Five Tips to Prevent Job Burnout

female employee stressed and burned out over her computer

If you are worried about burning out in your job, you aren’t alone. Statistics show that the impact of job stress and the lingering effects of the pandemic are causing a surge in burnout among employees on the job.

Burnout is not all in your head, either.  Burnout is listed as an occupational phenomenon in the newest International Classification of Diseases, according to the World Health Organization. And according to a recent Deloitte survey, 77 percent of respondents say they have experienced employee burnout at their current job.

But burnout doesn’t have to be inevitable. Here are ways to combat, prevent and treat the problem, so you stay healthy, happy and engaged in your career.

1. Bend before you break

The adage an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure applies to burnout. The “hustle culture” mentality of pushing through fatigue can drive people into only taking a break only after it is desperately needed – which can be too little and too late. Taking more frequent breaks – a vacation or even keeping evenings free – can help prevent greater burnout and setbacks in the future.

2. Manage expectations

Saying yes to projects and opportunities at work is necessary, but continuing to add to your plate is a recipe to make your entire output suffer. Knowing when you are approaching capacity will help you manage expectations. Then when requests are incoming, you can better articulate your need for assistance, prioritization or when certain projects just need to wait.

3. Avoid multitasking

We may think we’re accomplishing more when we’re juggling multiple tasks simultaneously. In fact, research shows that multitasking is an illusion that comes from “tasking switching” rapidly. This often produces poor outcomes, drains mental reserves and makes projects end up taking longer. Multitasking means that we’re doing multiple things subpar, when monotasking will usually get things done quicker and more efficiently.

4. Schedule downtime

In today’s work world, there’s almost always “one more thing” you can do, one item to check off your list, one more email to check. This “always on” mentality can wear on you over time and drain your mental and physical reserves. Setting boundaries is important to maintain your focus – which means knowing when to close your laptop or put away your phone. There are multiple ways to do this, including scheduling downtime as an appointment on your work calendar, turning your phone on sleep or silent mode, or just putting your work tools away in another room.

5. Find outside hobbies

Now when you have downtime, it’s important to fill that time with things you enjoy – not just think about more work. Pick up or return to a hobby, give yourself permission to have fun and socialize with others. This may seem basic, but when you’re on the edge of burnout it’s easy to forget these elements that give you energy, fulfillment and renewal.

Burnout is defined by persistence –– it’s a problem that doesn’t go away easily. “Another test is to take a day of rest,” said Robert Bogue, president of AvailTek LLC and co-author of Extinguish Burnout: A Practical Guide to Prevention and Recovery. “If you rest and feel recharged the next day, then it’s probably not burnout. Burnout persists even after you take a break.”

Burnout doesn’t happen in a day, and it can’t be repaired in a day. For this reason, it’s important to be consistent with the above tips to keep burnout at bay.

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