Most small business entrepreneurs are actively engaged in what they do daily and are too busy to even consider burnout. So, they seldom notice some of the most common early warning signs of burnout: fatigue due to distraction at the expense of self-care.
Check yourself against this common early warning sign of burnout.
If you’re struggling with burnout, you may recognize some of the most common signs:
- Fatigue. In the early stages of burnout, you may feel a lack energy. Or there may be an overall sense of melancholy throughout your days. In the latter stages of burnout, you may feel physically and emotionally exhausted, drained, and depleted. And you may even feel a sense of dread for what lies ahead on any given day.
- Sleep Problems. In the early stages, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep one or two nights a week. In the latter stages, insomnia may become persistent. As you become more exhausted, its more difficult to catch up.
- Distractibility & Forgetfulness. Lack of focus, distractibility and mild forgetfulness are early signs of burnout. As burnout symptoms worsen, you may get to the point where you can’t seem to get your work done. This distractibility leads to unfinished tasks, several things on your mind, and as tasks begin to pile up, overwhelm is right around the corner.
Of course, there are many other signs to be aware of such as physical illness and lack of appetite as well as heightened emotions like anger, anxiety or depression. If you are experiencing these conditions you may be bordering on burnout and these three strategies can help you manage distractions and get back on track.
Is it difficult for you to harness your energy and focus and keep yourself from the constant distractions of day to day living?
Coincidentally, moms are some of the most ‘distracted’ people on the planet! It’s no wonder that so many of us are fatigued! Whether a mom entrepreneur, or a work at home parent, you know how difficult it can be to manage daily distractions. There are literally hundreds of things that must be ignored to create the focus you need to be functional at home. Connectivity and social-sprawl has made distraction an epidemic.
How Distracted Are You?
Distractability is one of the key signs that you’re losing your focus and overly fatigued. And as such – an early warning sign for burnout. If you find yourself daydreaming often throughout your day, or trying to manage multiple things at the same time – yet completing nothing, often… THIS condition is a strong cue that you might be on the border of burnout. The roots of which are the distractions that you are currently treating as your top priorities. STOP… You may want to re-read that sentence.. 🙂
Causes for Distraction
The largest cause for distraction today is that we live in an epidemic of overwhelm… And, the most dangerous habit is that we, as a culture are defining this overwhelmed state of distraction as NORMAL.
- The amount of information we process daily is too much for our human brain to manage. I read somewhere that The New York Times on Sunday contains more information than the average 18th century French Nobleman learned in his lifetime (now, if only I could remember where I read that…)
- Secondly, the deluge of new technologies has pushed us beyond our human capacity and habits.
Distraction And Your Brain
You might wonder how anyone ever stays focused… Our brains have specific neural circuitry for this process, yet it’s a bit different than you may expect. What we find is that productivity and your ability to get results is really based on how well you inhibit the wrong things from coming into focus.
[Tweet “#Productivity is about your ability to avoid distraction and keep your focus”]
According to an article in Psychology Today, (Easily distracted: why it’s hard to focus, and what to do about it), a common test that neuro scientists use to study the act of focusing is the “stroop” test. Volunteers are given words printed in different colors, and told to read out the color of the text, not the word itself. In the example below, the brain has a strong desire to answer “Grey” for option c., as it’s easier for the brain to read a word than to identify a color.
To not read the word “Grey” requires you to shut down an automatic response. Using scanning technologies neuroscientists have observed people inhibiting their natural responses. They have discovered the brain networks that are activated when this happens. There is one specific region within the prefrontal cortex that is central for all types of inhibition. The portion of your brain responsible for distractions is known as the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), and it sits just behind the right and left temple.*
In other words, if you are constantly aware of (and responding to) audible cues and visual stimulus, it becomes increasingly more difficult to exercise your brain’s ability to put on the brakes and FOCUS.
The Challenge of Distraction
The challenge is that we do not realize that distractions use up our limited supply of attention each day. As a result, distraction makes us far less able to do deeper thinking work. For example, a university of London study found that your need to be connected impacts your IQ equivalent to pulling an all-nighter, or using marijuana!
The Gift of Distraction
There is always a gift in every difficulty (a cloud’s silver lining). Your goal is to figure out the silver lining within your level of distraction. If you are drowning in distraction you know it. You are aware of fatigue, negative emotions, apathy, and your rockin’ roller-coaster living. If you experience these conditions currently you must reward yourself with rigor that protects quiet time and makes disconnecting a daily practice.
When you experience tension as a result of distraction, try to bring yourself into mindfulness… and shift your attention over to joy and happiness.
Your Rx: Spend time away from your work quietly rejuvenating.
3 Key Strategies To Manage Distractions
[Tweet “3 ways to manage #distraction: unplug, create structure & rejuvenate!”]
We have a funny saying in our house: I have two speeds – ON and OFF… I am a person who shows UP – and is awake… and when I am not – I’m OUT, OFF, or most likely SLEEPING… So, I have to manage distractions to accomplish anything. If you are struggling with distractions you must become conscious of whether you are defining this state as ‘normal’, and if so begin to exercise your own internal braking system.
- The first way is to unplug yourself regularly. If you do not do this, you must start. Set up ‘disconnection rules and off hours’
- The second is to create structure and rigor around unplugging. Hold yourself accountable to shutting down regularly.
- Some time away from work quietly rejuvenating is on your personal life-balance prescription. Additionally, this is a good time to stop, drop, and plan. Clarifying your goals and revisiting work priorities will help you manage distractions.
What Distraction Techniques Work For You?
What suggestions do you have for other mompreneurs who might be reading this now? Please share your suggestions in the comment box below.
*Information from Psychology Today – http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-work/200910/easily-distracted-why-its-hard-focus-and-what-do-about-it