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The Top 3 Candidates for Burnout (and How to Avoid Being One of Them)

The Top 3 Candidates for Burnout (and How to Avoid Being One of Them)

    Even if you love your job, do too much of it, and you’ll hate it.

    That’s the conclusion of Mark Cullen of Stanford Medical School, who studies overworked execs. Pride yourself on your work stamina, how much you can take, and you can get taken—by the terminal exhaustion of burnout. That’s when productivity, not to mention your brain and body tank, but you can opt out of that.

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    Burnout is the last stage of chronic stress, and a job- and life-killer. If you’re good at endurance and believe your value lies in taking more of a pounding than the next person, you are a prime candidate for it. The irony of the professional world is that it’s the hardest workers who fall prey to burnout—1) the most conscientious, 2) the Type A’s, 3) the bravado warriors. They can take more, and so the usual warning signals of stress are ignored. The fact is that humans, as of yet, don’t have Pentium processors, only Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy.

    The hollowing-out of burnout happens gradually. Your body adapts to chronic stress so it looks like you’re handling things, but it’s an illusion. Adrenaline pumped out by the stress response masks the fact that it’s taking your body down and suppressing your immune system.

    Doctors say that when patients arrive with burnout symptoms, there is always a long prelude: Heart palpitations, headaches, back pain, insomnia, irritable bowel, hot flashes, exhaustion. Ignore the signals leading to burnout, and you can wind up adapting to the stress response until your resources are gone, no forwarding. Burnout can trigger stroke, depression and a host of things you can do without, not to mention reduce the sense of accomplishment, interest and joy in your life to zero.

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    Opt Out of Heroics

    Burnout is a three-way shutdown — mind, body, and emotions. It’s the depletion of all your energetic and emotional resources. The result is dramatically lower productivity, guilt, shame, cynicism, falling behind, not giving a whit about what you used to.

    One of the hallmarks of burnout is disengagement, the opposite of getting things done. This makes burnout a big problem for any organization, since it takes down the top talent. Productivity plummets for anyone with burnout, a cause of presenteeism—you’re there physically, but not mentally—and the sick days and medical bills mount.

    Preventing burnout takes a vigilant mind, paying attention to the stress signals and doing something about them, not gutting them out with heroics (which only prolongs and deepens the stress cycle). You have to be proactive and break out of autopilot.

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    Recognize and dump the behaviors that drive the burnout trap—work overload, perfectionism (see “How to Get Work Done Quickly by Not Being Perfect” ), no refueling or recreation, unviable schedules, nonstop busyness (check out this post, “3 Ways to Be Less Busy and More Productive”), chronic conflict, and giving too much of yourself emotionally. It’s also critical to build skills to communicate about key burnout funnels: lack of reward, control, and community, pieces organizations need to address too.

    You Do, Therefore You Are?

    You can turn down the stress by altering the way you do your tasks, deal with stress, expend emotion, and set boundaries. Regular recovery strategies are key to buffer stress and chronic exhaustion, which can be the start of the withdrawal from life that marks the downward spiral of burnout.

    The tendency to overdo it drives the burnout beast, so you’ll need to wean off compulsive behavior. Why is it so hard to turn off the go button and stop? It could be you are getting all your value from performance. When performance is the sum total of your identity, and you pull back from constant busyness and production, you have no value.

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    Do less, and you actually get more done, the research shows. And you just might like your job again.

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    Published on October 14, 2019

    10 Organizational Skills Training Techniques for the Overwhelmed

    10 Organizational Skills Training Techniques for the Overwhelmed

    Do you constantly feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks you have to complete at work? If so, then it may be time to look into some organizational skills training techniques.

    Organizational skills are an asset. They allow you to add structure to your day so that you meet deadlines, attend every meeting, and even have enough time to take your breaks (imagine that!). As transferable skills, they can also add value to your personal life.

    So, if being organized and able to perform at your very best at work, even when you’re inundated with duties, sounds appealing to you, then read on.

    Why You Need Organizational Skills Training

    According to the Cambridge Dictionary, organizational skills refers to:[1]

    “the ability to use your time, energy, resources, etc. in an effective way so that you achieve the things you want to achieve.”

    When you’re feeling overwhelmed at work (or anywhere really) achieving anything seems impossible. This is why organizational skills training is crucial. The skills you learn can help you to overcome the feeling of defeat so you can take command of your tasks again.

    The Benefits of Organizational Skills

    Having organizational skills allow you to not only be more organized, but to also be more productive and more effective. You’ll have greater control of your tasks and be able to accomplish more things. It can also reduce stress-levels, and experiencing less stress means leading a healthier lifestyle.

    Examples of organizational skills include:

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    As previously mentioned, while a major benefit for the workplace, they are also valuable in your personal life.

    Think about it, our personal lives are also filled with many tasks and activities. Whether it’s going to the bank or buy groceries, or doing household duties such as vacuuming or taking out the trash, each responsibility is basically a task that needs to be completed in order for our home lives to run as smoothly as possible.

    How to Learn Organizational Skills

    Many businesses and organizations provide organizational skills training, whether it’s a workshop, company presentation, online training course, or an all-out conference. Attending these events is a great start to learning organizational skills. Then, of course, you can set your own goals.

    For most people, organizational skills don’t come naturally. However, fortunately, just like any other skill, they’re learnable. Once you acquire an understanding of a skill, the more you practice it, the better you’ll get at it.

    If you’re completely new to all of this, your best bet is to start small. Set yourself one goal, select one thing you’d like to improve on, and repeat it regularly until it becomes a habit. Once you’re confident in maintaining the habit, you can add to your goal or expand on it.

    Starting small and gradually adding as you progress is a good course of action, as it can ensure that you actually achieve what you set out to accomplish. If you dive straight into the deep end, you risk being even more overwhelmed than before and may fail to meet expectations completely.

    Surrounding yourself with people that have particular behaviors is another way to learn organizational skills. Having a super organized team leader, manager, or head of business can greatly influence your own actions and behavior.

    10 Organizational Skills Training Techniques

    If you’ve noticed yourself feeling overwhelmed and stressed at work recently, then perhaps you could try out one of the following organizational skills training techniques. They could help you to get back control, focus on your tasks, and reduce stress-levels.

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    1. Make a List

    If you’re feeling swamped with tasks, creating a to-do list is great for taking back control of the things you need to do.

    By writing down your tasks in order of importance (make sure you prioritize your list!), you’ll have a visualization of what needs to get done.

    You’ll also get to experience the feeling of great relief when you get to cross a task off your to-do list when it’s completed!

    2. Don’t Rely on Your Memory

    Even if you have superhuman memory, it’s always a good idea to write everything down.

    From project deadlines, to customer details, to product prices, writing things down can serve as a reminder so you don’t forget the important things when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

    And with most of us carrying around smartphones, you’re never far from a tool where you can write something down.

    3. Schedule

    A huge part of being organized is knowing how to plan, and expert planning involves a lot of scheduling.

    Scheduling is taking a step further than creating a to-do list. Not only do you have the things you need to do recorded, but you have a timetable when you should complete them. This helps you to develop your time management skills as you’re expected to coordinate tasks and activities so that deadlines are met and everything is done on time.

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    4. Learn to Delegate

    Learning to delegate tasks is a valuable skill that will help to keep you organized. Not only will it lighten your workload, but it will sharpen your planning and prioritization skills as you will have to learn which tasks should be done by you and which tasks are okay to be given to someone else.

    5. Avoid Multitasking

    While the idea of attempting to do more than one task simultaneously may seem brilliant, in practice, it’s the complete opposite. Multitasking is known to actually lower your productivity as it diminishes your focus and attention and things become more difficult and take longer to complete.

    6. Minimize Interruptions

    It’s impossible to control every aspect of your environment but it doesn’t hurt to try. By minimizing interruptions while you’re at work, it gives you a better chance of completing them as effectively and efficiently as possible.

    Investing in noise-cancelling headphones or installing a social media block on your desktop are examples of ways you could reduce distractions.

    7. Reduce Clutter

    A notable organizational skills training technique is to create a filing system for your documents. Whether it’s at work or at home, we all accumulate documents that we may not currently need but are too afraid to throw away in case we will need it in the future.

    Having an organized system can allow you to locate necessary documents any time you need them. It also keeps them safeguarded which reduces the chance of losing something important. This filing system applies to both actual paperwork and digital documents.

    8. Organize Your Workspace

    Where we work greatly influences how we work. If you have a cluttered and messy workspace, then the chances of you working in an unorganized fashion can be very high.

    Keeping an organized workspace ensures that you’re able to perform at your most productive. You won’t waste time looking for things that have been misplaced and working in a clutter-free environment can be soothing for your mind.

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    9. Get Rid of What You Don’t Need

    Clutter is known to lead to stress and anxiety.[2] If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, then the sight of clutter can increase that feeling.

    Getting rid of things you no longer need clears out your environment and, hopefully, your mind as well.

    Done with that sticky-note? Throw it away! Inbox is filled to the brim with unread emails? Unsubscribe to newsletters you no longer read! Whatever you no longer require in your physical and digital life, get rid of it.

    Here’s a guide to help you declutter: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

    10. Tidy up Regularly

    While working, it can get easy for your desk to get untidy. You’re focused on work and so keeping everything at your desk in order is probably a lower priority. But it’s something to be conscious of. Doing a regular tidy up can ensure the mess on your desk doesn’t go overboard.

    Whether it’s a quick clean up every day, or a deep clean every month. Being aware of tidying up and fitting it into your routine will help keep you organized and less stressed.

    The Bottom Line

    Possessing organizational skills enables you to get back control of your tasks when you’re feeling overwhelmed and perform better at work. They can make you more productive, more efficient, and of course, more organized.

    Remember, they’re not only valuable at work! Because of their transferability, they can be beneficial in other areas of your life. And really, it doesn’t hurt to be organized at home and socially, as well as at work.

    Featured photo credit: Jeff Sheldon via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Cambridge Dictionary: Organizational Skills
    [2] Psychology Today: Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies

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