Photo by Denis Agati on Unsplash. Design by the author.

I understand if you don’t want to feel burned out ever again. And with some nifty workload management tricks, you can do that. But, recovering when you are already suffering from burnout? Oh, that’s a whole new story.

Most people, when burned out, choose to hustle their way out. That’s a mistake.

It’s because it reaches a point where the more you work, the less you get done.

According to studies, when you push yourself to work 70 hours a week, you are only getting the same amount of work done as those who put in 55 hours.

But you can’t take some time off either. Can you?

Here’s the dilemma.

There are certain things you want to do and certain dreams you want to achieve. It could be anything like getting a new home, paying off your debts, or taking care of your family.

So you go out there. You work hard.

But when it comes to taking a much-needed breather, you feel guilty. If you stop working, you will be delaying or (potentially) denying yourself all the things you want. Right?

So what do you do? How to cope with burnout?

  • Working wouldn’t help because it would hurt the outcome. Moreover, it will push you even deeper into emotional and physical exhaustion.
  • Resting doesn’t work because it makes you feel guilty. Plus, it takes you away from your dreams.

What’s the way out then? Well, it’s pretty simple. But first, you need to get a few things straight.

Let me explain.

The Twist Villain: It’s Not out There

We all make this mistake. We love to blame it all on stress, overwhelming work, or anything that’s not going the way we think it should.

So we tell ourselves that we will feel better once everything gets settled. Here’s a little secret. It never does.

There will always be an element of unpredictability. And more times than not, it will work against you. That doesn’t mean you have to drag yourself down with it. That one is optional.

You might not know this. But there are mainly three types of burnout:

Overload burnout: When we try to get greater rewards, we often feel the need to overload ourselves with more work than we can handle. But when you do that, you risk your personal life, health, and productivity.

Under challenge burnout: Here, you feel underappreciated, bored, or stuck. You feel like your efforts have no greater meaning, or it’s not giving you enough opportunities to cash in. So you lose your passion and feel detached.

Neglect burnout: It is the type of burnout that comes when you feel like you aren’t good at your job. So you grow demotivated and try to hide behind a wall of shame and passivity.

Now, all these three subtypes of burnout might seem wildly different. Don’t they? But if you dig deeper, you will find one element in common.

All of them come from your own perception of how your work-life should work. You expect yourself to function at your optimum limit all the time.

But that’s not how it works.

It’s Not a Sprint. Nor Is It a Marathon

It’s a lion hunt instead.

Let’s get something straight. There is no one-size-fit-for-all work-life balance formula. A lot of it depends on what you want from your life.

If you are rolling in a 9-to-5, your goal isn’t to get rich. So habitually sacrificing your family time working overtime might not be in your best interest.

On the contrary, if you are an entrepreneur or something of that sort, you have to put in the extra hours to get everything right.

  • You have to stay sharp, work well with different parties, and work hard to produce the best possible results.
  • It’s not only that the bar is high, but there are stronger, faster, and meaner players competing against you.

That’s why you don’t feel safe slowing down or taking breaks. It’s because, if you do, you will fall behind.

That’s where you are wrong. Here’s what Naval Ravikant has to say about it:

So really, the way people tend to work most effectively, especially in knowledge work, is they sprint as hard as they can while they’re working on something. And then they’re passionate. They rest. They take long breaks. It’s more like a lion hunting and less like a marathon runner running. So you sprint. Then you rest. You reassess. Then you try again.

You can’t hustle 24*7 and sustain high output. Your brain drains out, you run out of ideas, and you struggle to think straight.

Again, I have mentioned earlier. There comes the point where the more you work, the less you get done. Here’s something that might sound stupid. Taking breaks will make you more productive in the long run.

It will help you build, in Ravikant’s words, a ‘marathon of sprints.’

The Solution Might Sound Super Easy. But It’s Not

When you are experiencing burnout, it’s an early sign that your hustle is about to take a toll on your health. That is unless you let both your body and mind recuperate.

So that’s it? After everything, is it just resting the secret sauce to beat burnout? Theoretically, yes. But there’s more to it.

Simply taking a rest isn’t going to work. In your head, you will still worry about not working. If anything, it will make you feel even worse.

The key is not to blame yourself for taking some time out when you need to.

But how do you do that? There’s no on-off button. That’s where the lion haunt method comes in handy.

Your guilt for taking some time off drops significantly when you use your sprint mode to grow your business, learn profitable skills, and build a system that requires less of your direct work.

Which brings us to the next step.

How To Come Back Stronger Smarter?

Sure. Rest will help you get through it. But don’t forget. Laziness and short-sightedness are what brought you here in the first place.

The goal is to make it lighter for your future self, not harder.

Most of us make this mistake. We take on more than we can chew. What do we do next? We sit on it. We procrastinate. And then we put those tasks off for later. We count on the enhanced efficiency of our future selves.

Here’s what we fail to realize. When we do so, we push our future selves to the same misery we are in now.

So what do you do? Do everything right away and plan to keep it breezy later? Well, that won’t happen either. If your income is directly proportional to how much work you do, there will always be more work to do.

So you have to make your sprints mean something.

What’s the best way to do that? Simple. All you have to do is to invest some of your time and effort to put together a scalable plan and then build upon it.

If you manage to pull it off successfully, it will allow you to provide more value to your respective markets with less time and effort.

As a result, you can buy yourself more time to relax, retain your optimum functionality, and get better ideas to work with, keeping burnout at bay.

It’s okay to feel burned out. That’s the most important thing you need to remember to bounce back from burnout. It’s not that complicated. Sometimes we need the space to cool things off.

After all, we work to live, not the other way around.