Exhausted? How to get off the couch?

young man resting in a sofa _ Horizontal

As a business owner, there will come a day when you’re just flat out tired.  You don’t want to get out of bed, and if you do get out of bed, you don’t want to do much.  All in all, you’re struggling.

Assuming it’s not some form of the flu, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed or just worn down.  You need to find a way to recharge and get back your motivation – it’s likely only a temporary setback for your business, but if it continues it could turn into a big deal.  Unfortunately it’s not as simple as ‘willing’ yourself to get excited again – however there are some things you can do to turn things around.

When you find yourself struggling with apathy or just not applying the kind of energy and focus you’d like to have, try one of these ideas:

1. Clear the calendar and unplug

Typically a big part of the problem is overscheduling…you have almost every minute of the day accounted for with meetings or critical / urgent tasks and at the end of the day you have a pile of follow-up items and to do list stuff that apparently needs to happen in the evening or over the weekend.  A few weeks like that and you will start wearing thin very quickly!

A better approach?  Build in some white space into your calendar and give yourself some real time off.  By white space, I mean build in time between meetings that will let you recover and prepare for the next thing.  Equally important, carve out a day (or at least a 1/2 day) every so often…at least monthly and just block it off the schedule completely.  Make it an unplugged day and try to use it for something fun.  If you just have too much to do, then block it off and use it as dedicated, focused time on very clear tasks (maintenance, follow-up…things that have a clear beginning and end).  You won’t get quite the same lift from using that time for work, but it’s better than nothing.

2. Get Organized – clean up your space!

This one may sound a little more trivial, but I guarantee it will make you feel better.  Find some aspect of your business that’s just out of control messy.  It could be your desk or your office, maybe it’s your schedule / plan of things you need to do.  Whatever it is, find a block of time where you will be uninterrupted and really straighten up that one corner of your world.

You will find a great burst of energy and satisfaction from getting things organized and piles of clutter taken care of.  Remember, don’t try to do everything, just pick one tangible area to address and work it to completion.  Assuming that goes well, pick another area in a week or two and work that area!  Not only will you get the initial burst of energy, but you will be more productive with an organized work space and process!

3. Get Focused – Start doing less

This one is definitely easier said than done, but part of what’s ailing you is that you are trying to do too many things at once.  There will come times when you just have a lot going on and your schedule is driving you with dates and commitments that don’t give you any choices, but when that starts putting you into a state of overwhelm, you need to find a way to deal with it.

The best way to deal with it is to prioritize.  Review your calendar for the next 2 or 3 weeks and take a hard look at what’s really important for your long term success.  What can you get rid of?  What can you say ‘no’ to?  Odds are at first glance your answer will be that everything is important…and it probably is, but if you absolutely had to cut 20% of your activities, what would you cut?

Once you’ve got some things in mind – figure out how to defer, delegate or just get rid of them…and take action.  Maybe you can move some things back a few weeks (or months) without it being the end of the world.  Maybe you can pass it off to someone else…or maybe you just need to make the tough call and let someone know that you can’t do something.  There’s no hard and fast answer – but you will be more effective and get more done if you can start doing less!

4. Build Momentum – get some small wins

People are wired for instant gratification.  A big part of motivation is a tangible sense of progress, and when you’re working on several big things that don’t move very fast you will quickly lose your motivation due to a perceived lack of progress.

However you can turn that around by including a lot of small wins into your mix of things that you’re working on.  If your goals are to write a book, triple the size of your business and expand operations to 3 additional states – it’s going to take a while to reach the achievement stage.  Instead find some small goals, or even interim milestones that you can knock out in the next couple of weeks.  By constantly achieving, you will build up momentum and energy.

What things have helped you get back into the saddle and regain your focus and energy?  I’d love to hear some other ideas – share them in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach