The strive to maximize our productivity these days often comes at the cost of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

But it really doesn’t have to be that way!

We have most likely tried some if not all of these productivity tactics in the past — keeping to-do lists, avoiding multi-tasking, managing time more efficiently, using productivity apps, etc. These tactics have allowed us to achieve more. However, we’re sometimes left feeling burnt out and unfulfilled.

So how can we be productive while preventing burn out?

The key to maximizing productivity is to clearly identify goals and actions that honor our values and strengths and being able to realistically prioritize those action items.

This could feel like an impossible task especially when you’re already feeling distressed. However, you can take little steps to get there.

What is Burnout?

Before we get into the seven steps to maximize productivity, let’s talk about what burnout really is.

Coined by the psychologist, Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s, burnout describes a severe stress condition that leads to severe physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion.

According to many surveys conducted in recent years, a high percentage of employees (numbers as high as 70%!) have reported to have experienced burnout at least once in their careers. Moreover, for many individuals, burnout is caused by routinely being exposed to high stress.

(To learn more about burnout, Healthline wrote a pretty easily comprehensible article on what burnout is and how one can prevent it.)

Whether or not we are experiencing burnout, we’re all familiar with the feeling of overwhelm, anxiousness, and never having enough time. Often, we feel as though we are already doing our best to keep up. However, do our actions help us reach goals that fulfill us, not just professionally but also personally?

We cannot control the amount of time we have in a day. However, we can control how we choose to spend that time. Additionally, we can choose to priority doing the things that make us feel our best, while foregoing some that do not fill our cup.

Seven Steps to Maximize Productivity and Prevent Burnout

Below are seven steps to help you identify your goals and actions that will help you feel and be at your best.

1. Identify goals and objectives

The first step to maximize productivity and efficiency is to identify goals and objectives. This can include professional goals, goals that are important to you personally (e.g. having a active life style, spending more time with loved ones, etc.), your passions, as well as areas of growth and opportunity (e.g. be a better networker).

By setting clear goals and objectives that align with your values and strengths, you can clearly see what you are aiming for.

2. Identify what your values and strengths are.

Once goals and objectives have been identified, it is important to connect with how these goals honor your values and strengths. To learn more about how you can identify what these are, refer to this post on cultivating passion for your work!

3. Identify actions you need to take to reach your goals and be the best version of you.

Based on what you have identified in steps 1 and 2, what actions can you take to help you reach your goals while leveraging your strengths and connecting with your values? Moreover, what actions would you take if you were the best version of yourself today?

4. “Big A” agenda items are things that only you can do. Identify your “Big A” items.

There’s a chance that after step 3, you now have a long list of action items that you need to take! Let’s prioritize this list in a meaningful way. Start by identifying your “Big A” agenda items, or the things that only you can do.

5. Identify the non-negotiables in your life.

To build on that, identify the non-negotiables on this list. What action items are meaningful to you and therefore not negotiable? How do these things honor your values?

6. “Little A” agenda items are things that others can do for you. Identify your “Little A” items.

To start freeing up time for yourself, what are the action items that you can let go of or ask for help from others?

7. Connect outer actions to inner values.

Finally, similar to how you connected your goals to your values, it is important that all of your action items honor your values too. This will help you identify how meaningful these tasks are to you so that you feel ready and motivated to take more action.

Maximizing Productivity and Preventing Burning Out

Our strive to reach our goals often results in burnout or feelings of overwhelm. But it really doesn’t have to be that way.

If we focus on identifying goals and actions that honor our values and strengths and prioritizing realistically, we will be better able to find more meaning in the work that we do. We can then take more action with more energy and motivation.

What is one thing you can do more of today to help you live your life to the fullest potential?