If you find it hard to stay alert at work, you’re not alone.
Stressful days and long hours can lead to burnout, or sheer mental and physical exhaustion. What’s worse: Burnout can lead to a lack of motivation and affect job performance.
So, what can you do to avoid burnout while still getting ahead? Take a look at these seven tips.
1. Rise and shine
Sleeping in is something many of us wish we could do daily. However, waking up with the roosters will pave the way for a more productive and stress-free day.
In fact, early risers are more proactive and better positioned for career success than night-owls, according to Harvard Business Review.
Plus, think about how much you’ll accomplish in the wee early hours. You can answer emails, set appointments, check your Twitter feed and do other busy work that will free up time in your day for other tasks. You can also use your morning time to eat a healthy breakfast or even go for a brisk walk – energizing you for the day ahead.
2. Disconnect from technology before bed
We get it: It’s hard to unplug at night. But, if you’re checking your emails late into the night, this can prevent you from getting enough sleep.
When you don’t get sufficient shut-eye, this leads to daytime exhaustion. What does this mean? You won’t function at the top of your game – affecting your productivity and ability to stay focused.
I know this first hand. I’ve been trying to push out a huge product as my company scales and I often can’t stop checking my email right up until midnight. What to do? I put my phone all the way across the room or in another room entirely when I go to bed. This way I actually have to get out of bed to retrieve it and I’m much more likely to let those emails go unanswered until the morning.
3. Schedule breaks throughout your day
Regardless of what type of work you do, it’s important to remain focused so that you don’t waste your time on distractions.
To help you get going, pour your energy into a block of work and then take a 15-minute break. Continue this throughout your day. These breaks will energize you and help prevent burnout, according to Harvard Business Review.
For me, I often work from my home office and take a quick walk around the block with my dogs every couple of hours. This helps break up my work day and gives me time to recharge.
4. Take vacations
In order to truly unplug, it’s a wise idea to get away from work and take a vacation at least once a year. Time away from work helps you re-energize, enabling you to return with renewed focus and passion for your job or side hustle.
In fact, according to a study published in Harvard Business Review, vacations can result in greater productivity at work. Another perk of taking time off? Spending less time at your desk forces you to work more efficiently.
To help you prepare to go on vacation, organize your work ahead of time by creating a master list of tasks with deadlines. Then, set up an out-of-office auto responder message on your email and allocate tasks to someone else in your absence.
Once on vacation, consider only using your phone for emergencies. In fact, while at your destination, you can leave your phone in a hotel room or a safe, or perhaps switch on airplane mode so you can only use it as a camera.
Here’s another suggestion: Go on a yoga or nature retreat with no WiFi. This is something I do twice a year, without a miss. I usually go alone, giving me time to truly clear my mind and return to work recharged.
5. Be Mindful
Ok, we don’t mean you should close your eyes in the middle of a meeting and start focusing on your breath instead.
But, you can build in short bursts of mindful meditation breaks into your work day. Or, just start with a singular five minute meditation. For me, I meditate at night before I go to sleep. Yet, many find that five minutes of meditation immediately upon getting up does the trick. Or, perhaps a short meditation during your lunch break will work best for you.
If you’ve never meditated before, no worries. You can start by downloading an app like Calm or Headspace. These apps give you clear and guided instructions so you can learn to build a little bit of peace into your day.
When do you have time to exercise? Here’s the truth: You probably don’t have time. You’ve got to make the time.
It’s important to add physical fitness into your schedule because a lack of exercise can make you feel run down. Increased exercise, on the other hand, helps reduce anxiety and depression, according to the American Psychological Association.
7. Set boundaries
This is key as your health and sanity depends on declaring an end to your work day and a start to your personal time. This takes discipline and requires setting boundaries.
What if you work for a company that expects you to always be “on” and reply to your emails at all hours of the day? This can lead to a myriad of problems, according to the Academy of Management.
If you find yourself in this situation at work, you may want to have a talk with your direct manager. These days, most employers recognize the importance of work-life balance and will respect you for speaking up.
If you have a side gig, you can set your own boundaries. But even this can be difficult as you may feel the need to respond immediately to a client – even late at night or on a Sunday morning. So, perhaps you will need to draw your own line in the sand by informing your clients of your business hours. Then, stick to those hours and only those hours.
Build in Balance
These seven tips will help you make lifestyle changes to reduce your daily stress. Perhaps you can also incorporate yoga, healthy eating , and other self-care steps into your daily routine.
Regardless of what you do, remember not to let your work life consume your entire life. You worked hard to get to where you are today. You certainly don’t want to lose this momentum by burning out.