During the day, have you suddenly felt out of breath? Have you felt that you are constantly working but your tasks are not ending? Do you feel you need more hours in a day because the day is almost ending, but your work is not? If you do then, you should take a moment to reflect on what you are actually doing that is making you feel this way. This is a sign that you are working too hard, and your burnout is close.
Trust me, I have felt this way. I am sure immigrants, people of color, and especially women will know what I am implying. I have felt at times that I have worked thrice as much and that is just for simple validation. Let’s not forget that in some cases, women do not even have equal pay though they provide similar contributions. What is worse is that when you keep having to prove yourself, over and over again, then comes the boss who suddenly acts concerned about your time management.
I am sure there are bosses who are genuinely concerned, but also there are bosses who are just not. If a boss was actually concerned about your work-life balance or your time management, in the first place, they would not put those doubts in yourself that you feel you need to remove. This is a manipulation. Many of us keep taking on more work than we can even complete, and in the end find ourselves at the bottom of an endless abyss of undone chores, meetings, and the list goes on.
Issues like this arise more when a skilled immigrant’s work is on a visa. When we keep taking on work, constantly hustling, and then some unruly (somewhat supremacist) colleague decides to dump their part as well on that skilled immigrant exploiting their visa situation, especially when that unruly supremacist colleague is also a pet of your boss, how do you say no? You think twice of course, and then you do as the others want.
Let me tell you this. The hours in a day will not increase, and neither will the days in a week. You have to know what your priority is. You have to know that when all is said and done, and you are stuck in a rainy day, it will be your loved ones being by your side. This is something we sometimes forget, i.e. to prioritize our partners, and children, instead of expecting them to compromise. In the end, when your time is going to end, you are going to reflect on your fond memories with them. So, don’t let life get in the way, and keep making more of them that you can smile on in your later life. Remember spending time with loved ones is a vital part of growth and development. I will be sharing some freebies and the digital planning tools in the end of this article.
Now that’s where the issue comes in when you cannot really make time for them because you find yourself constantly taking rain checks on your friends and family. It is not because you are selfish, but it is actually because you are exhausted, emotionally, and physically, and that is a bad sign. Maybe, it is time for you to reflect. Are you overworking? Are you being exploited? If any of your answers are yes, it is time to have a chat with your boss or even yourself if you are a freelancer or an entrepreneur and have a balanced work-life.
You have to voice out your worries, no matter how scary your boss can be, or what your life’s situation can be like because when your body will force you to take a rest, you will be paying a good amount of medical bills. Now we don’t want that, do we? It is very harmful to your body, and that’s why this phrase exists, “All work, no play, makes Jack a dull boy”. You will find yourself to be depressed, and bored which will definitely impact how you work, how your flow is, and your overall mood. Everything takes longer and feels like a burden when you are not feeling good about your day. It gets worse as that bad day extends to a week, and a month. So, let's get some pointers on how to handle that.
Do you plan out your day ahead? I overcame this by planning out my entire week ahead. I suffer from overthinking, and anxiety, so I make a To-Do list of each day the night before. This helps me stay on track, be on top of things and also know if I have an hour or two to spare for an extra workload. Most importantly, I make sure that I have around two hours at least a day to completely spend time with my children. During that time, put your phone in another room. When your phone is right in front of you, you get more inclined to check on your phone, keep scrolling on social media, or reply to your friends instead of actually spending time being present.
Another thing I realized is that I tend to work better if I do not start my day by checking my notifications. This one can exhaust your creative energy as you keep responding to others instead of focusing on starting your day. Try to have coffee, and have your breakfast, check your To-Do List, and start with your priority. Start responding to others’ emails when you feel that you have started your day.
Have you heard of Pomodoro Technique? The Pomodoro technique is very useful when you are doing deep work during your day. The suggested intervals are 25,30, and 40. During this deep work, turn off your notifications, outline a small objective you want to achieve during the timeframe and after completing it, take a small break. Generally, I take a 25-minute deep work with a 10-minute break in between. When you are doing the deep work, make your work screen full screen so you do not see those tempting little app icons that will show a notification that you would be very inclined to see. This disrupts your workflow and makes you take longer than you are supposed to, to complete your broken-down goals for the day.
During the weekend, you can plan the upcoming week’s goals, so you know your priorities and work on them first. Make sure to have some fun during your weekend. At least take a complete day off. Even if you just want to sit home, binge-watch, and order in. This will just make you reenergized and refreshed. You will be able to focus better.
One important thing to note is while planning, some of us tend to put unrealistic expectations of ourselves. We are humans and there is a 24-hour time frame in a day. Consider eating, using the washroom, time to commute, and normal human behavior and speed. If you put unrealistic goals and expectations, you will not be able to complete whatever you jotted down anyway, and as the day will draw near to the end, you will find yourself awfully bothered because you feel unproductive. You should not try to over-achieve as it will drain you and make you affect your mood. You should keep a realistic goal mindset and always remember the necessity of having fun.
I hope this was useful and remember proper planning will reduce your anxiety and overthinking issues. I hope the techniques I mentioned help you out in our Life VS. Stress battle. I am just someone who is like you, trying to put one block after another and contribute in my own way.
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From Coffee with Rayana Series.