Creating an e-course is proving to be so much more involved than the insane amount of what I had already factored into it initially. Every day, there is a new thing to add to the calendar, which I am starting to want to call the "Cal of Chaos" lol.
I'm learning that - when it comes to working on something you're passionate about - discipline goes both ways. I have to hold myself accountable to do the work, but I also have to be disciplined about NOT working myself into that dreaded place none of us want to be: BURNOUT. So far, so good... though it isn't easy, there's a few things I'm doing to help prevent that burnout from taking too strong a hold. I thought I'd write em out and share here:
Taking Breaks & Recharging, A LOT
The problem with hyper-focusing on things is that I never come up for air... and we've gotta keep breathing to keep going. I've been taking a lot of breaks the past few weeks, trying to force myself to work in 1-3 hour chunks of time no matter what I am working on. Then, I take a walk, or run an errand, or listen to a podcast or watch some tv. Turning my brain off throughout the day feels a bit like eating small meals all day instead of one large meal. It keeps my mind nourished and my energy level up, morning to night.
Boundaries for Free Time & Recharging
Lately, I am committing myself to work during the M-F 9-6 hours on this thing for the most part. After that, I make myself put it down. The rule is, I only allow myself to work a few hours in the evenings or on weekends, and only if the works FEELS exciting. This is freeing up my mind from feeling pressured and helping me stay motivated to want to work on things, even in my off time. During my off time, I also make sure to pick some things that I know will re-charge me... reading a good book, watching an inspiring documentary, going on a photo hike or a trip to the museum... the more I can refill with fun & inspiring things the more energy I'll have to put out.
Leaving Things UNFINISHED *EYETWITCH*
I really, really cannot stand to do this. If the task needs only a few more hours to be checked off - you can believe I'll stay up till 2am and exhaust myself just to feel the satisfaction of checking it off my list. But that doesn't really create balance, I'm learning. And it isn't really very healthy for my body or my mind. So I'm starting to mentally check in with myself at certain times of the day... lunchtime, dinnertime, and bedtime mainly. Instead of working well past lunch or dinner, I make it a point to find whatever stopping place I can and then close things down until later.
Right now is a prime example. As I write to you, it's already past 6pm and I haven't eaten since 11am. I'm famished and I can tell I've started to push past my limits, yet here I am, because I decided that a random 5 minute Facebook post I was going to put up needed to be a full-fledged blog post instead. [Cue dramatic pause while I drive home, stuff my face, watch a romantic comedy and get out of my head for a few hours before I come back here to finish writing...] It's still not easy to do, but I'm finding the more I do it, the more energy I feel like I have to create.
This one I mentioned a bit about above... being mindful throughout the day to check in with myself mentally and emotionally is helping a lot. Instead of just working mindlessly and pushing myself too hard towards the day's goals, I am continuously asking "how am I feeling? How's my energy right now?" If I notice my brain starting to get scattered, or I start losing focus more easily, those are signs too. Paying close attention to my own needs and being serious about the breaks needed is proving crucial to avoiding the burnout.
I've gotten worked up a few times already with how on earth I'm going to hit the insanely ambitious launch date I've chosen for this course. Finally, over the weekend, I realized... I am the one who chose that launch date. It's no one's date right now but my own. I haven't released a date publicly nor committed to any timeline in any way yet. I have the freedom to feel this thing out and change my mind should I see fit. Immediately the pressure was off. So from now on, in the earliest stages of creating, I am giving myself full permission to change whatever I need to in order to stay motivated and passionate about the project. The surest way to a burnout after all is over-stressing about what's ahead. None of that here.
These are all REALLY hard things for me to do when I get going with something I'm passionate about... but I know this course won't be any good if I am burnt out and forcing it to happen. Bottom line, I want to ENJOY creating this, and I want to take the best care of myself I can while doing so... because I know that is the only way to create the best experience I can for others who take my course. Learning so much through this new venture, that's for sure. What are your go to methods for preventing burn-out? If you've got some unique ways, I'd love to hear them in the comments below!