Jason's emotional check-in system

How to monitor your energy levels

One of the workout instructors I follow is a big fan of “time under tension” training. This is where you hold a move, like a lunge or a plank, in order to stress a muscle group. Even with bodyweight, you build up a nice and fiery burn. 😅

Building and growing a business is a type of time under tension training. Only, instead of holding a plank or 15lb weight, you’re holding up other pressures, such as revenue, payroll, and endless to-do lists. 🙇

Therapists have a word for this mental time under tension: chronic stress. And the longer you hold it, the more it burns. Except it usually doesn’t feel like lactic acid buildup (what happens when you break down muscles) and sore bums. 🍑 It surfaces in other ways.

For me, the burn looks like insomnia. For my husband, it’s stomach aches and headaches. 🤕 There are many types of burn, but the one thing they have in common is when they build up too much, it’s hard to run a business.

That’s why monitoring your mental burn is a crucial and healthy practice for business owners. And the best method I’ve seen for doing that is a handy little system created by Jason Resnick. 👇

A bit of backstory… 📖 #

Jason is open about his history of depression and burnout. Back in 2012, he hit one of his biggest burnouts as a business owner. He was depressed and chasing his tail, and he knew something had to change. So, Jason put in overtime to fix his business. For a week he stayed up and spent 4+ hours, “dissecting my business and trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.”

He niched down, specialized, and changed his business structure. Those pivots all helped his mental stability, but Jason had one more preventative measure to layer on.

That layer was a practical mindfulness system—a way for Jason to check-in on his mental energy levels 2x each day and address burnout before it happened. 🙌

Here’s how he set it up.

Jason’s preventative system and how to use it 👀 #

In his bullet journal, Jason created this chart:

Jason Resnick's am/pm system

Note: This isn’t an actual excerpt from Jason’s journal, but it accurately reflects what he showed me.

There are three columns up top: AM, PM, and notes. Then one row for every day of the week.

At the start (AM) and end (PM) of every day, Jason adds a green, yellow, or red light to indicate how he’s doing. Green is good, yellow is meh, and red is ugh. Most days, he jots down a short note for context. At the end of every week, he reviews his marks.

This helps Jason construct a holistic view of his mental state. He explained, “when I do my weekly review, I look to see how I felt...And if there's starting to be too many yellows or reds, then I say, ‘okay, well what's going on here?’ And I start to reevaluate things.”

In other words, this system helps Jason identify troublesome trends and re-balance before things get too fiery.

I immediately had heart-eyes and knew I wanted to give this a go. 😍

18 weeks later: what I’ve learned using Jason’s system 📝 #

A week after talking with Jason, I started using his system. Here’s what my version looks like, in the notebook I keep on my desk:

Although I’ve occasionally skipped a week (when I was sick) and sometimes forgot to mark each day, I’ve kept this up for 18 weeks now. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • It really is that simple 🚀. Just mark how you’re feeling every morning and late afternoon.
  • You can do it faster than hopping on Twitter 😁. Time it yourself if you don’t believe me.
  • It builds a narrative 📚. On any given day, it’s easy to feel, “it’s been this way forever.” But that’s not true. Jason’s system creates a chronicle of all your previous weeks, so you can more easily see what it has been like.
  • It’s a great preventative 💙. If you’re glancing at this weekly, you can easily spot downhill slopes. This helps you address the burn when you’re starting to slide vs. when you’ve slid all the way to the bottom. It’s much easier to recover from the first!
  • It’s flexible 🙆‍♂️. You can do this on paper, on a whiteboard, or in whatever tool you regularly use (Jason does this in Notion nowadays).

Best of all, it’d take you three whole minutes to set this up on your desk right now. So, maybe give it a go? Worst case scenario, you wind up not using it. 😊 And if you do give this a trial run, lemme know how it goes. I’d love to hear about it.

👉 Friendly reminder: we have loads more self-care tips in our recession-proof playbook!