I was completely burned out. Then a 3-word setup on your iPhone changed everything


I have a problem. I was in danger of exhaustion.

It wasn’t a matter of not liking what I’m doing, or not finding it hard enough anymore, or even a matter of not liking Make enough money.

All these funds have been checked.

But after several years of hard working through the pandemic, building a small business, and getting the satisfaction of reaching millions of people through my work, I’ve never really had the opportunity to completely unplug for any length of time.

A day off here, a day off there, sure. Vacation visits with extended family? Yes, we did. We spent a week at the beach several times.

But, even on these trips, I would always find myself picking up my laptop after my family went to bed at night—to realize something else had to be done.

Otherwise, I check my phone 10 times a day to see if things that should happen in my various work projects actually It was Event.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan: I didn’t take time off. I was getting a change of scenery.

The paradox was puzzling

Come to think of it, “checking my phone 10 times a day” is a real understatement. Maybe I don’t want to acknowledge the actual number.

The point was that I saw warning signs, but I also ran into a dilemma:

  • On the other hand, my family and I obviously need to spend some time apart, uninterrupted as much as possible.
  • On the other hand, I have not yet built my business and function to the point that it can go on without me for days or weeks at a time.

The irony was baffling, but perhaps not uncommon. More so, because I was confident that the escape would allow me to put my mind at ease and return to new approaches to my daily challenges.

But, it was precisely those daily challenges that made it seem like I couldn’t escape.

Then, early this summer, I found the answer in an unexpected place, as I was staring at my iPhone after a long day of work, its battery percentage dropping below 20 percent.

An alert flashes on the screen, giving me the option to turn on: “Low Power Mode”.

‘low power mode’

How many times have you seen this warning appear over the years? How little do I think about it?

Simply swipe the screen, watch the battery icon turn from green to yellow, and move on.

But now, I laughed, “This is what I need in my life,” I thought. “I don’t want to let go of what I’m doing. I don’t want to bring the world out of the dark.”

I just want to turn on Low Power Mode.

For the next few weeks, I used “low power mode” as the metaphor that guided all my preparations.

I’ve already scheduled a trip away, but now I’ve added a little spare time before and after the actual travel, so that my calendar shows a full 21 days in August and early September.

Then, I set out to cut back on everything I did professionally each day, figure out what the “low power mode” version really was – the minimum requirements to keep things running – and find ways to schedule that minimum ahead of time.

Start with the minimum

Perhaps the biggest example was related to Email newsletter I write five days a weekCall Concept.

Most days – every Monday to Friday, all year long – the newsletter includes an original article and a series of links to things happening that I believe will help my readers make sense of the world.

Over 160,000 people subscribe to it, and it’s a big part of my business. But the truth is, I never have three weeks of newsletters ready and ready to move on. (I hope!)

Therefore, necessity has become the mother of invention.

I told my readers what I intended to do, and somehow asked permission. I told them, rather than shutting down, that I planned on going back: a shorter newsletter, fewer components to-the-moment, and even a reboot.

(I realize this makes a lot of sense, because my audience has grown so much that the vast majority of my readers today weren’t around to read some of the good work I did back in the days.)

Anyway, I went ahead, and “low power mode”, as I explicitly called it, means three things:

  1. First, I was able to create and schedule three weeks of content ahead of time.
  2. Second, ironically, the percentage of readers who decided to upgrade the free subscriptions to the premium and paid version of my newsletter went up about 60 percent during the three weeks I was absent. (My theory in this regard is that the Low Power Mode products were shorter, but still had the same number of tips to upgrade.)
  3. Finally, and most importantly, I was able to have a nice, long and badly needed vacation. Just as I had hoped, my subconscious seems to have worked through some of my biggest challenges, so I came back excited about the new solutions.

Forget the “quiet take off”

A few weeks after my return, I still found myself thinking about the low power mode metaphor. I think it’s a powerful alternative to the two extremes we’ve seen so often written about over the past few years:

  • First, the culture of hustle, which seems to have everyone working non-stop, as hard as they can, trying to make and make money before the music stops. Heck, we’ve had people bragging about the lack of sleep they got for a while.
  • Second, the other extreme reaction: big quits or quiet quits, where people decide they simply have had enough and aren’t willing to share anymore, almost no matter the cost.

But on your device, Low Power Mode means slowing down certain processes, not updating as often, and using less power overall so you can extend things until you plug them back in.

Isn’t that what many of us want right now?

Don’t stop working and live on an island somewhere – but instead find a way to step back temporarily. Do only what is absolutely needed to keep things running for a while, rest and rejuvenate, and then come back strong.

If borrowing the name of a setting on your iPhone makes it easy to accomplish, I think it deserves the name.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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