Gaining Momentum WIthout Burning Out

Posted by Valerie Ling on May 18, 2020 at 2:20 AM

Momentum. Mass in motion. Building speed. A product of mass and velocity, building, growing, moving forward.


I was asked this week in a small group training session what my opinion was on how many hours of work was the limit before burnout sets in. I used to confidently answer this question until I realised that many variables play into this.


For example, my work day today looked like this:


8:30am. Recording and editing my Resilience in Service one day workshop. Then individual clinical and coaching clients, and an online stress and resiliency group until 4pm. In between I answered emails, and attended to some administrative work. Between 4 and 5pm I made some phone calls, submitted a proposal for a manuscript with a publisher and planned my work flow for the next 2 weeks. I came back to work on some things with my husband - doing some recording between 8pm to 9pm. Now - it is close to 10pm and I am working on a marriage webinar.


That is more than a 12 hour work day!


The research suggests that working more than a 55 hour week is likely to lead to burnout, physical health impairment and overall impacts the quality of our relationships. This 55 hours a week is roughly equivalent to a 6 day week. Based on my work day today, it would clearly exceed that.


However, today was a day of momentum as it was a crescendo of purpose driven activities fuelled by deep focus. The work tasks I invested in had the following qualities:


  • Deeply aligned to my purpose
  • Served the people group I am committed to
  • Varied in demands and types of thinking required
  • Fitted into my need for autonomy, independence and flexibility (hence why I work for myself)

It is also preceded by days of rest, periods of lower output, and will be followed by a day off tomorrow. Thursdays (which is today) is also a day I set aside last year to invest in innovation of new ways of delivering and dealing with the issue of burnout. This time last year I would be found locked away in my office, not earning an income, but committed to think-tank and brainstorm a variety of innovations to hit the burnout scene hard. This means that in 2020, that work of pacing, investing, focusing has led to momentum this year when it was needed.


There is wisdom to look at the number of hours we work in totality over the week. There is also wisdom to know that there are times when we have built some momentum and we need to let it go so we can work with our flow. There is also wisdom to know that there will need to be recovery time, pacing until we catch the next momentum wave. The key is factoring in the discipline to stop and pace regularly so that we can run hard with momentum and conviction.


Now onto that webinar!



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