Female office worker asleep at conference table
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Your boss is going to notice eventually.

By Kelly Gibbons
May 16, 2017

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “How do you stay sane with little to no free time?” is written by Kelly Gibbons, founder and managing partner at Main & Rose.

Stress is a normal occurrence in everyday life. Burnout, however, is not. If you find yourself constantly overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and mentally exhausted, it’s time to regain control before it takes a toll on your health, work performance, and personal relationships. Here are some easy and practical tips to implement:

Take care of yourself

It is time to stop treating your well-being as an afterthought. This means opting for well-balanced meals and healthy snacks, and skipping your second cup of coffee to drink water instead. Aim to exercise regularly and do not think about work while on the treadmill. You will begin to enjoy exercise and even look forward to it. Finally, make sure to get adequate rest. Sleep resets and recharges your brain.

Disconnect from technology

Go on a technology diet. In this age of 24-hour connectivity, it is difficult to know when to put down your phone. Each day, determine a time that you will stop working and stick to it. There will always be things left on your to-do list and emails to check, but they can wait. Your sanity depends on it.

Keep an organized planner and to-do list

Just the physical act of writing everything down in a planner relieves some of your stress. That’s because by keeping such a list, you are safe in the knowledge that you have not forgotten anything important. List-making enables you to effectively judge the amount of time required to accomplish tasks and schedule them accordingly. If you prioritize tasks intelligently and plan the order in which you do them, you can focus your time on high-value activities. I suggest implementing a power hour at the start of every day when you work on the things you enjoy the least.

Maintain a clutter-free desk

A cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind. Keeping a clean workspace can have a profound effect on concentration and productivity. Because your desk is your command center, every little thing can either help or hinder your productivity level at work. It is important to not go overboard with personal knick-knacks on your desk, as our eyes pull on everything immediately in front of us and our brain subconsciously processes it. This means limiting family pictures and other trinkets to three items.

Allot time for distractions and breaks

While it may seem counterintuitive, taking breaks can actually improve your focus, jumpstart your brain, and boost productivity. If you’re starting to slump and your eyelids feel heavy, it is probably time to get up and stretch or walk. Just the physical act of standing and stretching improves blood circulation and drives oxygen to the brain. Avoid eating lunch at your desk and step outside when you can to get some fresh air. Not only will your spine thank you, but you will return to your desk with a clear mind ready to tackle the rest of your day.

Alternate between projects

The human brain simply was not built for the extended focus that we demand of it these days. That state of being in a groove where ideas are flowing freely does not last forever, and stretching yourself beyond it will leave you feeling unfocused or bored. Resolve to work on a project for a set period of time, then shift your focus to another task. This will keep you productive and eliminate tunnel vision.

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