know how to keep your eye on the prize and realize that hard work and dedication is required to accomplish anything meaningful.

In order to maximize your strengths and the enormous benefits of being an overachiever vulnerable to burnout, you’ll want to practice these 3 proven methods to add some space into your life and routine.

Here are 3 methods for keeping yourself from the edge of burnout.

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1. Practice meditation and mindfulness so you enjoy the journey and aren’t solely focused on the goal.

Start with a small, but daily, commitment to meditation. If you commit to just one, two, or five minutes each day, you are much more likely to stick with it. There are plenty of free meditation challenges available online to help you get started.

2. Take time to rest and recharge, especially remembering to double down when times are “crazy busy.”

It’s one thing to be in the zone, but if you notice you’re not getting up to get a glass of water, stretch your legs or use the restroom at least once every 90-120 minutes, you are putting unnecessary strain on your body.

When you notice that your schedule is starting to get maxed out, make a point to block off time on your calendar for self-care and treat it like an important meeting that you must attend. Your self-care activity should be rejuvenating, such as going for a hike, taking a bath, getting a massage, cooking a healthy meal for yourself, reading inspirational books, being in nature, taking a yoga class, working with a life coach, etc.

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3. Practice self-compassion, and remember you’re only human.

Self-compassion is being kind and understanding toward yourself when you suffer, fail, or feel inadequate. Practicing self-compassion is proven to boost your willpower so you’ll be more effective and feel great. You can practice self-compassion as a meditation, by thinking of a situation in your life that is difficult, and then saying the following phrases to yourself: “This is a moment of suffering. Everyone struggles, I’m only human. May I be kind to myself. May I give myself the compassion I need.”

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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