These past few months I have had family and friends reach out to me in panic, tears, and despair about feeling so overwhelmed that they didn’t know where to turn for help or to get off the merry-go-round of this burdensome feeling.

“I feel like I can hardly keep my head above water,” is the most common description I have heard from those suffering from too little time with too much to do. I too have fallen prey to this malady and I can tell you from my personal experience when you allow this to happen for a prolonged period of time, you risk breakdowns, depression and illnesses that can literally be life threatening.

Manage Your Energy Wisely

Each of us has only so much energy to expend each day. Think of it like a tank of gas. You start out the day (if you have had a good night’s rest) with a full but limited tank of energy. Let’s apply the same discussion regarding utils (a hypothetical unit of measure for satisfaction) and use the term joule for measuring work or energy.

Start with a broad assumption that you start with a bucket of 1000 joules a day -- no more, no less -- and at the end of the day it is expended. If you start each day with a fresh bucket of 1000 more joules, you would contemplate more seriously at what you say “yes” to based on what is most important to you.

In other words, as a parent, because your children are a top priority, you are going to be sure you conserve the necessary amount of joules to meet all of your parenting tasks (getting them up, dressed, fed and off to school or taking care of your toddlers all day, etc.)

Let’s say you also have a full-time job, which helps support your household that requires a majority of your joules to fulfill the full 8 hours of work. You are going to be far more choosy about your choices at work if you know there are ways to conserve joules by deciding not to work 10–12 hour days, work through your lunch hour and never take any breaks.

Then there are the other family energy draining activities, commuting home, preparing dinner, helping the kids with homework, getting the toddlers bathed and into bed or going to sporting events in the evenings. Now it’s time to have some joules left for your spouse, after all, they are important too!

Last and not least, what’s left for taking care of you?

Preventing Burnout – Maximizing Your Energy

Here is a list of recommendations I have found made all the difference in my ability to get to the end of my day and not feel overwhelmed, but have energy to spare:
  1. Feed the Mind, Body and Soul. Begin each day with quiet time for scripture reading, meditation, and personal development books/audios. This sets the tone for your mental attitude for the day. Take in sound nutrition. We all have heard about the importance of a healthy meal first thing in the morning to “break the fast.” A balance of protein, complex carbohydrates and water greatly enhances your energy.
  2. Have a Daily Plan for Activity. Blocking your calendar with the actions you need to take throughout the day provides you with a visual look and what you can realistically accomplish in a day. I recommend color-coding these blocks to help you see where you are spending time and energy for work, family and enjoyment – it’s critical to have fun time planned each week.
  3. Just Say No. This is the real killer for almost everyone. We are a society of over accommodators to others and often compromise our top priorities by wanting to be everything to everyone. You can’t. You, and your priorities come first. If there are windows of time open that will not over-expend your energy then choose wisely and only accept where it works into your plan. IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t be deceived into believing you can multitask. As expressed in our previous blog “Are You Proud of Your Multi-Tasking, You Shouldn’t Be,” we are designed to give our best and highest quality to our work and relationships one at a time.
  4. With Balance Comes Fulfillment. As you commit to acting on your plan purposed with what is most important in your life, you will find a sense of joy and true fulfillment. This requires discipline. Take the “it’s non-negotiable” attitude toward staying on track. Just like an athlete who knows what is required in practice and daily activity to achieve their goals, we too need to stay firm with the commitment to ourselves. We get one life to live, and we are given the right to choose each day. 
You will have fewer regrets and more rewards as you step up and get into “the game of life” knowing it won’t be easy, and there will be numerous distractions. In today’s world, the addictions to technology sucks up huge amounts of unnecessary energy and time. Finally, remember this very important message:

You deserve it, you are worth it, you are important, you are uniquely gifted, you are needed by others to be your best self and you are loved.