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Published on August 19, 2019

How to Deal with Feelings of Burnout at Work

How to Deal with Feelings of Burnout at Work

Have you ever faced this scenario? Work is not going well for you. Despite your best efforts over the last few months to complete all your tasks and hit your targets, you realize that you’re not only going to fail on both these counts — but you’ve burned yourself out in the process.

How does this make you feel?

Not great, I would guess.

However, I sympathize, as when I first started working as a software engineer at Red Hat, I thought the secret to success was to work as hard and as much as possible. But I was wrong. This approach simply led me to a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.

So how about you? Are you suffering from work burnout?

Here are a few warning signs that you might be:

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  • Disillusionment about your job
  • Difficulty concentrating on the tasks at hand
  • Abusing food, drugs or alcohol to help you cope with work stress
  • Breakdown of your sleeping habits
  • Lack of motivation (do you have trouble getting started on projects?)
  • Cynical attitude towards your work
  • Irritability or impatience with co-workers and clients

If you’re experiencing some or all of these symptoms, I recommend talking to a health professional about your concerns. This is important because, burnout — if not addressed — can lead to health issues such as: anxiety, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Why We Experience Burnout

According to Psychology Today, burnout is more than just the result of working long days and weeks. It’s also to do with how much control over their job a person feels they have.[1] If they feel that they have little control, this can — over time — lead to fatigue, cynicism, depression, and eventually burnout.

Other factors that can lead to burnout include:

  • Working towards a goal that doesn’t resonate with the individual.
  • Lack of support, either in the home of office (or both).
  • Failure to take adequate breaks from work.
  • Unclear job expectations.
  • Extremes of activity (think monotonous or chaotic tasks).
  • Loss of work-life balance.

As I’ve already pointed out, if you allow yourself to burnout, you’ll be faced with a mountain of physical and mental health problems. Which is why it’s so important that you tackle this issue head on.

I’ve coached many people who have suffered from work burnout, and I’ve started to notice some typical risk factors:

  • They try to do everything and please everyone.
  • They have a huge workload.
  • They often work overtime.
  • They work in a helping profession, such as health care or teaching.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these?

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If yes, don’t worry, as I’m about to share with you four techniques that will help you defeat the causes of work burnout.

How to Overcome Burnout

1. Pinpoint Your Purpose

To overcome burnout, having a sense of purpose is extremely important. Whether it’s in a broad way, such as the nature of your career, or finding small purpose in tasks you perform day to day. 

So, do you know your purpose in life 

If not, I suggest you make it a goal to find it (this article will help you out).

Research shows that people who have meaning and purpose in life have higher levels of life satisfaction and well-being, as well as having superior physical and mental health.

2. Reassess Your Options at Work

If you’re experiencing burnout, there may be a specific reason for it.

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For example, are you in a role that doesn’t suit your skills, talents and personality? And, how about the hours you work–are you doing too many?

If these factors (or similar ones) are pushing you to the edge, then it will definitely be worth your time talking to your boss or your HR representative about it. They may be able to offer you some solutions to help reduce the pressure and stress on you.

3. Engage in Self-Care

Here’s a favorite quote of mine by Richard Louv, a quote that I’m sure you’ll find thought-provoking:

“Time spent in nature is the most cost-effective and powerful way to counteract the burnout and sort of depression that we feel when we sit in front of a computer all day.”

Richard hits the nail on the head in this quote, as there’s no doubt that sitting in front of a computer for 35+ hours a week is detrimental to our physical and mental health.

However, spending time in nature is just one way to fight work burnout. The following article lists a whole lot more: 30 Self Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

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I recommend you read the article, adopt some of the ideas, and start moving your life away from burnout.

4. Get Support from a Professional

Whether you seek guidance from a mental health professional or a career counselor, oftentimes having a second (and reliable) opinion can be a key to overcoming and preventing burnout. 

These specialists can help you assess the root of your burnout, as well as giving you strategies and goals to enable you to overcome it.

Final Thoughts

Try not to let a demanding or unrewarding job undermine your health and your confidence. Instead, begin putting into action the tips I’ve shared with you today: 

Finding your life purpose, reassessing your options at work, taking better care of yourself, and seeking the support of a professional.

 Burnout is a serious thing — so start taking serious action to tackle it right now.

Featured photo credit: Nik MacMillan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: Burnout

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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