I was basically drunk, even though I hadn’t had any alcohol. I couldn’t think straight and felt delirious. And then I crashed for 12 hours. I had hit a wall.
I slept less than five hours a night for the past month. And I’ve probably averaged five hours a night for the past few years while starting my company.
You think it won’t catch up to you; you’re different. But no, eventually it does. You may have held off longer than others, but sooner or later the crash comes.
For those that know me well, they know I can push myself to the limits and outwork most people. Burnout is very real. I used to think it was bullshit and only people who weren’t mentally tough experienced it. I was wrong. Sooner or later the body and mind just gives and you have to take a day (or a week) off.
I’ve recently become obsessed with preventing burnout. I want to get the most out of each and every minute while not pushing myself over the edge to burnout. It’s a very fine line. Quite frankly, it’s a challenge. But like most entrepreneurs, I love a good challenge.
Here are some things I’m experimenting with:
1) Drink warm water with lemon and honey: I drink this concoction as soon as I wake up. I’ve read about people doing this and decided I’d give it a try. So far it’s been great. I’m not sure if it’s just a placebo effect, but I feel more alert and I’m ready for the day quicker.
2) Reduce caffeine intake: Like many others, I’ve become dependent on caffeine. Sometimes I drink 7 to 8 cups a day. Caffeine crashes are terrible when you rely on it that much. I’ve reduced my coffee intake to 2-3 cups a day and I’ve been feeling much better throughout the course of the day. I’ve also been able to get to sleep earlier.
3) Exercise: I’ve always been one to work out. I grew up playing soccer four to five days a week and have been going to the gym four to five times a week for the past six years. I first started going to the gym because I wanted a good body. Now I go to the gym for a different reason. I feel amazing after I work out. Yes, having a nice body is great, but being in great physical shape allows me to perform better during the day. Working out can also provide a nice break and stress relief. I like going in the morning to start my day off right.
4) Spa days: Ok, maybe not full days, but an hour or two. Going into a steam room and sauna is amazing. I’ve been going for an hour or so once a week and it’s helped my stress levels – at least while I’m at the spa.
5) Having an outlet: For me it’s playing soccer. Soccer has been a part of me since I was born. My dad was born in Italy and I grew up watching Italian soccer since I was a baby. I’ve also been playing my whole life. This past year I got so busy with work that I stopped playing. I realize how much I miss it. Not just for the love of the game but also for the feeling it gives me. It’s the one time during the day when I literally can’t think of anything else. When you play soccer you have to be fully focused and present. All my worries and stress go away. It’s an amazing feeling. Soccer has always been my outlet throughout life. Whenever I was going through a hard point, soccer was always a way to just have fun and not worry about anything else. If you can find something that gives this same feeling, I highly advise it. It’s good to disconnect in small doses. It’s definitely better than getting burnt out and having to disconnect for an entire day (or week).
6) Meditation: A lot of my friends swear by it. So I’m giving it a shot. I’ve tried it a couple times and I’m still getting used to not letting my mind think about a million things (mainly work) when I meditate.
7) Sleep: And finally, sleeping more than five hours a night 🙂