I know a guy who used to work full time in a job that drained him. He’d be head down, bum up getting his work done every day before heading home to retreat away on his own. His weekends were spent sleeping, reading, and a myriad of other quiet activities, opting out of any social engagements.
One day his wife bumped into one of his work colleagues who exclaimed that he was the life of the office and that life at home must be so full of laughter and silliness. Yes, sometimes, his wife said – slightly bemused – as she walked away wondering if this person was even talking about the same man.
Over the years, he has left the corporate world and started working on his own projects, meaning that he often spends a lot of the week in silence and solitude. This means that he has so much more energy for the weekends and he and his wife are always out and about socialising.
You wouldn’t believe he is the same person.
But that’s the reality of how our energy works (for introverts, especially).
If you spend all day working in a job that requires a lot of your energy, you will probably have much quieter evenings and weekends. And, if your weeks are quiet, you will have energy for elsewhere.
It’s not often you can go big on both (if you have, you will know what that feels like – burn out and overwhelm).
But, right now, you might not even realise that your job is draining you and how to be more mindful of where your energy is going.
1. You’re tired before you even get to work
A few years ago when I worked in TV, I got a phone call at 6am before my alarm had even gone off. I remember the instant anxiety that came with that sudden wake up call. Even if your work day doesn’t start that way, there are many factors contributing to stress and overwhelm.
This will look different to everyone, but it could be anything from rushing around in the morning, dealing with peak hour traffic or public transport, or worrying about everything you need to do during the day.
As introverts gain energy from the quiet, mornings are a perfect time to start fresh but this takes planning and intention.
Use the morning to get your quiet time in. It might mean getting up 30 minutes earlier – before everyone in your house gets up – or getting to work earlier, to ease into your day. Make space to read, journal, have a coffee, meditate, or just plan your day.
2. Your day is dictated by someone else
In traditional work environments, this is pretty difficult to avoid because you’re probably always going to have someone to answer to. But that doesn’t mean that everything is completely out of your control. How can you take back some of that control, whilst being aware of what you really need to stay organised and on top of things in your day?
This could be making a list of things to do before you leave work so that, first thing, you know exactly what you’re getting on with. It might be setting specific times to check emails each morning and afternoon, so that your actions are on your terms (not dictated by whoever pops up in your inbox in any given moment). It could even be setting a time to get out of the office to get some fresh air and alone time.
There’ll always be things that come up out of your control, but managing what you can will ensure that you can make space for the important things.
3. Your work environment is draining you
As we all fall at different points on the Introvert-Extravert spectrum, we have different levels of stimulation we can endure. The more highly reactive we are, the less external noise/stimulus we can process at a time before needing to retreat somewhere quiet to come back to our optimal levels.
If you work in a super busy office, with lots of noise, chatter, and just stuff going on it might be okay for the first couple of hours, but as the day wears on, it can become more and more draining. Again, everyone is different and it will show up for people in different ways but that might look like feeling lethargic and tired in the afternoon, getting frustrated or irritable, or feeling flustered and overwhelmed.
Most of the time we don’t even realise that this is happening, so the first thing to do is to pay attention to how you feel and what’s going on. When you notice yourself feeling like you need a break, make a go-to list for yourself to get some fresh air, make a cup of tea, or just go somewhere quietly for a few minutes to reset.
4. You’re overworked or underworked
As a Gen Y, I think having not enough to do is almost WORSE than having too much to do. Talk about the day dragging on. Either way, if you can remember that we’re all trying to reach an optimal level of stimulation, being understimulated can be draining in a completely different way (pay attention to your extraverted friends and colleagues going stir crazy when they’re bored!).
When I was in my early 20s, I actually got let go from a job because I ‘didn’t seem happy or excited enough’. At the time I was devastated because that wasn’t true, but the reality was that I didn’t have enough work or enough challenges. Now I know that if I’d talked to my boss, that may have played out differently. If I’d known myself and felt confident sharing that, she may have understood more.
Know yourself, see where your job is overwhelming (or underwhelming) you and don’t be afraid to communicate what you need with your boss or manager to show them how you work best but also how you working at your best might require different things from others in your office and how that will positively impact the whole business or team.
5. Your job or workplace doesn’t align to your quiet strengths
This one is a little tricky because even I laugh a little at how super introverted me ended up working in the seriously extraverted TV industry. Having said that, some of the hardest workers I know in TV are introverts and have found ways to make their quiet strengths give them an edge in their industry.
The difference is that they LOVE what they do so they’ve found ways to play up those traits and make it work for them. I, on the other hand, just wasn’t prepared to do that (but it took me years to realise that).
Step back and evaluate your job, the industry, and what your strengths are. Do they align? Is there a way to make it work? And do you love it enough to even explore that? If not, it might be time to look around for something else…
6. You take your work stress home (and to bed) with you
Anyone else been wide awake at 2am stressing about something that either happened that day or might possibly happen tomorrow? I know it’s not just me so don’t be shy in nodding along (I’ll just picture that you are while you read this). You’re thinking about it in the car on the way home, as you’re making dinner or even chatting to your partner, maybe you try and relax a little but it’s still on your mind, and then you go to bed and there aren’t any distractions, you’re at the mercy of your mind.
Getting good, restful sleep and quiet time at the end of the day is SO important for everyone, but for introverts in particular. If your sleep is being interrupted by stress or overthinking, it will continue to compound as the week goes on and – by the time the weekend comes – your exhaustion levels have sky rocketed.
What can you do at the end of the work day to leave your work stuff at work? Can you write down your to-do list before you leave so you’re not going over it before bed? Can you get home and take a shower to wash the day away? Meditate before bed or journal to clear your head? Try different things and find what works for you, create a little ritual to let go of the day so that you can fully relax.
What do you think? Has your job been draining you without you even fully realising? Are you going to give one of these a go? Leave a comment below and let me know which one.
And, if you’ve done an evaluation of how your job is affecting your energy and you’ve decided you’re ready to get started on that project or business idea you’ve been overthinking and planning forever, check out my FREE online workshop.
There’ll be bonus worksheets, giveaways, and so much information and actions for you to take away with you!
Click below and grab your spot on Saturday October 29th at 10am AEDST
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