Avoiding Burn Out At Work

Robin Schwartz

Avoiding Burn Out At Work

When you walk in the door after a long day at work and kick off your shoes, do you feel content knowing you put in a solid day’s work or are you already dreading the day to come? Feeling burned out in our jobs is a real issue that many workers encounter.

There are a number of reasons why employees experience burnout whether it’s due to workload, development opportunities, work-life balance, etc. It’s up to each of us to acknowledge when we’re feeling close to edge and take the right steps to prevent burnout.

Take Time Off

As simple as the idea seems, far too many employees don’t take advantage of paid time off programs offered by their employers. This often leads to employees “losing” vacation or sick time accruals at the end of the year if the company doesn’t have a carry-over policy.

If you’re one of these employees, you should ask yourself what keeps you from taking the time off you’ve earned. Is it because you feel guilty or because you don’t want to fall behind on work? Paid time off is provided by companies in an effort to create a work-life balance and help prevent burnout. If you’re feeling overworked, consider taking a few days of leave to reset.

When you do take time off, make a point to completely unplug from all work related activities or communications. It doesn’t help to take a week with your family at the beach if you’re still answering calls all day. The feeling of being stressed and away from your work will only get worse.

Don’t be the reason you’re cheated out of the time off due to you. Know how much time off you have available each year and be sure to use it when it’s convenient for you.

Schedule Free Time

Our work days can often get away from us. What starts out looking like a quiet day can quickly turn stressful if issues arise. When scheduling meetings and workloads, start scheduling small blocks of free time as well.

For many, that might be half an hour at the start of the day. This allows you to get settled, check last night’s emails or voicemails and prepare for the day ahead. If someone tries to grab you right as you walk in the door, politely let them know you’re free in a half an hour to meet.

Also consider scheduling your lunch hour. Working through the day with no time to eat or even leave your desk can wear on you quickly. Even if that lunch hour has to be adjusted each day, you’ve at least promised yourself some time to get up, eat and breathe.

Take Care of You

Whether it’s a morning workout, a lunchtime walk, afternoon meditation or hitting the gym after work, be sure you’re taking care of yourself. A regular fitness routine will help you work out unspent energy and shift your focus away from the job.

Don’t let work get in the way of healthy habits. Try to avoid skipping meals during work and always have healthy snacks at your desk to get you through. Coffee isn’t necessarily a bad thing but relying on cup after cup to get you through your day probably isn’t the best habit for your health. Burnout doesn’t just affect the mind but also the body.

Get Support

Look to your colleagues and team members for support. If your workload just isn’t reasonable, talk to your boss about what can be done. You may come up with ideas of how to spread the work out so no one person is feeling more stressed than another.

If your colleagues offer assistance, don’t hesitate to accept. So often we don’t want to be perceived as weak or unable to complete the job. But when the amount of work you have consistently overwhelms you, it’s time to considering accepting that help.

Change Your Routine

If you find yourself spending hours in front of your computer at work and not feeling like you’re getting anywhere, change your scenery. Once you have your “to-do” list for the day, determine where you might be able to tackle those items. If it’s a beautiful day outside, try to find a cafe nearby where you can work and enjoy some sunshine. If your company offers work-from-home alternatives, consider taking advantage of them every once in a while. Sometimes just being able to work uninterrupted and in a difference space can give you the reset you need.

It’s no mystery that heavy repetition can lead to burnout. If you have a job that requires doing the same task all day or at least a few times a week, try to put a positive spin on it. Set goals and push yourself to meet them. Use those goals to compete against yourself to keep things from getting boring. When you hit those goals, don’t forget to reward yourself!

Experiencing daily stress and experiencing burnout are often such similar feelings, that many don’t know the difference. If your “stress” occurs daily and you don’t see how or when it can improve, you might be closer to burnout that you think. Know the signs and know what steps you can take to prevent feeling burnout before it happens. The number one person who can prevent your burnout is you!

About The Author

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz has nearly a decade of experience providing HR expertise to employees and management in higher education. Her broad experience includes benefits, compensation, performance management, employee relations, payroll, talent acquisition and management. She received her masters degree from American Military University and maintains a PHR certification.

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