The why and what of a restart routine
It is important to recognize when you are feeling overwhelmed or are struggling to focus and to have a restart routine in place that will easily get you back on track. This is truly one of the greatest hacks to motivate yourself, when life gets hard. Everyone has their own tell-tale signs of fatigue or feeling worn out, but there is a way to catch those signals of stress early and get a quick jumpstart back into being your most productive self.
Step 1: Heed the warnings of stress
I like to refer to the warning signs of being overloaded as the “canary in the coal mine”, an analogy that draws on the fact that canaries can smell toxic gas earlier than humans and their distress would serve to warn miners of impending danger. Similarly, you can also detect what your own unique triggers are that signal you are carrying too much on your shoulders. Once you know the signs, you can easily implement a restart technique that works for you.
For me, that trigger is when I notice I haven’t been able to reach Inbox Zero for about a week. That’s when I know I need to start thinking about reshuffling some things and reestablish what my priorities are. I look at all of my tasks and reprioritize my schedule by either taking stuff off of my plate altogether or by delegating the tasks I know I can’t do now. The bottomline is: if it isn’t working, change it. It is insane to think things will be different otherwise. Determining your own personal whistleblower and changing things accordingly is the first step when feeling overloaded.
Recognizing that you are overwhelmed and adjusting accordingly is integral to maximizing productivity and overall well-being. You don’t want to inadvertently let a good habit fall by the wayside by not being consistent and so you will need to jump back on the bandwagon as soon as possible. All you need to do if you are feeling like you are running behind in your responsibilities is to catch yourself early and before slipping from a good routine becomes permanent, which is done by recognizing the warning signs and altering your actions. You also need to have a revitalizing restart routine ready to help recharge your batteries.
Step 2: Find a restart routine that works
This second step of building a solid restart routine is actually one of the most important practices to apply to your life whenever you are feeling swamped. What you choose to do doesn’t need to be huge, but it does need to make you feel good. Choose something that is simple, easy and rewarding and aligns with the values and ideal lifestyle you are trying to follow. You can also switch it up and include new rituals to the mix. Having this restart routine in place and applying it when it matters is one of the best ways to recollect yourself and come back stronger. The method works by resetting your energy levels, similar to shifting gears, and enables you to regain the momentum you had going to begin with. Plus, you may also learn that from this practice, you are able to drive yourself even further.
What I personally like to do is have a “self-care day”, which could be something as simple as getting a haircut, pedicure or massage. For someone else, this routine could be taking a bath, taking a yoga or dance class, having a picnic in the park, shopping or dining out, or really whatever it is that floats your boat. Just make sure that the activity you choose to do is some form of self-care and is beneficial to you in some way. Like any new habit you are trying to create, this one should also be simple and easy to do, but good for you. You do not want to sabotage yourself by regressing into unwanted behaviors or habits.
What happens for me is this: once I have done this self-care day, I feel ready to commit myself to being on good behavior starting tomorrow. In the evening, with this newfound energy, I then sit down and try to check those emails that were the trigger for me to begin with. But it is through my restart routine that I am able to find the energy to crank out what I need to do, which includes reassessing my schedule and to-do list.
Some days are hard, but you can make them easy
The thing is, most habits, and especially those geared towards productivity, are pretty easy to do. Take for example going for a walk or even working out at the gym: it’s pretty simple. All you need to do is put on your shoes and just go. But, let’s face it, sometimes we just can’t seem to motivate ourselves to do what we know we need to do. On those days when you just don’t feel like doing something or anything for that matter, then it is time to refer to your restart routine and I guarantee you will quickly begin to feel good again and return to your A-game.
Sometimes we can all face mental hurdles, but if you have a solid restart routine that will redirect you back to your ideal roadmap, then jumping over any obstacle becomes easy.