Ever feel like you can’t get everything done?
I’ve had a few of those weeks recently, but they’ve reinforced something I’ve learned over the last few years, and it’s helped me work out how to deal with busy weeks.
It has helped me run my own business, build a YouTube brand and make more money than I’ve ever made in my entire life.
But there’s a catch.
Sometimes, you have to burn the candle out at both ends
I’m a huge fan of time blocking. I’ve written about it, and even talked about it on my YouTube channel:
For me, it ensures I can run my business and build my personal brand.
There’s just one issue: sometimes, I run out of time.
I bet you do, too. And it’s a horrible feeling; you realise that in order to get to the bottom of your to-do list and to keep your promise about lending time to your passion projects, you’ll need to work beyond what most people would call ‘sensible hours’.
I’m doing that this week; I’m burning the candle at both ends to complete an influx of work and keep my YouTube brand firing on all cylinders.
But, aren’t we supposed to avoid burning the candle at both ends?
Yes. We are. I did it for far too long a couple of years ago, and it nearly broke me.
I’m not recommending you do that consistently. However, the odd ‘all-nighter’ here and there isn’t a bad thing if it gets you to where you want to be.
The key is to avoid turning it into a habit.
So, how have I done it this week, and how can you apply the same techniques to your busiest of weeks?
6 steps for avoiding burn out
I think the key to burning the candle at both ends is to avoid reaching burnout.
It’s taken me a while to work this out, but I’ve developed this six-step routine which works wonders.
Step 1: Prioritise
List the stuff you’re going to complete during your period of over-working. Put the hardest, most undesirable stuff at the top of the list and tackle that first. You’ll feel better once its done.
Set a goal for what needs to be completed – and stick to it.
Step 2: Time block
Book time with yourself in your diary for the periods you’ll be working long hours. Stick to them.
Check out my thoughts on time blocking, here.
Step 3: Exercise and eat sensibly
To keep your brain and body in gear for a crazy bout of work, make sure you take regular exercise breaks and don’t turn to junk food.
Burning the candle at both ends while abusing your body is a guaranteed route to unhappiness and unhealthiness. Trust me.
Step 4: Ready your loved ones
You’re going to be paying far more attention to your work than your loved ones for this period, so make sure they know well in advance.
The more aware they are of your busy period, the less likely they are to be impacted by it (plus they can schedule their own stuff which doesn’t involve you during that time).
Step 5: Tool up
Laptop, tablet, easel, notebook, 3D printer; whatever you need to get the work done, make sure it’s all to hand, working as it should and not in need of any configuration, learning or faffing about on your part.
Step 6: When you’re done – stop
When you reach the goal you set during step 1 – stop. Don’t be tempted to go back and tweak or add to the workload just because you’ve already achieved more than you thought possible. You can’t keep this level of work up – trust me.
This last step is crucial. Make sure you get back into your normal rhythm of working quickly (after a break).
I undertake these long periods of work and burning the candle at both ends pretty infrequently these days, but I’m under no illusion that they’re sometimes needed. Use my tips to avoid reaching burnout.