Feeling a little burned out in your job or career? Perhaps you are feeling it and don’t even realize that’s what it is! Whether you already recognize burnout or not, it’s a good time to evaluate whether you have it and what to do it about it, if you do. Burnout can be disastrous for both you and the company, so the sooner you spot it and address it, the better off everyone will be.
First, however, it’s important to identify exactly what burnout is. My definition of burnout is when you feel your efforts are fruitless and that you have lost all enthusiasm for work over a sustained period of time (typically at least four consecutive weeks). If you have just a few lackluster days, or even a few weeks of them, it could just be a simple anomaly. But when that “lacklusterness” goes on for a month or more, you, my friend, are burned out.
Here are six tricks to overcoming burnout:
1. Take an extended break. There is a saying, “everything in moderation.” That includes work. Burnout is often a loud and clear signal that you need to take a break. Take a break from work, even if it is a few days. But here is the key: it must be a complete break. No laptop, no iPad, no cell phone, no nothing.
2. Start relaxed – Too many people jump out of bed, race through breakfast and on to work. In other words, stress, stress, and more stress. Instead, start relaxed. Adopt a morning ritual that includes stretching, exercising, relaxing, meditation and/or reading. Just like you slowly warm up before exercise, you want to slowly warm up your mind & body before working.
3. Regular breaks – Working straight through the day is not productive and has even been proven scientifically not to be effective. Change your schedule to work in a short burst (ideally 60 to 90 minutes), then take a 15 to 20 minute break. Make sure the break allows your mind to totally disconnect from work. Go for a walk, talk with friends about the past weekend, or read your favorite magazine.
4. Avoid the news – In some cases, burnout is a result of depression. The constant negativity perpetuated by news reports, over time, gives many people the false belief that all of life is horrible. And with that comes depression and burnout. Try not watching or reading the news for 30 days. It may be the perfect burnout cure.
5. Change what you eat – Similar to keeping negative junk out of your mind (as in the previous point), you need to keep junk out of your stomach. A poor diet can not only suck the energy out of you, it can also mess with your mind. Improve your diet and, in many cases, you will see a rise in energy and a rise in your attitude.
6. Write down why – Spend the time necessary to figure out why you are doing what you do. Is it a stepping stone to another goal? Is what you do serving a greater purpose than just making money? Once you know why you do what you do, the passion may return and the burnout out will go away.
If all else fails, it may be an indicator that you need to permanently leave the situation you are in. When this is the case, you need to figure out your escape path. Specifically, determine where you ideally want to be in life (not just monetarily, but also what you wand to be doing, etc.). Then determine all the steps you need to take to get there. Can you find a career in that field? Can you take a small immediate step in the right direction? Can you take a night class? Whatever you do, once you have the “escape plan,” start working on it immediately. After all, it is your best means of escape to a better, more fulfilling way of life.