Hey there, quick note, thank you all for your responses to the last issue! Excited to announce I'm launching a community for remote workers who want to end bad meetings. We'll explore how to work in an async-first way without degrading communication and productivity.
Members will get access to a community forum, weekly chat Q&A, and monthly live office hours to get your questions answered by experts (first event happening this month). The membership will start at $199/year. However, if you'd like to join as a founding member this week, reply to this email and I'll give you half off for life. Ready to join the future of work? 👀
The high you get from recovering from your last burnout cycle is intoxicating. Finally, you can do things again! The energy, focus, and interest are all back. So you waste no time jumping back in. Saying yes to every ask that comes your way, going here and there, and grandly living life with no boundaries.
And before you know it, you've burnt yourself out all over again. Who knows when you'll be back in the recovery stage. Months? Years? You're now stuck in another frustrating waiting game. But what if you stopped this cycle? Let's make 2023 your year of no burnout.
Everything has a cost. And I'm not talking about money. I'm talking about energy. But because energy isn't visible, people end up spending it like a naïve teenager with a credit card - racking up endless debt (that they don't have the means to pay) until they max it out.
To get ahead of this, you have to make the costs more tangible. Try to envision an energy bank account. Everything you spend time on, from thoughts to actions, is either an energy deposit or a withdrawal. It's up to you to ensure your deposits meet or exceed your withdrawals so you can stay out of the red. Here are three tips on how to do this:
1. Be Aware of Your Balances
Do you know what your deposits and withdrawals are? Do you know exactly what you're paying for your actions? Do you know what your current energy balance is off the top of your head?
Don't wait until the statement is due to check. You can't get ahead of the burnout cycle without a little awareness.
List your responsibilities, events, and daily practices. Then, assign them a dollar value for how much energy they cost you. $10, $100, $1000?
Now, list the deposits in your life and assign a dollar value for the worth they're giving you (ex. sleep, spending time with people you love, doing your hobbies, etc).
By laying this out, you force yourself to question how you could be doing things in a more energy-giving way, or at least in a way that depletes less energy. This is where the real insights happen.
Look over your past week. What's your balance? Where are your transactions trending? If your account is positive, high five. If it's negative, know that you are currently on the road back to burnout if you don't make some changes fast.
2. Fill the Account Before Making Withdrawals (Or Risk Paying Interest)
If you're waiting until you're tired to start taking care of yourself, it's already too late.
When your account is healthy, you just have to cover the withdrawal cost when doing a high-energy activity. But if the withdrawal takes place when your balance is too low, you not only have to make up the cost but also get hit with late fees and interest. This can quickly snowball and put you in a really bad place.
It's time to switch from a reactive approach to a proactive approach when it comes to your energy balance.
Last year, the final key to unlocking my first year of no burnout was scheduling my time off at the beginning of the year. Then, actually taking that time off. I scheduled to be off one week per quarter and the standard USA bank holidays.
Throughout the year, I'd hit a scheduled holiday and question whether to take it because I didn't feel like I "needed it". But I followed the rules and took it anyway. Every time, I came back refreshed, brimming with ideas, and with a full energy account balance.
It's the same high as burnout recovery without the annoying burnout period. This experience taught me that if you take time off when you feel like you need it, you're already too late.
If you pair pre-scheduled time off with integrating rest into work, you'll be 90% there with filling your energy account prior to withdrawals. And you'll be able to avoid wasting time on annoying late fees and interest.
3. Identify Your Warning Signs
In the beginning, you've gone so long spending energy with no awareness, it can be hard to know when you've gone too far until it's too late. But our goal is to break that cycle.
We're aiming to go from reacting to burnout when it hits us to proactively taking measures so we don't fall into the burnout hole at all. It's time to set up balance alerts.
Figure out what your personal warning signs are that come up right before you go down the burnout path. This will be different for everyone, so unfortunately, I can't give you the answer. You're looking for the starting domino habit that triggers you to prioritize energy withdrawal activities over energy deposits. You likely have multiple, but start by defining your top 3.
For me, those are:
- Not starting my day with tea and reading time
- Not getting at least 8 hours of sleep
- Working from only one work zone for my entire workday
I keep a daily checklist with these items and more that takes me 1 minute a day to fill out but provides invaluable insights during my weekly reviews on which direction I'm heading.
Being aware of this trend allows me to course-correct myself early. I figure out what is causing the increase in energy withdrawals, take action to realign my energy deposits, and keep an eye on the trend to ensure it doesn't get worse. This makes all the difference when switching from burnout controlling you to you controlling burnout.
These three actions will help you start using your energy bank account responsibly. You now have the keys to making this your year of no burnout. In the process, you'll learn more about how you work, take better care of yourself, and regain control of your life. I can't wait for you to see what you're capable of when you get off the burnout roller coaster.
Want to stop burnout? Envision an energy bank account.
Everything you spend time on, from thoughts to actions, is either an energy deposit or withdrawal.
It's up to you to ensure your deposits keep up with withdrawals to stay out of the red.
Quote of the Week
April 28th 2021
In Other News
What Is Life Like When We Subtract Work From It?
"Sabbaticals can give people an invaluable opportunity to rest and reflect on their identity beyond their job."
Always Working? Here’s How To Tell if That’s Healthy Ambition or Toxic Productivity at Play
"I don't hate my job—in fact, I find it energizing. But, does my always-working mentality translate to something more akin to toxic productivity than healthy ambition?"
What Does It Mean to Really, Truly Rest?
"In other words, constantly running through the long list of things you want to get done or that you feel “should” be doing—because you’ve fully embraced #nodaysoff #hustle culture, or because you literally cannot miss work without losing the income you need to survive—is not the same as meaningfully resting, even if you’re sitting down or wearing your pajamas. “It does you very little good to be in bed while your mind is racing,” Conlon says."
In Case You Missed It
2022 in Review: The year of no burnout, walking again, and fails
In the last issue, I shared my yearly review including top memories, favorites, and fails.
2023 Planner Images for Notion
If you use Notion as a planner, I released images just for you! Download them for free here. (Only includes the images. Check out Marie Poulin's Notion Mastery course for setting up the Horizons dashboard.)
Running a Remote-First Business with Marissa Goldberg
I was recently interviewed on Arvid Kahl's podcast, The Bootstrapped Founder, and discussed everything from:
- What practices to use to stop burnout
- How I lead productive remote teams without surveillance or tracking hours
- Why I don't expect team members to be on video during Zoom calls
And more. Check it out!
What did you think of this issue? What do you hope you'll see in the next one? Feel free to reply to this message or DM me on Twitter @mar15sa.
I truly appreciate you taking the time to read this. Hope you have a lovely day!
Founder, Remote Work Prep
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