Tips from a CEO: How to Keep from Getting Burnt Out
No matter what level of management you occupy, anyone from the CEO to the newest intern can find themselves burning out. After days, weeks, and months of putting every bit of yourself into your job, you might wake up one day and realize that you have absolutely nothing left to give—not a situation anyone wants to find themselves in. According to studies by the American Psychological Association and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, 53% of people say that work leaves them “overtired and overwhelmed.” Meanwhile, people list “burnout from my current job” as one of the top reasons for quitting.
While there are ways to cope when you find yourself burned out, and ways to pull yourself back together, it’s possible to make sure the situation never gets as bad as all that. As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” After all, even if you put 100% of yourself into your work, if you burn yourself out, then you have nothing left. And 100% of nothing is still nothing.
So how can you avoid burning out? Here are just a few tips you can use to organize your work life and balance it so that you don’t find yourself hating life.
Read the writing on the wall
One of the first steps to avoiding burnout is to recognize it when you see it coming. If you wait to fix the problem until you’ve already descended into despair, you’re already two steps behind. By the time you’ve burned out, you have less energy to motivate yourself to find a way out of it. Pay attention for signs of burnout.
Recently PatientPop, an online marketing platform for medical practices, published their research and advice on how doctors can prevent burnout. In their report they identified three primary symptoms to watch for:
- Emotional exhaustion
- Reduced personal accomplishment
There are all sorts of signs that can indicate you’re starting to burn out, so keep an eye out for them so you can act before things get too bad. And like with any personal struggle, admitting that there is a problem is the first step. Once you recognize and admit that you are feeling burnt out you can begin taking action.
Start a daily ritual
It may seem simple or even silly, but actively schedule some time each day to do something to recharge your batteries. Don’t let other work preempt this time—make it a “must-do.” This time can be spent for anything that helps you to decompress, allowing you to get back to work afterwards with renewed energy. Some people read, others exercise, and still others take some time to actively do nothing. What you do with this time, and when you fit it into your day, can differ greatly from person to person, so figure out the time and activity that works best for you, then stick with it. This can be during work hours, or it can be before or after. Just make sure that it helps you to recharge.
Take some time to completely disconnect
To prevent the burnout from building up too much, it’s a good idea, every so often, to completely disconnect. Plan it ahead of time, of course, but then just walk away. Leave everything behind—emails, cell phones, anything that ties you to your work. A real vacation can give you an opportunity to breathe without the pressure of work, so take advantage of it.
Change the scenery
Sometimes, you need to get away from your workspace, but sometimes, just changing your workspace can breathe fresh life into your process. If it’s possible, try redecorating your work area, or even rearranging your office. If you can work remotely, consider trying a new venue entirely. Often, a change like this provides a bookend on a period in your life, so close the door on a stressful period and start a fresh, new chapter.
Make sure that you stick to any plans to improve your situation, because it’s easy to start to feel guilty and let it slide. Remember, though, that if you’re happier at work, then you’re going to generate higher quality output, so whatever you’re doing to keep from burning out is actually boosting your work performance. If you need to, have someone else keep you accountable, though try to avoid using a loved one or relative for this purpose. It’s easy for them to let you make excuses and let things slide, even things that are for your own good. The important thing, though, is to make sure that you stick with it. That way, the work you do will be the highest quality possible.
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