quit while you're ahead


How stopping work when you are still energized can help you get more done, in less time, and eliminate the possibility of burnout. 

Over the years, I have gone back and forth on the concept of when to stop working for the day. We all have those days where we can hardly get going, and feel as if we are getting nothing accomplished throughout the day. And then we have those days there we are so "on." Where productivity is oozing out our pours, and we seem to just be flying through our to-do list. 

It has been suggested by minds far more advanced than mind, that it is in fact beneficial to stop working while you are in one of these energized, flow states of mind. Now I am not saying to stop right when you start the feel productive. Obviously if you get into one of these amazing flow states of mind, you should use it to your advantage. But the idea here, is to not push it. Know your limits, and stop working before you lose your flow, and move into the aftermath of burnout for having pushed past your limits. 

This is something that I first learned while working out. Being a college athlete, I was used to working out for 4 hours a day. As I got older, and didn't exactly have 4 hours to dedicate to hitting the gym anymore, it was hard for me to find my ideal balance between feeling like I got a good workout in, not wasting my entire day, and not completely exhausting myself in the process. 

I used to get up and work out for 2 hours to start my day. An intense 2 hours. Although I was getting in a great workout, I would come home exhausted, and honestly just want to sleep and eat for the remainder of my day. An activity that should have been waking me up, and getting me into a productive zone, was zapping my energy and killing my work flow. 

Finally I landed on the idea of only working out until energized. Work out long enough to wake up, feeling like I got a workout in, but not push it to ultimate exhaustion. This was not always easy. Some days a good workout would consist of a walk around the block. Others I wanted to keep going forever and ever because I felt great. 

Just the other day I was out for a run. It took me a bit to get into it, but once I hit my stride I felt amazing. Eventually I hit the 4 mile mark - which is really good for me since I was just getting back into running - it was the longest I had run in a while, and I felt fantastic. A big part of me wanted to keep running. I had more energy at mile 4 than I had my entire run. I knew I could run 5, maybe even 6 miles that day. 

Ultimately, I decided to stop while I was at the height of this energy. It was hard - I wanted nothing more than to run further just to prove to myself that I could. But I knew if I pushed it, I would approach the point of exhaustion. 

I ended up going into my work day completely energized, and in a great mood. I finished my entire to-do list before noon and was absolutely amazed by what I had accomplished, and how much of my day was left. Once again I was confronted with the idea of "do I keep going" or "do I stop?" Part of me was boring with energy and wanted to jump into tomorrow's to-do list and maybe finish that to. I was ready to take on the world. But once again, I stopped. 

I took the rest of the day, and read, enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and spent some time with my dog. I felt accomplished for having gone on a great run, finished my to-do list in record time, and had the rest of the day for some much deserved R&R. I ended up getting some more work ticked off later in the day, and went to bed well rested and ready for tomorrow. 

The next day followed suit. 

I could have easily taken advantage of my energy burst and road out my flow as long as possible. Maybe to the point to ticking through the following days to-dos and beyond. But knowing myself, I would have been completely burnt out at the end of the day. And odds are, it would have taken me days to recover. I would have been too exhausted to enjoy a day of sunshine and reading, and would have ultimately ended up at the same place on my to-do list a few days later. 

So maybe there is some weight to this idea of stopping while you are ahead. To try to keep yourself, body and mind, in a constant state of energy and excitement. If you avoid approaching the brink of burn out, you end each day with happiness, and accomplishment. And you start the next day with energy and excitement. If you ask me, that sounds like a pretty dreamy way to build your life and business. 

This week, set the intention to stop while you are ahead. And that doesn't mean just ahead on your to-do list, but instead when you are ahead emotionally. Stop while you are still energized, no matter what time of day it may be. Don't let yourself approach the point exhaustion, boredom, or burnout. Start living in a heightened state of energy and excitement every day in your life and business. Work less, play more. And above all else, put your happiness and wellbeing first. When you do that, everything else will work out better than you ever could have imagined. 

Show yourself some much needed grace this week.