4 Tips to Avoid Burnout


Burnout can happen to anyone. You are striving to achieve your work goals and the people in your life need your attention as well. You have deadlines that you need to meet, family members that are craving your attention, and hobbies that you haven’t been able to do in ages.

When you feel burnt out, no one wins. You’re exhausted, irritable, angry, tired, sad, and stressed. Your family and friends aren’t getting your best attention. And, your productivity levels at work are dropping.

If this sounds familiar, here are some things that can help:

1. Schedule downtime and unplug

This one might sound obvious. Of course, taking time off from work can help you to avoid burnout. We all know it, but we don’t live it.

Logically speaking, we know that it would be good for us to take a vacation day every now and again. Or, even just to plan in some time to our week to really relax and recharge even if it’s not accomplishing anything that moves us towards our goals. But, we just can’t bring ourselves to do it because there is so much to do and so little time in which to do it.

An article on the Harvard Business Review addresses the importance of downtime. It references an experiment that found, “forcing employees to take days, nights, or extended periods of time off actually increased productivity.”

During this downtime, it’s important to give yourself a break from the constant alerts and notifications from technology. Step away from your phone, laptop, smartwatch, and every other device that “connects” you and spend time connecting with the people and world that’s actually around you. Allow yourself time to be bored.

2. Quit trying to find “balance”

You probably fall into one of two categories here:

  1. You are striving to find work-life balance and just can’t seem to succeed at it.
  2. You’re sick of hearing about work-life balance and gave up a long time ago.

I think it’s time to change your thinking when it comes to balancing work and life. The truth is, there is no balance. Life is constantly changing and adapting. We are growing, our businesses are changing, our families are changing. Thinking that you’re going to find this “balance” in your life is just not realistic. Even if you think that you’ve found it, it’s going to change right away anyway.

Stop trying to achieve balance and just work on doing the best you can for both work and life. Take time to really identify your priorities and then focus on giving your time and attention to them. When you’re at work, be all-in at work. When you’re at home, be all-in at home. Stop bringing work home with you. Stop checking your email (or other messaging apps) when you’re supposed to be spending time with family and friends. It’s rude.

When you’re at work, stop feeling guilty about the time you’re not spending at home. If you feel bad about being away from your family so much, then find workarounds. Can you set different hours for your work? Take a vacation with them? Pay more attention to them and less attention to Netflix or ESPN every night?

When you do this, you’re going to find that you feel more “balanced” then you did before. Striving to find work-life balance can be just one more thing that burns you out in the end.

3. Love what you’re doing

Have you ever heard the saying, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”? My family was chatting with a truck driver last year at a rest area in Tennessee and he used this saying to describe his job. He loves driving trucks across the country. He enjoys seeing the different states and getting to meet different people. And, he said because he enjoys it so much it never feels like work.

If you don’t love the work that you’re doing, you’re going to get burnt out a lot easier. But if you are really passionate about what you’re doing then your passion can motivate you and energize you.

If you find yourself in a place where you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, start looking for something else to do.

But, keep in mind that loving what you do doesn’t mean you’ll never feel burnt out again. This might work for some, but if you are burning the candle at both ends, it’s going to catch up with you eventually. Your body and mind need rest.

4. Create and follow a plan

Having a plan for your work can help you to feel less burned out. When I first starting using the SPEARity app, I was really frustrated that I could only put six things on my daily spear. I was used to trying to jam pack my daily to-do list. But, as I worked on following the system and choosing my six for each day, I started to understand.

Before, when I was piling things onto my daily list, I wasn’t accomplishing all of them. I was simply moving most of my list to the following day over and over again. This was a lot of stress on my mind because I always felt like I was behind.

But when I started to focus on the six priorities for each day, it changed everything. Not only was I able to make more progress in the right areas, but I didn’t feel so burnt out and behind all the time.

A business coach can help

If you’re burnt out and struggling, working with a business coach can help. Contact a SPEARity coach today to discuss your options. We are SPEARity, a local Milwaukee business coaching firm that specializes in executive coaching and leadership development training.

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