wellness

"I've never been so exhausted, so I tried a 'reset week'. Here's how it went."

Hi, I'm Emma.

You might know me from such articles as: 'I tried 5 different productivity hacks for working from home', and 'I tried a "shutdown routine" to end my workday feeling productive'.

As you may have gathered, I really like to be "productive". Above many other things and often to my detriment. 

Watch: The things successful women do on the daily. 


Video via Mamamia

When things are going wrong, I have a solution, and it's forcing myself to work harder (or smarter). Only, that solution has proven inadequate in 2022.

I'm burnt out. Or at least I was. 

You see, up until recently I worked night shifts, but I just made the switch to working days. 

The change in my shift pattern happened to line up with my 21st birthday last week, so I gave myself a strategic annual leave day to recover and relax before I started fresh.

But it wasn't quite as relaxing as I would have liked thanks to plenty of social catch-ups and moving apartments right smack bang in the middle.

When my return to work came back around, I had planned to feel energised and ready for my new 9-5 hustle. 

I was going to meal prep and go to the gym at 7am every morning. My new place would be spotless and I'd make time to see friends after work at least once a week. 

But it hit 11pm on Monday evening and I realised I was in out of my depth. I couldn't go on dragging myself out of bed and losing all energy, inspiration and motivation the second it hit 2pm every. Single. Day.

So, like my skincare after a sudden and unexpected breakout, it was time to strip back to the basics. 

Before I committed to all my very noble habits of daily exercise classes and waking with the sunrise, I needed a reset.

So I set myself a challenge.

For the week ahead, my usually ambitious goals were refined to a short list:

1. Eat breakfast every morning before work.

2. Light exercise only. No heavy gym sessions, just walks and ocean swims (when I feel like it!).

3. My evening wind down routine starts at 8.30pm. No screen time after 9.30pm, and reading until I was too tired to keep my eyes open after that.

My goals were fairly achievable, and they allowed me to focus on rest, quite literally. 

The intention was to set a few foundational routine actions that I could build on once I've recovered from my current sub-par state.

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And, unlike anything I've tried before, it actually worked.

Side note: You should have a listen to Mamamia's work and productivity podcast if, like me, you struggle with perfectionism. Post continues below.

Here are the three things I learned from my 'reset' that I'll be taking back to normal daily life.

A regular sleep routine might be my single key to success.

The world is clearer on eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. I promise you. 

As mentioned, at the start of this 'reset' I was pretty exhausted. It's funny though, how late you can stay up scrolling through social media even if you're tired.

So each night, I put my phone down at 9.30pm (at the latest, but often earlier!) and turned my full focus to reading. 

I swear, this works better than melatonin. 

Within half an hour, my eyes were getting droopy, and very quickly after that I drifted off to the most heavenly sleep I've ever experienced. 

No quick check of my phone before dozing off. I was out like a light and it felt good to forget the chokehold technology typically has over me in the late hours of the evening.

You can't push yourself to achieve more if you haven't got the foundations down first.

I want to thrive at my job. I really do. I want to go to the gym at seven in the morning, and budget effortlessly, and eat three nutritious meals a day while I'm at it. But right now, I'm not mentally, physically, or spiritually there yet.

It's been insanely beneficial to accept that, if even for a moment.

When things just don't feel like they're clicking for you I encourage you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Productivity can be a domino effect if you execute those fundamentals: sleep, food, and downtime first.

Time away from your phone is sacred.

At the start of the week, while plodding around and not doing much of anything, I stumbled across Mamamia's No Filter podcast interviewing Johann Hari. 

Mia and Johann discussed concentration and trying to focus in the social media age and it was speaking directly to me. 

In a nutshell, Johann opened up about how his perception of the world completely changed when he didn't have access to his phone.

I understood that feeling, and it pushed me on a challenge of my own to leave my phone in different rooms while I was working or reading or resting. 

As could be expected, it made the world of difference to my ability to both relax and focus. My sleep was better, my concentration at work was stronger, and my life was generally brighter when I wasn't looking at it through the lens of my phone.

And so, with just three simple changes, I feel ready to take on life with a newfound sense of motivation. I'd love to hear what you'd include in your reset routine — let me know in the comments below!

For more productivity content (oh, and a bunch of ridiculous Gen Z stuff too) you can find me on Instagram @emma.gillman.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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