How to Know When it's Time to Change Your Routine (Burnout Recovery)
Recently, I created a mini post on my Life and Creative Resources (Tumblr account) to address the early stages of burnout, albeit a work related or emotional burnout. I’ll admit, for me, it has been both.
You can read 3 Things to Remember When Dealing with Burnout and can also search #burnout and #dailypost to read some of my journal thoughts during this time.
While many might be handling topics of New Year resolutions and vision boards (and I do have some ideas here to share at another time), I’d like to share how I have initiated a routine change to ease the tension during my burnout season and create space for a new approach to my routine in this upcoming new year, instead.
I was heavily relying on my 2020 routine in 2021. When I thought more about this, it was because it felt safe (and safety is good). At some point though, I had grown weary of “safe” when it was no longer really necessary. I had developed an unease about being out in public and that translated into anything fun and engaging that I would have liked to have done more of. Therefore, my routine supported more of my work-life and those responsibilities in the previous season.
When might you want to consider a routine change?
You are in a burnout season. You’re usually pretty consistent and suddenly you find yourself saying “I can’t do this anymore”, even if you aren’t sure yet what exactly “this” is. Burnout may not necessarily mean you are depressed, but “something” in the current way you are showing up feels depressing in this season.
You have experienced a loss. Any loss, a relationship, job or a passing of a loved one, or even the loss that came from the past few years of dealing with the pandemic can trigger the need to consider how a current routine could be affecting the changes. The pandemic forced many of us into routines just to survive, limiting our engagement outside the home and such things.
You are feeling uninspired or having a hard time getting motivated. Again, you may have been fine with your routine, but lately you can’t seem to feel the enjoyment you once had. Something is definitely missing.
Your current routine reveals that you are pouring out rather than pouring in. In all honesty, looking at what you currently do or don’t do, I can guarantee there are things that don’t include enough of what you’d prefer to do. One question I asked myself was, how many of these activities are pouring IN during this season?
You are wearing a new “hat” or have a new responsibility. You might have started a new business, a job, had a baby or even started a relationship. Gaining a new thing in your life also can be an indicator that a routine needs to change to accommodate the new need!
How to create a new routine that includes what you need to do AND what you want to do.
One of the challenges with creating routines is that there are times when the responsibilities can outweigh and take over our day. Your job, career, and even your family responsibilities, even when it is closely tied to your purpose and skills can still feel like and actually be a lot! You may need a radically different routine or make a few adjustments. The ideas below will help you get started.
Break your day down into categories and give them each a meaningful name. Here are the four that I have chosen for my own routine update: Self-Health & Healing, Freelancer Focus, Passion Focus, Home Management Focus. The most important thing is that your categories represent the things you’d like to be doing as well as the things you know you need to do.
Break your day down into each of these categories and give them each a few consistent actions that target what you want to focus on. For example, my Self-Health & Healing happens in the morning hours at the beginning of my day, and these are some of the action ideas: Writing journal pages, meditation, dance step practice, breakfast etc.
Assign your categories a reasonable and flexible timeframe.
This might be very different for those who work outside the home so my tip here is to take all your designated breaks and use these timeframes to focus on self-healing, reflection and eating well during your break. Working from home, I personally alternate a few categories. For example, my Freelancer (or work) Focus is in two parts of my day. I focus on it in the morning and come back to it in the afternoon to close out any follow-ups. It’s O.K. to break up a category!
Create an end of the day rest prep time frame. This could very well be a category in itself. In my routine, I have added things like reading a book, even if it’s just 10 minutes and I have also added back dance step practice (15 minutes) because I enjoy dance and at times it is also very relaxing and the whole point of creating the new routine is to also highlight things you want to do more of!
It might seem like your entire day is full of things after you are done. The difference is that now, you no longer have to think about what to do or focus on next. When you feel moments of anxiety, panic or overwhelm, refer to your new routine for guidance and choose to focus on ONLY those selected actions in that part of your new routine.
If the changes are radically different, it may take you a few weeks to adjust, especially if you have created your new routine in and around a holiday season. #me :)
You may not get to all the focus points every time and that’s O.K.
Keep the schedule with you and carry with you wherever you go.
The act of creating a new routine and viewing it often is also a step in the process.
Experiment with creating a slightly different routine for your weekends or on days you are off from work.
For additional routine suggestions, you can also read 10 Ideas to Bring Calm, Consistency & Routine into Your Life.