I’m gonna be honest with you guys. The last few months have been super hectic for me. If you’ve noticed I haven’t been all that present here on the blog lately, you’re not wrong. In August and September I wrote and shot (with Dabito) a new book that will come out next fall. I’m extremely proud of it, but it took a lot out of me. In fact, Dabito snapped the above pis of me on a day we were shooting two houses, and I was sick with a weird flu.
Then in September and October I travelled a bunch. I did three talks in three different cities and then last month, spent eight days in North Carolina for the furniture show — that was the longest I’ve ever been away from Ida and it was very hard (and emotional) for me. As soon as I got back I nose dived back into work mode/mommy mode as well as the really chill process (psych) of researching and applying for kindergartens. Dude.
Dealing with all of this, I noticed days where I was teetering awfully close to burnout. I collapsed into bed right after putting Ida to bed at 8PM and promised myself to say “no” to more stuff.
I’m not out of the woods yet. But I did want to share a few things that I’m doing / have done to help to avoid burnout — I plan on referring back to this post myself when I need a reminder. Plus, check the bottom of the post to read about some changes I’ll be making here on the blog.
5 ways I avoid burnout
1.) LEAVE A BUFFER
I think that my biggest problem is that I don’t leave buffers for myself. I’m careful to not to put more on my calendar than I can handle but I forget to leave a 10% – 20% buffer for the unexpected. Things happen: a computer crashes, people get sick, a friend needs help — and I need to make sure I have some wiggle room in my schedule for the unexpected — actually, it’s even deeper than that, I need to schedule in the buffer. It’s that serious. Also, sometimes good unexpected stuff comes up too: a friend gets engaged, I get invited to a last-minute concert–and a buffer needs to be there for those moments as well.
2.) TSA PRE-CHECK
I love to travel so much but lately it’s felt more stressful than anything. I never know how long it’s going to take me to get anywhere. It feels like there are no direct flights to anywhere I want to go and airlines LOVE charging for every little tiny thing. I couldn’t believe it when I realized that some airlines are charging $40 to GET ON THE PLANE before other people. So insane. So my solution to this stressful situation is the TSA pre-check. I had been avoiding getting it for a while because I thought that I had to go down to the airport (LAX) to do it, but no, actually now they have offices all over the city where you can do the pre-check to move more quickly through security lines. I have my appointment on Friday and I am giddy at the idea of making the whole airport experience less stressful. But it’s not just about airports. The TSA pre-check is a great metaphor for investing in something that might take one full day and might be annoying, but at the end of the day will make many, many days less stressful. It’s about making investments in a stress-reduced future and I’m all about it.
3.) PERMISSION TO BE LAZY
When thing are crazy, like really crazy, it can be hard to let go and have a lazy day. I have to remind myself that it’s OK to have lazy days, actually it’s down right necessary. I’ve noticed that it can help to tell people that you need a lazy day. If I tell Jason and Ida that I need to have a lazy day than they keep me accountable. They make sure I get in a nap, don’t open the computer etc. Heading down to the spa (I love the Wi spa and the Olympic Spa) is always a good idea. It forces me to relax, even if I just go to hang out in the jacuzzi and sauna and don’t splurge on a treatment. (Both of those spas have multiple rooms/ pools and you can hang out there all day for around $25).
4.) SAY NO.
Why is saying no so hard? It’s even hard for me to say no to people I have never met. What is the matter with me? When will I grow out of this madness? This is something that I’m working really hard on and I think it’s going to be one of my major goals of 2017. I need to learn how to say no better. Like way better. And way more often. I feel like for me this just takes practice. Part of it is that I have some degree of FOMO when it comes to my work stuff (oh the woes of a chronic overachiever) and part of it is that I don’t want to let people down. But, the more I say no, the easier it gets. I also am practicing not saying yes OR no right away and giving myself time to assess how I really feel about the situation. I’m practicing saying “I need to think about it for a few days…” and not giving the often excited / impulsive ‘YES’ that gets me into trouble, or leaves me without a buffer.
5.) INDULGE IN MOMENTS OF INSPIRATION
If you’ve attended any of my talks this year or read this blog post then you know about my theory about indulging in moments of inspiration. It basically means stopping what your doing to allow yourself to chase, follow or indulge in a moment of inspiration when it strikes. When I follow my inspiration instead of my iphone reminders, I find the work comes out better. When I feel like drawing patterns, that’s what I’m best at in that moment. When I feel like writing a blog post, that it what I should do. When I try and force things to happen in a way that doesn’t allow for divergences or following the inspiration, the work suffers, and it’s much more stressful.
+ some changes
And here is the some changes part. I started out this post by saying that I haven’t been that present on the blog lately. I want to do better. But I also don’t want to burn out. So I’m thinking I’m going to take some of my own advice for a while in this space. Instead of pushing myself (or my team) to make posts everyday, posts will appear here when we have true moments of inspiration. That might mean that several days will go by with no posts. It might also mean that sometimes two posts appear in the same day. I want this space to be less regimented and more flexible, deep, unexpected and true. On the in-between days I will still be active on all my social channels, so if you need a jungalow fix, you’ll know where to find me.
I’m hoping this will help with, not only avoiding burn-out, but also with my buffer AND with making sure that this blog remains a truly inspiring place to visit. This blog was always intended to be a place to log my current projects and inspirations and I want to hone in on that again.
I appreciate all of you that are still here reading and that have been putting up with my spotty attendance for the last little while. I think you’ll see things change here, hopefully for the better, the slower and the better.
With heart and slow, deep breaths,