While serving as the Director of Mental Training for the St Louis Cardinals,Dr. Jason Selk helped the team win their first World Series in over 20 years, and in 2011 he assisted the Cardinals in the historic feat of winning their second World Championship in a six year period. Considered to be one of the world’s premier performance coaches, Dr. Selk helps well-known professional and Olympic athletes, as well as Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 executives and organizations, develop the mental toughness necessary for high-level success. In this article for Inc.com, Dr. Selk explains how to avoid burnout:
As a performance coach, I hear time and time again that, “I just feel burnt out.” Nothing kills momentum more than taking time to reorient yourself after you experience burnout. The highly successful can’t afford to let burnout affect their daily routine. If you allow yourself to get burnt out, you are letting your job run you, rather than the other way around. Take these three steps to regain control of your momentum and gain the edge:
Teach others how to treat you.
One of the biggest excuses I hear from clients for why they are unable to complete certain goals is that other people constantly interrupt them or pull them in another direction. If you allow others to break your focus, they will learn that they can continue to do so. Set time in your calendar specifically for taking care of distractions that arise throughout the day. I recommend two 30-minute time blocks. I call these “catch alls.” Use these to return phone calls, emails, texts and deal with any other unforeseen issues that pop up in your day. Inform your assistant/co-workers/etc. that you have blocked this time and will get to their needs during those time periods.
You may worry that you might miss an important issue that arises, but I have rarely encountered a problem that couldn’t wait an hour or two. Now, it is up to you to use this time most effectively. I recommend setting your first “catch all” time block in the late morning and the second in the late afternoon. If there is no one to get back to during those times, you can use them for moving ahead on projects that have been put aside.
Maximize, don’t manage your time.
Time management teaches people how to do more with the time they have. Time maximization teaches people how to actually create more time. Time management is not enough for the highly successful. High achievers have learned to maximize their time and literally create more time in their day. Each day, we have a significant amount of short time blocks that become wasted if we do not learn to recognize them. A client is five minutes late; a meeting runs 12 minutes short; you arrive to your appointment 10 minutes early.
The first step to maximizing your time is to identify in minutes how much time during the workday is acceptable to waste. I have found that generally speaking people wanting to make 100 thousand dollars per year are comfortable wasting up to 20 minutes at a time if it presents itself throughout their day. People in the half million dollar salary range are comfortable wasting 10 minute periods of time during their day. Million dollar income earners only allow three-minute periods to be wasted. Take some time to identify what your time maximization for wasted time expectation is. Once you have identified what you can accomplish in shorter time blocks, you will be well on your way to maximizing your time.
Always pursue improvement.
When a person learns to recognize improvement over perfection, progress accelerates. A common way to become discouraged and burnt out is to allow yourself to remain stagnant. When you are not working toward something new, it is easy to feel bored and question why you enjoy what you do. Gain the edge over your competition by always pursuing improvement. The highly successful maintain an obsession with improvement. Train your mind to have a relentless improvement focus by asking yourself the following two questions every day:
1. What is one thing I want to improve tomorrow? Only allow yourself to list one improvement. Research shows that we are more effective when we focus on one thing, rather than trying to do too much.
For example: “Be clearer when discussing new investment opportunities with my clients.”
2. What is one thing I can do that could help make the above improvement? Be as specific as possible, and just focus on a small process or task you can accomplish the next day that could put you on the right path to improvement.
For example: “Take two minutes before each client phone call tomorrow to script the important points of my investment advice.”
YOU are in control of your schedule, time, and productivity. Recognizing this is an important first step in avoiding burnout and gaining the edge over your competition.