8 Tips to Avoid Massive Project Burnout & Meltdowns

“An obstacle is often a stepping stone. – PRESCOTT”

Over the last several years I have done quite a bit of painting around the house.

I would start out in the mornings nice and strong and full of energy, and as the project went on my energy level would start to go down, and then by the end of the day I would be hungry, tired and would barely have enough energy to clean the brushes–I was burned out.

And then one day it occurred to me that I didn’t have to allow a project to make me feel that way.

Here’s how to complete a project without burning out:

Approach the project with the right attitude

Your attitude towards a project will determine how you feel while you are doing it.

If you approach your project with resentment, it will become difficult to impossible to enjoy, and time will creep by slower than a heard of turtles going through mud after a big lunch.

However, if you approach your project with a positive attitude, not only will time fly by, but you may even find it enjoyable.

If it is a project that you just cannot bring yourself to do consider hiring someone; paying someone else do the work is better than having an unfinished bathroom or deck for example.

Avoid doing too much too soon

When we are excited about a project, we can really get caught up in the excitement of it—especially when we think about the benefits it will bring to our lives once complete. In spite of your excitement, hold yourself back. If you do too much too soon, your chances off becoming burned out quickly go up, and you may find yourself stopping the project soon after you start.

So, before you begin the project, know how long it is going to take, and then decide how much work you will be able to put in each day. Take into consideration breaks, days off and all of those other things (fun and necessary) that you do to keep your life in balance.

Work Steadily

Carry out your project at a steady pace (unless you have real deadline and not one of those deadlines where you just want to get it done as soon as possible). Moving too quickly can cause scatteredness and anxiety which can lead to mistakes you then have to go back and correct. One time in my haste to get a room painted, I spilled an entire can of paint.

I am sure you would rather spend your time doing something else rather than correcting mistakes that were completely preventable had you slowed down.

Take short breaks

Take short breaks to eat, drink, sit down and relax for a little, and yes use the bathroom. Some people can get so focused on the project they forget to take care of themselves. They just want to get it done and then by the end they are dehydrated, hungry, cranky, and just not fun to be around.

I’m not saying any names, but it gets nutty around our house when a certain loved-one (my boyfriend) doesn’t take breaks during a project. Seriously, it is better to take small breaks throughout the project and have it take a little longer–you will be so much happier, and so will everyone else around you.

Take long breaks

If short breaks don’t keep you sane, take longer ones if you can. Yes, there are some times you need to push and grind to meet a deadline, but if you truly can avoid that then do.  Take for example painting a room. You might decide to do the ceiling one weekend, two of the walls on another weekend and the last two on the third weekend with a total project time of 3 weeks.

Splitting your project across multiple weekends will allow maintain your sanity by giving you the time to do other thing you enjoy. In fact, I stained our deck this way. I did one section a day until it was complete and there were even a few days no sections got done.

Work within your rhythm

Consider working on the project according to your circadian rhythm. Are you a morning person, or are you at your best in the afternoon. Knowing this will give you an idea of when you are most likely to feel your best while doing your project. Because I am a morning person I try to get most of my project work done then, so I don’t have it hanging over my head in the evenings and I can use that time to spend with my family.

Entertain yourself while working

Having entertainment can make the project go by quicker. I’m sure you’re no stranger to this. Try listening to music, a book on tape or turning on the television the next time. My favorite thing is podcasts. I love to learn, so I load up the iPod with lessons.

Get help

Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family members for help. Let them know ahead of time so they can schedule and prepare for the tasks ahead. For some people it can be difficult to ask for help. Get over it. If it’s something you’re uncomfortable with, it will be good practice. Depending on the length of the project, consider having snacks or a nice lunch as a gesture of appreciation.

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