Talk about a recipe for getting burned out: People are worried about their jobs, health and safety of their families. But you can learn to keep your mind in the right place — even in a pandemic.
Learning to stave off burnout is worth your while. Burnout causes irritability, poor decision making and lower productivity. It “occurs when people feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained,” said Michael Levitt, chief burnout officer of The Breakfast Leadership Network, which helps people deal with the effects of burnout.
But how do you learn to avoid getting burned out?
Unplug So You Don’t Get Burned Out
Working from home can cut stress. But it can add to it, too, “with kids roaming around the house seeking our attention during work hours,” said Michael Hammelburger, CEO of The Bottom Line Group, which helps companies cut costs.
To stop from feeling burned out, Hammelburger taught himself to control his time online. “Getting committed to a digital diet has helped me lessen my anxiety and stress, improve my focus and well-being,” he said.
Levitt says you must teach yourself when you really need to plug in. And know when to ask for help. “Be real firm on what you will work on and what you won’t,” he said.
But it’s important to learn how to set boundaries without looking selfish. Use a list while asking for help when you’re overwhelmed or feeling burned out, says Damian Birkel, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Professionals in Transition Support Group. “Bring your to-do list ranked in order of priority. Show it to your boss and ask, ‘which of these to-dos will you be reassigning?'”
Don’t Wait Until You’re Burned Out
“Workers can avoid burnout by being mindful of where their energy goes. Prioritize tasks at the beginning of every day,” Gordon said.
Prioritizing your mental health, too, can stop you from getting burned out amid 10 to 12 hour work days, says Jimmy Page, founder and CEO of marketing agency Inseev Interactive. “It’s important to ask yourself, ‘If I don’t do this today, will it cause serious long-term damage to my career or company?’ he said. “If the answer is no, then just turn the work day off.”
Don’t Get Burned Out: Expand Your Knowledge
Taking a step away to learn a new skill can help you avoid the feeling of getting burned out, says Mark Stephenson, editor of How to Shoe, a footwear fashion website. Not only do learning breaks loosen his creativity, but “I developed a few more skills that I was later able to incorporate into my current role.”
New skills can lead to new opportunities. A few years ago, April Macowicz, a Southern California-based life coach, started a new career in real estate that became all-consuming. She was thriving financially, but miserable. So, even with $100,000 in commissions within sight, she walked away.
She took a month off and got her life in balance again. Now when she coaches people who are burned out, she urges them to create a life wheel. That’s a pie chart divided into different slices of life: health, career, self-image, family and love.
Students learn to examine where they stand in each category. It may not be work that’s causing you to feel burned out. When you figure out what the problem is, you can learn how to fix it.
Learn To Reflect
Most people who successfully fend off feelings of being burned out use some form of meditation or mindfulness, says Dr. Andrew Temte, author of “Balancing Act,” and president at Kaplan North America.
“Being self-aware allows you to make better decisions,” he said. “The concept of meditation, looking yourself in the mirror, self reflection, these are steps one can take (to be) more mindful.”
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