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WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JAN. 07, 2017
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The Essential Guide to Preventing Burnout at Work

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Burnout is one of the leading causes of depression, and if you are interested in leading a happy life, you should look for ways to avoid it.

Although it can happen to anyone anywhere, it can happen for example to new parents or a student during his exams; it most commonly affects professionals. Why? Well, because the workplace is where we push ourselves most, and this often results in stressing ourselves too much which is the leading cause of burnout.

It should not be taken lightly because it can affect a person’s mental and physical health. Individuals who suffer from burnout are always exhausted and ineffective at work. No matter how stressed they get about their jobs or how hard they try they don’t produce any results, and as such it can lead to them losing their jobs.

If you suspect that you are suffering from burnout, make sure that you contact your GP as soon as possible.

Strategies to Prevent Burnout

1. Make Sure You Are Not Working Too Much

Sure, we all want to prove ourselves at work, but does that mean that you should stay there for twelve hours or more every day? It begs the question does it make you more productive or just tire you out and make you slower? You’ve probably already read that several organisations in Sweden have shortened their workday to six hours and they didn’t just randomly decide to do that. The decision was based on years of research that prove that employees who work less are more productive.

And it’s not just a matter of maintaining the levels of quality in your work. It’s also a matter of being unable to grow professionally. To advance in the corporate world, employees are always expected to demonstrate features that will distinguish them from the crowd. One of these features is creativity and a person suffering from burnout is highly unlikely to come up with creative ideas. On the contrary, they are likely to obsessively repeat their routine, unable to get out of the vicious cycle.

Of course, sometimes it’s not just a matter of pushing yourself to do more. Sometimes it is expected of you by your boss. Many people in the workforce are tasked with far too many responsibilities and it’s often impossible for them to finish everything they need to do within their eight-hour workday. If this scenario seems familiar, you might want to come up with strategies to reduce your workload.

Do you really need to be doing everything that you do? Is there anything that has become obsolete? Also, do you work in an organised manner that allows you to go through the more difficult tasks at the beginning of the day and the less difficult ones at the end of the day? If all fails, you should talk to your boss about it. There’s no reason to push yourself to burnout if there’s another way to solve the issue.

2. Take Time Off

People who are dedicated to their careers are never eager to take time off, but the reality is that the longer you go without interrupting your routine, the more you are pushing yourself to burnout. Doing new things and having new experiences help us understand that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and is essential for personal development.

Although not commonly discussed in the career context, personal development is an invaluable asset for any employee who wants to climb the career ladder. It distinguishes people who are fit for leadership positions from people who are not and if you are interested in getting such a position you should consider what you can do to develop yourself.

Apart from helping you become better at your job and increasing your chances of advancing your career, taking time off will also help avoid prolonged exhaustion and ineffectiveness in the workplace. No one can think clearly when they keep rotating between tasks, and if you only take a break to sleep, then there’s a good chance that you don’t even remember what makes you so effective at your job.  

There are also plenty of other interests that you should pursue and taking time off allows you to do that. For example, if you love travelling then you need to ensure that you take the time to see at least one new place every year. If on the other hand, you love spending time with friends and family you should make sure to take time off to enjoy their company.

3. Find a Job With a Flexible Work Schedule

Research has found that a flexible work schedule can make all the difference in the world for workers. It allows them to manage their schedule as they see fit which helps avoid feelings of guilt that are common for people who work long hours and it also enhances productivity.

One of the most common issues employees face is that they spend the better part of their day at the office which leaves little time to do anything else, like run errands, pursue hobbies, etc. But, by being given the opportunity to manage your own schedule, you are essentially being given the freedom to pursue other interests as well as be more excited to do your job.

Of course, most bosses are afraid of giving flexibility to their employees as they worry that they will be less concentrated on their work and that this tactic will backfire on them sooner rather than later. But, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t actively look for organisations that understand the benefits of flexibility in the workplace if this is something you care about, or that you shouldn’t talk to your current boss about it.

To be successful in this task, all you really need is to be convincing. Ask them to allow you to give this method a try over a short period of time before they agree or disagree with the idea and make sure that you try very hard to prove that you can do this. Bear in mind that if you are going to adopt a flexible work schedule you are going to need to stick to strict deadlines and if you are planning on working remotely you are going to need to show up at the office every now and then as you don’t want anyone to forget about you. Remember that communicating with your employer and colleagues on a daily basis is also essential.

4. Learn to Value Work-Life Balance

It may seem obvious that all you need to prevent burnout is an effective work-life balance, but the more the workplace becomes incorporated into our daily lives (being able to check job-related emails through our phone for example) the easier it’s to forget all about the need for balance.

But, to avoid burnout, it’s essential that you figure out how to embrace your work-life balance and although contemporary understandings of this ever-elusive term do not define it as the need to divide it your day into equal parts, it’s still necessary to set some time aside for yourself.

A balanced work-life will help make you feel happier at work and improve your overall productivity.

5. Create Your Own Circle of Support

Burnout often results in isolation as people who are suffering it usually push themselves to work so hard that they end up ruining relationships with everyone around them, whether that’s friends, family or colleagues. But, one of the strongest prevention measures is having a close circle of people that can support you.

Whether what you need is to be angry or emotional, it’s important to have someone who you can lash out at after work. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits that a circle of support can offer you is that they’ll be able to remind you of what really matters in life, so when you are overworking and pushing yourself to extremes they will be able to snap you back into reality and remind you that it’s not all about work.

If your workplace is a bit too much, then you may want to consider building a circle of friends from the office who you can meet for drinks and talk about how much your work sucks. Although this might sound counter-intuitive, these sessions will help you have a renewed sense of optimism as nothing beats knowing that you have company in a difficult situation.

 

Burnout should not be taken lightly as it can destroy your health, and hurt your chances of either advancing your career or keeping your job. If you suspect that you may be suffering from it, check out our symptoms checklist and make sure that you ask for support sooner rather than later. Remember that to succeed in the professional world you need to enjoy what you do.

Have you ever suffered from burnout at work? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments section below…

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