Burnout: How to Prevent it and Still Get Things Done

Often times, the solution to burnout is to simply relax and look at the big picture.

The last thing you’d expect to hear from someone who’s written two books on the subject of productivity is to relax more. Yet that’s exactly what productivity wiz Maura Thomas is suggesting.

Thomas has a holistic approach to time and attention management.

Here are Thomas’s Five Tips for Productive Burnout Prevention:

  • Learn How to Prioritize Deadlines

Keep all of the things you need to do on a task list (electronic is best), and prioritize by arbitrary due date. By “arbitrary,” I mean the due date is the date you choose when you say to yourself, “When would I like to have this done, given its relationship to everything else I need to do?” If you’re honest about your capabilities, you’ll have to admit that you’ll likely only accomplish a handful of the tasks on your list in any given day.

  • Eliminate Mental Clutter and Sleep Better

Grab a piece of paper and a pen and try “stream of consciousness” writing. This helps uncover those intellectual gems you know are in there somewhere. Just write whatever comes to you. If we clear our mind of the minutiae, the “good stuff” often appears. This is also a great technique to use before bed if you have trouble sleeping.

  • Achieve Better Life-Work Balance

With technology being ubiquitous, that’s hard to do. But we forget how much control we have over that. For example, if you’re checking your email on a weekend or when you’re on vacation, work isn’t invading your personal life. You’re inviting it in. Also, work benefits from downtime. Even if your love your work, stepping away will improve your performance.

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  • Spend Time Single-Tasking

If you’re always distracted, you’ll get used to being always distracted, and you’ll find yourself bored in the “quiet times.” And as a result, you’ll unintentionally seek out the distraction. Ensure that you have times in your day when you can support your focus. Spend time single-tasking, working on the things that are important to you.

  • Practice Stillness

Instead of trying to pack “doing” into every moment of your day, recognize that sometimes the most productive thing you can do is be still.

Instead of reaching for your phone in any pause of activity – like waiting in line – take a mental break and let your mind wander.

Watch Maura explain how to skyrocket your productivity:

Maura Thomas is an expert in productivity and the author of two books: Personal Productivity Secrets and Work Without Walls. She also regularly contributes to the Harvard Business Review.


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