Refilling When You're Running on Empty

The other night I woke up at 2:30 a.m. unable to sleep. As I reflected on how depleted I felt -- the result of too many early morning cross country flights to visit clients and family and a few intensive day-long strategy sessions with colleagues -- I realized I'd been running a bit too hard and fast. I was exhausted. Sitting on the couch thinking of my current state, it reminded me of my car. In great shape overall, looks better than its years, but running bone dry and in need of a major tune-up.

The next day I decided to implement my 6-step jumpstart plan to get my energy back:

1. Clear the clutter. I cleaned off my desk, cleaned out my files and answered some emails that were nagging at me. Oh and unpacked my suitcase that'd been shoved in a corner of the bedroom.

2. Plan for time off. I looked ahead in my calendar to anticipate what needed doing between now and the end of the year, blocked off times to think, write and carved out time to enjoy the holidays with family, as well as time for myself to rest and rejuvenate before the new year.

3. Say NO - eliminate the "maybes." By removing three tentative commitments from my calendar, which felt a bit stressful to undertake, I gained back 4 weeks of my time, not to mention the hours each project would have taken me to complete.

4. Drink water.  Seriously, it works. After being on 6 airplane flights in a week and drinking too much coffee (to wake up) and wine (to fall asleep), I was dehydrated. Nothing cures what ails you like water.

5. Sleep. The other miracle cure besides water. Yesterday I took a nap. People who know me know this NEVER happens. My mom couldn't get me to take a nap at 2, why should I start now? But I allowed myself to surrender to my exhaustion and it really helped.

6. No Should Days. This is my miracle cure and it works every time. If you're like me, you might have the fear that if you actually slow down, relax and, gasp - get horizontal - you may never want to get up again, so you just keep going. That's when I pull a "No Should Day." On this day (usually a Sunday) I allow myself to do anything I want, but I never do anything if I feel like I "should" or have to. I can scrub the toilet, but only if I want to. Yesterday I played Gin Rummy with my 9-year old niece, watched 2 movies (No Reservations and Nim's Island), took a nap, baked squash, hung out with the dog and went to bed early. This morning I woke up at 6 a.m. without my alarm and felt good as new.

If you feel like you've been sprinting through this year and are in need of a bit of respite, try my six steps and let me know what works for you!