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Last Updated on October 12, 2017

How to Fix Burning out at Work and Get Back on Track

How to Fix Burning out at Work and Get Back on Track

Anyone that has held a job for a few years, even six months, may have encountered burnout. Burnout can be physical or mental exhaustion.

The passion that once flamed for the job has burned out and you are left dreading the feeling of going into work. You may have anxiety or are constantly overwhelmed. The constant stress has you in fight or flight and your energy is gone.

Burnout is more than working hard, burnout affects all areas of your life. At work, your productivity goes down, you may feel cynical and resentful at the job and you can’t seem to find the answers that are usually right in front of you.

At home, you may have a short fuse with your family and struggle to wake up and get out the door. At night you may zone out completely and have a hard time focusing on what matters.

Why Do We Burn Out

A typical job schedule in the United States is 40 hours a week. You may work a little less some weeks and a little more other weeks. Some people work a lot more than 40 hours a week, every week.

When you spend this kind of time in one place, it is easy to see that a person can burnout. To be more specific, some of the reasons people burn out are:

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  • Job repetition
  • Low salary
  • High volume of workload
  • Staying in the same place for too long
  • No room for advancement
  • Lack of social connection

There are many contributing factors to burnout, and it can vary by person. Burnout for one person may come a lot later than someone else. The breaking point for each person can change. It is important to recognize the causes and the symptoms of burnout so you can make a shift.

What Everyone Is Wrong About Burning Out

Before we dive into how to fix a burnout, I want to bust the myths many have about burning out. Only by understanding burn out more will you be able to fix it from the root.

Myth #1: Because you’re burned out, you are weak or cannot handle stress.

This is not the case, in fact, burning out is the opposite. It is your body’s way of showing you that it is time to slow down so you can handle the stress.

When you burnout, your body and your mental brain can become cluttered. When you recognize this, you can make a shift and reevaluate what you are working toward. Our natural instinct is to blame ourselves. However, no one is made to handle that stress load for long periods of time.

When you look at successful entrepreneurs and see the load in which they carry each day, you have to recognize that they have tools in place to support them and a team to help. No one person, can do it all.

Myth #2: You should keep burnout a secret.

If you keep burnout a secret, you are risking your well being. I am not asking you to stand on top of your desk at work and scream out loud saying that you are tired. What I am saying is to find a partner to communicate with. This can be a co-worker, a friend, or your partner.

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The Burnout Fixing Plan

Fixing burnout could be a simple self care routine that you implement each day or it can be jetting off for a week of unplugged vacation time.

There are many strategies that can support you and here are a few of my favorites.

Set a Goal and Stick to It

Take a look at your current goals, do you have too many things to focus on, but lose the focus for the most important things? Maybe what mattered two years ago when you took this job no longer matters now.

Either way, take a look at your goals and assess what you want to keep and what you want to let go.

Activity breeds more activity. When you start to get busy, life gives you more things to do. You have to get clear on what matches your goals and is aligned with your long term plan.

Get More Sleep No Matter What

Late night work may have seemed productive for some; but the reality is it hurts more than it helps. Let go of the late nights and hit the pillow sooner.

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When you get more sleep, you can better handle the problems that life throws at you. Instead of reacting, you can create a plan and start shifting.

If you are afraid of not getting enough done, take a look at your priorities and start looking at what is on your plate that does not matter.

Go to bed early and wake up early before everyone else. You can get 8 hours of sleep and work for 90 minutes uninterrupted in the morning.

It may take practice, yet when you show up each day and make this a new habit, it will become easier.

Don’t Skip Breaks

A vacation allows you to temporarily leave the stressor. When you get into an argument with your partner, you may allow yourself to walk away before you resume the argument to make sure you don’t yell.

This applies to work too. If you find yourself on a short fuse, take time off. If your natural instinct is to shut everyone out and become a hermit when times get tough, take a break. Separate yourself from the stressor.

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The break will help you regain your focus and you can spend some time shutting off your brain to reset.

Reset Your Body, Reset Your Brain

Right now you may be thinking, I can’t just leave my job this week. I have two major projects due and I have a coffee date planned. That is okay, start small and build up.

Start tonight by setting an alarm on your phone an hour before bed. When the alarm goes off, write down your number one priority for tomorrow, plan out your day, and brush your teeth. Go to bed fifteen minutes earlier and get more sleep.

Taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for yourself if you are feeling overwhelmed.

More by this author

RebeccaLynn Bologna

MBA, Mom mentor and Business coach

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Published on July 17, 2018

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

I’ve never believed people are born productive or organized. Being organized and productive is a choice.

You choose to keep your stuff organized or you don’t. You choose to get on with your work and ignore distractions or you don’t.

But one skill very productive people appear to have that is not a choice is the ability to compartmentalize. And that takes skill and practice.

What is compartmentalization

To compartmentalize means you have the ability to shut out all distractions and other work except for the work in front of you. Nothing gets past your barriers.

In psychology, compartmentalization is a defence mechanism our brains use to shut out traumatic events. We close down all thoughts about the traumatic event. This can lead to serious mental-health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if not dealt with properly.

However, compartmentalization can be used in positive ways to help us become more productive and allow us to focus on the things that are important to us.

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Robin Sharma, the renowned leadership coach, calls it his Tight Bubble of Total Focus Strategy. This is where he shuts out all distractions, turns off his phone and goes to a quiet place where no one will disturb him and does the work he wants to focus on. He allows nothing to come between himself and the work he is working on and prides himself on being almost uncontactable.

Others call it deep work. When I want to focus on a specific piece of work, I turn everything off, turn on my favourite music podcast The Anjunadeep Edition (soft, eclectic electronic music) and focus on the content I intend to work on. It works, and it allows me to get massive amounts of content produced every week.

The main point about compartmentalization is that no matter what else is going on in your life — you could be going through a difficult time in your relationships, your business could be sinking into bankruptcy or you just had a fight with your colleague; you can shut those things out of your mind and focus totally on the work that needs doing.

Your mind sees things as separate rooms with closable doors, so you can enter a mental room, close the door and have complete focus on whatever it is you want to focus on. Your mind does not wander.

Being able to achieve this state can seriously boost your productivity. You get a lot more quality work done and you find you have a lot more time to do the things you want to do. It is a skill worth mastering for the benefits it will bring you.

How to develop the skill of compartmentalization

The simplest way to develop this skill is to use your calendar.

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Your calendar is the most powerful tool you have in your productivity toolbox. It allows you to block time out, and it can focus you on the work that needs doing.

My calendar allows me to block time out so I can remove everything else out of my mind to focus on one thing. When I have scheduled time for writing, I know what I want to write about and I sit down and my mind completely focuses on the writing.

Nothing comes between me, my thoughts and the keyboard. I am in my writing compartment and that is where I want to be. Anything going on around me, such as a problem with a student, a difficulty with an area of my business or an argument with my wife is blocked out.

Understand that sometimes there’s nothing you can do about an issue

One of the ways to do this is to understand there are times when there is nothing you can do about an issue or an area of your life. For example, if I have a student with a problem, unless I am able to communicate with that student at that specific time, there is nothing I can do about it.

If I can help the student, I would schedule a meeting with the student to help them. But between now and the scheduled meeting there is nothing I can do. So, I block it out.

The meeting is scheduled on my calendar and I will be there. Until then, there is nothing I can do about it.

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Ask yourself the question “Is there anything I can do about it right now?”

This is a very powerful way to help you compartmentalize these issues.

If there is, focus all your attention on it to the exclusion of everything else until you have a workable solution. If not, then block it out, schedule time when you can do something about it and move on to the next piece of work you need to work on.

Being able to compartmentalize helps with productivity in another way. It reduces the amount of time you spend worrying.

Worrying about something is a huge waste of energy that never solves anything. Being able to block out issues you cannot deal with stops you from worrying about things and allows you to focus on the things you can do something about.

Reframe the problem as a question

Reframing the problem as a question such as “what do I have to do to solve this problem?” takes your mind away from a worried state into a solution state, where you begin searching for solutions.

One of the reasons David Allen’s Getting Things Done book has endured is because it focuses on contexts. This is a form of compartmentalization where you only do work you can work on.

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For instance, if a piece of work needs a computer, you would only look at the work when you were in front of a computer. If you were driving, you cannot do that work, so you would not be looking at it.

Choose one thing to focus on

To get better at compartmentalizing, look around your environment and seek out places where you can do specific types of work.

Taking your dog for a walk could be the time you focus solely on solving project problems, commuting to and from work could be the time you spend reading and developing your skills and the time between 10 am and 12 pm could be the time you spend on the phone sorting out client issues.

Once you make the decision about when and where you will do the different types of work, make it stick. Schedule it. Once it becomes a habit, you are well on your way to using the power of compartmentalization to become more productive.

Comparmentalization saves you stress

Compartmentalization is a skill that gives you time to deal with issues and work to the exclusion of all other distractions.

This means you get more work done in less time and this allows you to spend more time with the people you want to spend more time with, doing the things you want to spend more time doing.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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