If you are a “knowledge worker” I’m sure you’ve experienced (or are currently experiencing) fatigue and burnout that goes with the busy pace of a productive organization.
The constant drill of meeting deadlines, the incessant barrage of information that needs your attention, the looming demand to constantly produce all team up to destroy your creative drive. Your tasks take longer than they should, your inbox is constantly full and doesn’t seem to be processed as efficiently as normal, and your backlog of projects and tasks is starting to fill up.
This is an extreme scenario, but we’ve all been there. More than likely, you just feel tired, and haven’t noticed the slip in your effectiveness. I suggest two things:
1) Implementing a system for capturing and reviewing all that information and all those projects and tasks that flies around in your head. A slightly modified version of David Allen’s GTD is my system of choice. This type of system is crucial if you are responsible for… …doing things.
If you don’t have this system in place, stop trying to do whatever it is you are trying to get done and take 5 days to learn and implement this system. You will recoup those 5 days in almost no time at all. If you have this system in place and are still facing this slump, try this:
2) Take a short (several day) break to rest and clear your head. It might take some time to wind down to this break, to delegate, organize, or finish all tasks that need to be done in the near future. I can guarantee you that if you don’t have #1 in place, chance are, you don’t even know what these tasks are.
Having the system in place, and having your tasks captured in your trusted system, you can now completely unplug. Don’t check e-mail. Don’t do anything work related. Read about a completely different topic. Spend time with family and friends. Go visit the ones you don’t get to see very often.
At the end of three days you’ll be itching to get back in the saddle, and will have a fountain of good ideas, which can be captured in your trusted system.
At least, this was my experience over Thanksgiving break. I am excited for Monday. (Sorry to all my coworkers for filling your inboxes on a Sunday.)
If you missed the Thanksgiving break boat, you still have plenty of time before the Christmas holiday to implement your system and get geared up (down, actually), for a nice break.