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5 Quick Ways to Recharge In a Hurry ( & Prevent Burnout)

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Why Give a Damn:

When you run a company, invest in startups, advise other startups and push your entrepreneur-ing to the limits you are eventually going to burnout. Here are 5 ways to recharge quickly.


The author of this post, Chris Yeh, has been building internet businesses since 1995 and currently serves as the VP of Marketing for PBworks, as well as a General Partner at Wasabi Ventures.

I’m known as a busy guy.  That’s what happens when you help run a company, invest in startups, advise other startups, and write 500 blog posts and articles per year.  That doesn’t even take into account being a husband and father, participating in the school and community, and reading 50 blog posts and articles per day.

While I’m very busy, I’m also very careful to avoid burnout.

 
Yet while I’m very busy, I’m also very careful to avoid burnout.  I’m no stranger to burnout–when I was in college, I exploited an error in Stanford’s original online class registration system to take double the normal course load, while also writing for the paper, directing an improv comedy troupe, tutoring freshmen on writing, teaching public speaking and counseling, and manning a suicide hotline.  Now that was a bit much…my roommate woke up in the middle of the night because I had a nightmare and was shouting “I resign! I resign!” in my sleep.
 
Don’t let this happen to you.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve worked out a 5-step approach to recharging in a hurry:

  1. Cross-training
    Cross-training in athletics refers to switching sports, rather than burning yourself out with the same exercises and drills over and over.  As a corporate athlete, cross-training refers to regularly shifting activities.  I consciously shift from activity to activity.  First, I might work on a blog post.  Next, I might answer emails.  After that, I might read and highlight a scholarly article.  The idea is to keep changing what you’re doing so that you don’t have a chance to get bored and burn out.
  2. Interval training
    Interval training in athletics refers to alternating high-intensity exercise with conscious rest periods.  I do the same thing in my life.  I use the Pomodoro Method (20 minutes of sprinting, followed by 5 minutes of rest).  This keeps me fresh, and also gives me convenient reminders to shift activities as part of my cross-training.
  3. Regular exercise
    Everyone knows that exercise is critical for health, stamina, and happiness.  But who has time to go to the gym?  Not me!  So I bring the gym to me.  During those 5 minute “rest” periods during my day, I do quick sets of exercises.  These can be anything from situps to running in place to a complete 7-minute calisthenic workout.  If you stick to this routine, you’ll get more than your daily allowance of exercise, and break up your day.
  4. Regular meals and snacks
    Exercising willpower (“executive function”) depletes your bloodstream’s supply of glucose.  The best way to keep your energy levels up is to eat regularly.  I often cite a study on Israeli parole boards, which found that 60% of inmates received parole when they went before the board immediately after lunch, compared with 5% when they went before the board immediately before lunch.  I snack each morning at 10:30 AM, eat lunch around 12:30 PM, and have an afternoon snack around 3 or 4 PM.
  5. Sleep when you need it
    It’s hard for me to get a full 8 hours of sleep at night–I have kids who like to wake up early, and a dog who tends to wake me up in the middle of the night to play with our insomniac neighbor’s dog.  But rather than wandering around in a zombie-like state of fatigue, I simply sleep when I need it.  Whenever I’m tired, and I don’t have a pressing emergency, I simply lie down for a 10-15 minute nap.  Sometimes I’ll take two or more naps if I’m feeling run down.  It takes far less time than running to Starbucks, with far greater results.  In fact, I took a nap right before starting this post!

These recharging techniques don’t even mention ways in which you can use other people to help you recharge–things like catching up with friends, spending time with loved ones, and participating in regular social activities.  But the beauty of these five techniques is that you can apply them even if you’re a solo founder working out of your parents’ basement.  And if you follow them, you’ll be able to keep yourself running at top efficiency and productivity, even if you have a busy schedule.
 
 

Chris Yeh

About the author

Chris Yeh has been building Internet businesses since 1995. He is the VP Marketing for PBworks, which provides highly vertical collaboration solutions that help businesses work more efficiently and effectively....

Chris Yeh has written 19 articles for UNREASONABLE.is

  • Courtlyn Carpenter

    Thank you so much for sharing this article! It sounds like you have an incredibly busy life – it is impressive that you have managed to stay sane with so much going on! I, too, find myself with a lot of different activities, but I am yet to experience burnout (thankfully!). I agree with all of your suggestions wholeheartedly (and would like to try some of your suggestions for “regular exercise” more often), but I also have found that social interactions and taking breaks to practice my cello and play with my dogs are useful. Most importantly, I think balance is important, and I know that I am happiest when I have a number of different activities making up my day that allow me to focus on different things and use different parts of my brain. Thank you again for this great post – it is always important to think about burnout as a possibility and to know how to prevent this from happening!

  • PKroening

    I would have just one question for you. What are some things that people who are not athletes could do to avoid burn out in their everyday life? So instead of worrying about athletics maybe something like school overload or work overload and you are just stressed to the max. Other than that, thank you very much for sharing this with us!

  • Joseph

    Chris,

    Thank you very much for this post. I am currently a college student however i am not doing all of the things that you were doing in college. I would not be able to handle that. However i do participate in sports and have a job on campus. I enjoyed how you discussed “bringing the gym to you” When i am studying for an exam I always find myself getting easily distracted after a half hour or so. From now on when I find that I am getting easily distracted I am going to take a little break and do some sit ups or push ups or an easy workout for 5 minutes or so.

    What advice would you give for those days where you just have no motivation to do anything and all you want to do is lay in bed? I find that i have those days where i do not want to do anything yet i have so much to accomplish that day. Thanks.

  • Palecekb

    Chris this was great! I myself enjoy working out so the fact that you related everyday tasks to workout techniques was perfect! Comparing two things such as tasks and working out, even though sometimes it feels like working out is a task, makes it easier to be able to relate the two together. I can admit sometimes it can be hard to take a break while in school, which from your examples of everything you were involved in, you could probably completely understand. I think that once I am in the “homework zone” it is hard to break away and think about something else when you know the pressing countdown to the due date or exam date. I also know that sleep is sometimes a hard thing to come by while in school or maybe with a full time job, what would you suggest to those who do not have time or the availability to nap throughout the day?

  • DuCharmeDR11

    I liked how this article was themed around athletics, yet can be applied to all aspects of one’s life. I would like to challenge the cross-training point with the importance of a routine, for benefits of increased efficiency and memory, yet I see where you are coming from. I feel as though I will use these “training” metaphors and apply them to my study habits. It is always great to try new approaches so monotony does not overtake!

  • strakaJA01

    I like all of these suggestions! I especially connect with the eating regular meals and snacks and getting sleep when you need it. I know that I don’t do either of these enough in my life. In my Stress Management class we are setting goals. One of mine is to sleep more, so slowly I am added minutes every night. I also know that I need to eat more frequently throughout the day because when I don’t I tend to get headaches and dizzy spells. This article reminds me that I need to take care of myself more. Chris, do you find that you stick to this 5-step approach? Do you find it easy or hard? Maybe it is habit by now? Thanks for the tips!

  • Drew Cox

    I really enjoyed reading your blog this afternoon! The 5-step program will really come in handy throughout my week. My favorite step in the article would be step number 5. I see to many times to none that we don’t average enough sleep. Motivation is extremely hard t build up when sleep deprived. In one of our health classes our professor is stressing how important sleep is especially at our age. When asked how many hours we generally average a night most of the hands went up when 5-6 hours was asked. When looking at studies, they prescribe college students to average 8-9 hours a night! I know this isn’t ideal in a college setting but such changes can really have an impact our our lives. We need to have a little more strong will and be able to put down the xbox controller, turn off the netflix, or send your friends home! Sleep is extremely essential!! Thanks again for such a great article.

  • Anthony Urbanski

    Love the recharge idea. As a student I am not nearly as busy as some of you may be but I often find myself overwhelmed and running on fumes. This is when I need to take a step back and recharge. For me the eating health portion is the toughest when it only takes 5 minutes to run to McDonald’s in between class. Does anyone else have other ways to recharge?

  • mhansen11

    Dear Chris, Thank you for this article!! Being a college athlete, being burnt out is something very typical that we all go through but there are absolutely ways around this. I really like your 5 different re-charging methods! Sleep is crucial and meals need to be frequent as well. I think the only opposite opinion I would have here would be to combine one and two maybe in different activities with different intervals and put in a mental strengthening factor there. I play softball in college and we definitely work on the mental game a lot and I feel as though if life gets to hard sometimes you need to take a step back and BREATHE, then clear your head and figure out what you can and cannot control..
    Thank you again!

  • Caitlin Donohue

    First of all let me just say WOW! You did all that in college/one semester?! That is admirable but also sounds very tiring. This is all great advice, thank you for that. I especially like #1 with changing what you’re doing so you don’t burnout. Do you have any advice on studying? Since you have to study the same subject for quite some time, how do you avoid getting burnt out from that?

  • http://parisinmadison.blogspot.com/ Amanda O.

    That pretty much sums up my college career. Though not exactly involved in the same things as you Chris but I do have a lot of responsibilities and obligations throughout my college career. I have been using most of the techniques that you’ve mentioned above, especially #1. These are all super effective techniques. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kobajr18

    Great article! I enjoy how everything was related to exercise. As a Health and Human Performance major this all hit home for me. The tips on not burning out are all very simple and seem easy to follow. I am curious if you do any meditating or set aside any time during the day to just simply clear your mind?

  • Kobajr18

    I, like Caitlin, am also curious on how you avoid burnout throughout your college career. Taking classes that are all generally the same and avoiding burnouts can be challenging. What is your advice on this topic?

  • Kobajr18

    Completely agree with this! The athletic theme was a great touch and can be applied to different aspects of ones life. I also am interested to see if these can work for me.

  • Mcgrailkk30

    Chris, what a fantastic article! These strategies apply to my life in so many ways and are so simple it would be silly not to give them a try. At this point in my life homework, practice, work and other extracurricular activities can be really overwhelming but recharging helps to stay on top of it all. Just out of curiosity, what kinds of brain food do you snack on to keep your energy high?

  • Haley Horn

    Thank you for sharing. I always need to “recharge” whether it’s taking a nap, watching tv, or even having a conversation with a friend. My mom has taught me the art of the power nap (15-30 min) and I have found that it has worked better than a 2 hour nap. I am glad you interduced the “cross training” method because it is so true. As a college student, I get so bored doing the same routine over and over, so I am going to try and switch it up a bit by switching subjects more often.

  • Matthew Gust

    Thank you Mr. Yeh for this article. I find it to be very beneficial especially for myself at this point in my life. I am a college student taking the most credits I have ever taken before along with a job and my involvement with student organizations. I have learned quickly that it can very easy to get burned out. I always try to have some variety throughout my day. A lot of times we get caught up in the same old routine day after day. Change it up! Making sure you stay active and eat right are huge components to my day. In order to get the most use of your time you need to be at your best. In my opinion the only way to be at your best is with good nutrition, and good night’s rest, and staying physically active.

  • KevinThomson32

    I cannot agree more with you on this article. I started implementing all four of these things and I have found a drastic change on my health and my energy levels. Although I do have a lot of time during the day to workout soon I will not. I will really have to start taking these 5 minute workout tips and changing my workout routine to keep me healthy and alert all day.

  • ghilonipt09

    I snack on mostly healthy foods like fruits and vegetable because it helps keep your energy levels up when trying to concentrate. With fatty foods it weighs your system down not only physically but mentally. Keeping your energy high consists of mostly just eating a healthy diet overall.

  • Mcgrailkk30

    Thanks for the advice! I already maintain a healthy diet I was just looking for some new snack ideas to try. Some of my current favorites are nuts and Quest bars.

  • Alise Brown

    I thought this article was really insightful, I have practised some of these and have found the results to be outstanding. I have taken short naps throughout my busy days and have found that my mind is more efficient and I am able to stress less. Although when I lay down for my naps I find that I have to have my alarm go off a couple minutes earlier because it is so hard to get up after laying down. However I do think that exercise is very important but I perfer to have separate scheduled time instead of during a 5 minute break time. Switching up tasks also sounds like a good idea and I feel like that would be a beneficial step for me to try out, however I do like to be able to finish a task completely and stay in the same area of topic, but I will have to see how that works out for me!