Managing your energy when you’re feeling burned out

By Tylie DiBene, 2021 ASU grad (written when she was a senior majoring in criminal justice, an Adulting Ambassador and success coach)

As someone who doesn't always understand or set their own boundaries when it comes to my time and energy, I have learned that many of my not-so-successful time management moments have been due to a lack of energy management. You're probably thinking, “I’m already worried about time management, now there’s something else I need to manage?” Yes, but you can and should manage your time and energy together.

Know your limits and set boundaries

There have been times when I decided I wanted to do everything I possibly could to build my resume, and it was great — until I hit a wall and had my first experience with burnout (more on that below). As a student it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and opportunities available to you and overload your schedule with as many opportunities as possible. But when I started to slowly miss deadlines and become less accountable on some of the projects I was involved in, I realized I was not only letting myself down, but those who were relying on me too. 

At that point, I had to make some tough decisions and step away from some of the things I was involved in. Why? Because I wasn’t managing my energy. Eventually, I realized that if I didn’t give myself a break, my subconscious was going to do it for me whether I liked it or not. 

When burnout happens

Burnout happens when you ignore your subconscious telling you when enough is enough, and that your energy needs to be replenished. It’s a very real thing and can have real consequences — especially for the high achievers out there. When you’re experiencing burnout, you’re not only physically exhausted but mentally and emotionally spent too. 

Trying to function when in burnout mode is nearly impossible and can be really damaging when in environments such as school, clubs or professional settings. By mixing energy management into your time management, you’ll have a better shot at helping yourself accomplish everything you need to get done. 

Work energy management into your schedule 

Be intentional about managing your energy. For example, when you think about time management you might think about utilizing a planner or a scheduler. The same tool can be used for energy management. When setting up your day in a planner, schedule time to take breaks. This could mean 45 minutes to yourself to do whatever you want, 20 minutes for a power nap or anything that gives your mind a chance to step away from whatever you’re working on.

Be consistent about your schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, grab a snack at the same time or create a workout routine that you do consistently a few days a week. (Allowing yourself one day a week with nothing on the agenda can help, too). Get to know when you feel the most energized and motivated throughout the day (and week), thenand schedule a study session or time for a tough assignment when you know you’ll be feeling your best. 

Learning to manage my energy has been a game-changer for me. I’ve been able to accomplish things I truly care about and dedicate the necessary time to school, work, student groups and more without burning out. While college is always a balancing act of time, energy and motivation, I’ve found that making sure I have the time to recharge and planning for the fluctuation of my energy has made a big difference. 

Let me know if you’ve struggled with this too, and if you have any more strategies to help with energy management. Remember that you can reach out to your Success coach for help creating a time and energy management plan. You can also message us at asuadulting101@asu.edu


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