Stay away from your phone until you are done with breakfast.
Respond to your e-mails at fixed times.
Read a book or practise five minutes of mindfulness.
Fully recognising that there is no one size that fits all, I am still going to share a sample daily system that includes best practices from leaders who have proactively managed to stay away from burnout.
Use this protocol as a template to draft your very own and commit to practising it consistently.
The morning routine
The morning makes a critical part of the day. To channel your energies effectively, start your day right by doing the following:
1. Get up at the same time. Get enough sleep and develop a pattern of waking up at the same time every day.
2. Exercise. A workout in the morning will keep you energised through the day. Whether it is cardio, yoga or a brisk walk, pick one that you enjoy doing.
3. No screen time. Stay away from your phone until you are done with breakfast. Instead of getting pulled into other people’s lives on social media or emails, opt to look outside, absorb the quiet, or simply attend to your breath.
4. Sit down for breakfast. A healthy breakfast energizes you, improves your short-term memory, and helps you concentrate better. Allocate fifteen minutes to calmly sit down to eat.
5. Put a smile on your face as you leave for work. This simple act will put you in a positive frame of mind.
Getting your morning started off right is critical, but it’s only half the job done. Follow a disciplined routine at work as well.
The workplace routine
1. Write your to-do list. Then prioritise and assign a time duration for each of your tasks. You will have better control over your time and output.
2. Take breaks. Performance and well-being are at their best when you alternate activity with rest. Follow the 90:20 or 52:17 rule to get the best results. And when on a break, stretch, walk or do things that relax you.
3. Plan your meetings. Meetings can take up all your time if you don’t watch out. Attend the ones that are central to your work. Ask for the agenda and any prep material beforehand so you are effective and efficient.
4. Respond to your emails at fixed times. Respond to mails in batches at set times instead of attending to them the minute they hit your inbox.
5. Single task. Focus on your priorities one at a time so you are able to complete them versus keeping all of them in flight or as work in progress.
6. Say no. While showing initiative is a good thing, it comes with a cost. Carefully assess your workload and practise saying no to yourself and others.
7. Make time for lunch. It restores blood sugar and reenergises you. Best to eat with colleagues than by yourself or in front of your screen.
8. Delegate. Leverage the power of many to free up your time. Give opportunities for others to contribute and develop.
9. Show you care. Recognise and thank people. Show concern. Be approachable. Be humane.
The evening routine
1. Come home with a smile. It will put you in a positive frame of mind.
2. Keep the phone away. Its mere presence can cause distraction and brain drain. Let the mind rest after a long day at work.
3. Be present. Have conversations with the family or attend to home chores with full attention.
4. Eat dinner with the family. It is good for you and the family as it keeps the communication channels open.
5. Work after dinner if you must. Once the chores are done and kids are busy with their homework or off to bed, conclude your work tasks.
6. Shut down all gadgets. Do so at least thirty minutes before hitting the bed.
7. Wind down. Read a book or practise five minutes of mindfulness.
8. Gratitude. End the night with writing three things you are grateful for. You will realise how blessed you are and that will have a calming effect on you.
9. Be consistent. Get to bed at a consistent time. The body becomes habituated and prepares to fall asleep at the same time.
The weekend routine
1. Follow the same weekday routine. Consistency keeps the cycle going.
2. Spend time with others. Make time for family, friends or the community. Remember to smile and laugh as you do that.
3. Outsource. Free yourself from transactional chores so you have time for other value-added tasks.
4. Prepare for the week. Assess the contents of the fridge and do other necessary prep work to ensure a smooth week ahead. Do a mental walk-though on what you are going to wear, eat and work on. This will give you a quick start with minimum energy spent on decision-making during the week.
Leverage this protocol to build your very own personal daily system.
Excerpted from Burnout: Beat Fatigue To Thrive In An Overworked World by Anju Jain, with the kind permission of the publishers, Penguin Random House India.