Burnout – feeling overworked and overstressed – is a problem for many professionals today. Work piles up and we all know the feeling of having a to-do list that seems to get longer instead of shorter as the week wears on.
A recent survey by Kimble Applications of professionals who submit billable hours show that one-third feel burnt-out from the excess hours they put in. Around 21 percent of US professionals said they were looking for another job because of burnout. But others don’t feel that changing jobs is the answer and aim to stay put despite them.
So if changing jobs is not the answer for you, are there ways to reduce or avoid burning out while staying in place?
1 Take Control of Your Time
Feeling in control is linked to stronger feelings of engagement at work. Set reasonable expectations about when you are going to be available and then meet them. It shouldn’t be necessary to be “always on”. It may suit others to send email at strange times, but you don’t have to reply immediately. I have noticed in the past that when I send email on a Sunday night people sometimes respond right away. But it would never be my intention to set that expectation – a reply on Monday morning would be fine.
The digital workplace where people log on from far-flung locations, collaborating with others in different time zones, works best where autonomous staff members self-manage supported by technology. Having the flexibility to work when it suits you is a plus – so make sure you work at the times you are able to be most effective. After all, getting through your workload and ticking off that to-do list is more important than being seen to fire off emails round the clock.
2 Be Part of a Strong Team
Knowing that you are part of a high-performing team is another key to getting through those busy periods where the work seems endless without feeling crushed. Feeling that the people around you have your back and that you have theirs is a great place to start each day and to meet the challenges that a difficult job presents.
Taking coffee breaks, eating together at lunchtime, having regular get-togethers are all part of a strategy for avoiding burn-out while building stronger relationships with colleagues. Having friendships at work makes it easier to ask for help if there is too much on your plate or you find you have bitten off more than you can chew.
In a recent podcast for Kimble, entrepreneurial advisor Dom Moorhouse discusses his research showing that feeling part of a high-performing team is the biggest motivating factor for many professionals. Moorhouse also mentions the importance of good humor and a bit of laughter – in his experience the most productive and professional workplaces are those where people also enjoy being there.
3 Monitor Your Hours
So how many extra hours are you putting in? It is important to keep an accurate record. It may not, in fact, be as many as you think. If you take a rigorous note of the times you work and don’t work you are in a better position to make decisions about it.
Perhaps you sit down to work one evening but then actually spend a while on the phone and then get sidetracked on social media. So when you log the time carefully you may find you only had your nose to the grindstone for 30 minutes. You may be better to stay at the office for an extra half hour and then relax.
But if you find you actually have to work 20 hours to do what someone else said you would do by the end of the day, that is an issue for the business in the long term. If you track and monitor your hours then you have a case to present to management about the need to improve the situation.