How to Get More Done Without Burning Out (My Personal Routine)
I'm so excited to share I had an epiphany this week!
This little breakthrough happened when I was working on positioning my services and products. I kept asking myself "but what is so special about me and what I teach?" and the answer came from the intersection of what I do best + what I personally love and practice!
This is what my breakthrough moment looked like!
Maya, how is that a breakthrough?
Because it gave me the mental freedom to chat with you about a broader range of tools, practices, and ideas that could help you live up to your potential.
(Career and life, Career+, Peak Performance... I'm still working on the details).
Take this question from Katherine as an example:
So, how do I get so much done without burning out or working 24/7?
Well, I tried working 24/7 (not sustainable) and burned out.
Out of that pain came the realization that something had to change. I figured there must be a better way to manage my time without having to compromise on achieving my goals.
Below is the process I've been using for the past few years, but it is still a work in progress. Feel free to steal what you like and make it your own.
The three components of my process:
2. Time blocking
(You knew mindset will be in here...everything starts with your mindset)
Let's dive in:
I am a creature of habit. I love planning and knowing exactly what's going to happen because it makes me feel like I'm in control, and have the power to manage my life.
That means almost EVERYTHING I do is part of a routine. It also means that on any given day you can ping me at a certain time and know exactly what I'm doing (try me).
I know for some people, this probably sounds like their worst nightmare. For me, this is the best way to simplify my life, get my thoughts in order, and feel less stressed.
This is what my life looks like (in a nutshell):
6:15-7:15 Workout. Yoga or running.
7:15-8:00 Shower and get ready
(*we just installed an Alexa in our shower so we can listen to music in the morning when we get ready. It's a game-changer!)
8:00 - 8:45 Make breakfast, grab coffee with my husband and play Wordle.
(*we rotate between 3 types of breakfast, no surprises, we know what we eat)
9:00 -12:30 Work (more on that later)
12:30 - 1:00 Lunch with my husband
(*we buy prepared meals from Factor - so we just need to heat up our food and dive in. Yummy and healthy + I don't need to think about what to make)
1:00 - 3:30 Work
3:30 - A coffee break with a sweet treat
(*we rotate between 2-3 healthy snacks. I'm into dates with almond butter right now)
4:00 -6:30 Work
6:30 - 7:30 Make dinner, listen to a podcast or audiobook while cooking
(*we rotate a few types of meals like beetroot quiche, scrambled eggs, loaded sweet potatoes etc. I buy the ingredients for the whole week in advance, so I know exactly what I'm making).
7:30 - 8:30 Dinner
8:30 - 10:00 Clean up, watch TV, read a book and go to bed.
The only exception is Sunday, where we sleep in, go grab brunch outside, run some errands or hang out somewhere fun.
Most of these things are also on my calendar.
Important to note that this is the ideal routine for me in this season of life. I tried different things like waking up at 5:00 am to journal (no good) or working out at night but it wasn't for me. What I try to optimize for, is keeping my energy levels high or steady throughout the day. I like starting slowly to reduce stress and feel in control of my day. I need scheduled breaks to regain energy and I love not having to think about any of these, because it's all on autopilot.
2. Time blocking
For the longest time, I managed my tasks through my inbox. I would check it a few times a day and try to prioritize what I should work on next in my head. That was...not great. Every time I looked at my inbox I had 7 new emails to respond to and I got distracted.
In an attempt to increase my productivity I tried every task management app you can think of, but I couldn't create the habit of using an app. I preferred a notebook (I still do). The problem was, even with all my tasks written in my notebook it was still hard to prioritize and commit. I started every morning by staring at that piece of paper and running a million scenarios in my head.
That's when I discovered time blocking. The simple act of intentionally blocking time to work on specific tasks completely changed how I work.
Here's what my process looks like now:
Once or twice a week I spend 10 min blocking time on my calendar for the next 3 days.
I look at my task list (the one in the notebook), make sure it is up to date, and then schedule a time to work on my top tasks.
I estimate how long it would take me to work on something and create a block for it.
This week I'm working on a new masterclass (a free one!) so I blocked time for creating a landing page, writing social media content, and an email announcement.
Networking has a block (15 min every day, 3 connections)
My workout time has its own block.
Lunch has its own block.
Date night has its own block.
I'm sure you've heard of time blocking before, that's not new. But, time blocking doesn't work if you don't respect the blocks. During my corporate days, it was hard to protect my work time and breaks. When you are part of a team and a corporation you have to make compromises and be more flexible. BUT that doesn't mean you have to give up all of your time. Here are a few things that helped me set some boundaries:
1. No meeting day/half day. This practice made the biggest difference. I blocked off 9:00 - 1:00 every Wednesday and nothing short of a life and death emergency could make me budge. The first few weeks were the hardest, people tried scheduling over my work time so I kept declining meetings. Eventually, it worked. My colleagues and team members learned to respect my time... and so did I.
2. Global call days. I worked for global companies for the majority of my career. That meant I had to jump on calls around the clock... from 1:00 am to 10:00 pm. Occasionally, it's okay to make an exception, but it is not sustainable to work and live this way. That's why I instituted "global call days". Those were designated days on my calendar where the early hours of the morning or late hours of the evening were open for scheduling. Those days I either started my day late or ended it early after starting my day at 7:00 am. Once again, it took some practice. I had to push back and reschedule a few times but eventually, it became a thing.
3. DNS and mild threats. I found that it was easier for people to schedule over something they didn't consider important. So I made sure my blocks said DNS: DO NOT SCHEDULE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES (yes, in all caps). It was the meeting name + it was in the description. Funny enough it kind of worked. People started reaching out to ask if they could schedule over my time block instead of just doing it.
Bottom line: respect the blocks.
I can write another email just about managing your mindset for productivity, but let me share what I do when I'm having a bad day, which is when you need to manage your mindset the most.
A bad day can mean you have low energy, you are stressed, anxious, don't feel like doing anything, you are procrastinating and overall don't feel 100%. We all have these days. We are human. Here's what I usually do:
Be kind to myself. I remind myself it's okay not to operate at full capacity all the time. I can take a day off for no reason at all and spend it watching Downton Abbey (yep, I did that).
Change my state. When I need to change perspective I start with changing my physical state. I go for a walk, take an online yoga class, dance around to my favorite music...whatever gets me out of my own head and away from my thoughts.
Reinforce my why. I constantly remind myself why I am doing what I'm doing. My goal, my mission, my dream. Instead of focusing on the current (frustrating) present, I imagine the future and let that motivate me.
Do one small thing. Instead of looking at my to-do list and feeling overwhelmed, I focus on accomplishing one thing before the end of the day. Even if that one thing is doing laundry. The sense of direction and accomplishment of doing just one thing makes me feel less guilty for "wasting" a day.
If you want a few more ideas listen to this episode from Rob Dial, one of my new favorite people to follow aptly called "how to not have a shitty day".
So... this is my life. You just got a sneak peek into my world, how I think and operate.
As always, I'm here for you and I'm rooting for you.
Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:
1. Accelerate your career growth with the 3-step success formula - enroll here.
2. Design a career and life that you love with my live course - check availability here.
3. Work 1:1 with me to get unstuck and level up your career (3 & 6 months packages).