Working To The Point Of Exhaustion

As an avid reader of this blog, you’ll know that I place an extremely high value on working hard.  In fact, the whole underlying premise of being a Casual Marketer is that you’re taking on building a business as a side hustle project, so hard work isn’t a “nice to have” quality, it’s a requirement.

In fact, if you’re not willing to put that work in, I’m the first person to tell you that you shouldn’t even bother starting down this path because you will undoubtedly fail.  When you’re busy with a job or running the household and looking after the kids, the one major investment you’ve got to make if you want success is putting in the effort.

But occasionally there’s a downside to that – you can literally work yourself to the point of exhaustion and that’s where I’m at right now.

Work has gotten very hectic, I’ve been tossed into a couple big projects that are going to not only require considerable focus but probably some regular interstate travel over the next couple months.

Then there’s been the whole house move thing.  This was an unavoidable disruption, but it was physically and mentally draining.  I can’t ever remember moving before where I was this physically drained at the end.  Maybe I’m getting a bit older and for sure we collected a ton of extra crap, but this move was just painful in every way imaginable.

Then there are the businesses.  In amongst all of this, there are still people counting on you to deliver and do what they need you to do.  Candidly, this has been the hardest bit because we’ve struggled with our internet connection since moving and that’s been that one thing that pushes you over the edge into “I don’t give a crap anymore” land.

In amongst that I’ve been sick with the flu on two different occasions in the last four or five weeks and right now again I’m congested, sniffly and I have a cough.  That’s not helping at all because I just want to sleep, but every single day for the past couple weeks it’s been one thing or another requiring me to do stuff.

I’ve reached that point where I’ve now had enough.  I’m so physically drained that mentally, I can only be sharp for short bursts and then my brain turns off.

Basically, I’m just physically and mentally exhausted.

Now, this isn’t a “boo hoo, woe is me” type post because those are just excuses for losers and that’s not what we’re about, so let’s turn this into something positive.

Here’s what I’m doing to get over this current bout of exhaustion.

First things first, starting tomorrow, I’m cutting back on the things I’m doing personally for the next few weeks until I recover.  That’s not just in the business, but also around the house and even at work – I’m just going to do less.  Things can wait a bit longer to get my attention and I’m going to prioritise things more stringently.

Next up, I’m going to go to bed a bit earlier in the evenings and try to get an extra hour or two worth of sleep a night.  Since getting the CPAP machine a few years ago I’m able to get by on five or six hours of sleep if I have to.  To compensate for all the stuff I have going on right now I’ve been staying up later and later to get more done and depending on that ability to function on less sleep.  That’s catching up with me right now, so tonight, for example, the plan is to get nine solid hours.

I’m also going to take more walks during the day.  When you’re working in an office, it’s very easy to get into the routine of getting in at 9am, working until 10:30am, going down to the cafe for a coffee, then at 1pm shooting across the road for a sandwich and then working through the rest of the day before heading home at 5:30pm (which is now dark outside here in Sydney).  You spend zero time really stretching your legs or getting any sun.  Today, I went for a half hour walk at 10:30am in the sunshine and it was really refreshing.  I’m going to find time to do that every day for the next week or so.

As part of my recovery program, some people are just going to get told “no”.  I have a good work rate, so it’s not often that I have to knock things back, but for right now, I’m going to have to just plan to do less and people are going to have to deal with that.  I actually don’t even have a problem saying “no” to people, it’s just never been something I have to do very much, but for now, it’s going to need to become part of my vocabulary.

And the last thing is, go easier on myself.  Like a lot of people, I’m a pretty hard taskmaster for myself.  I drive myself really hard and set high expectations.  That’s an important part of who I am and it helps me achieve what I want to achieve, but the truth is, at times like this I just need to cut myself a break.  I need to realise it’s ok to sit down for a day on the weekend and binge-watch the new season of “Orange is the New Black” from start to finish without feeling like there’s something else I could be doing.

Here’s the thing… When you’re as tired as I am right now, inevitably your work suffers because you’re tired and mentally fried.  It’s not about “pushing through”, it’s about letting your batteries recharge a bit and building back up that energy bank balance that’s been depleted.  I know that if I can just take it easy for the next two weeks, then I’ll be back as good as new and can fire the engines back up again, but right now, I’m just too tired.

The key takeaway from all of this is that there are times where all of us just run out of gas and having very little left to offer.  Unfortunately, if you’re a Casual Marketer with other things on the go, you probably don’t have the ability to just shut down for a week, so you need to figure out a plan to get yourself back to firing on all cylinders.  The most important things are recognising the problem and putting in place the plan to dig yourself out of that energy hole.

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