Everyone has a bad workday every now and then—it’s normal. Part of being an adult is understanding that nothing is perfect all of the time. When every day becomes a bad workday, you may be facing burnout.
We live in a society where we’re bombarded with messages about “having it all.” From Martha Stewart ironing her sheets on television to beautiful Pinterest pins featuring young people at exotic locales, we’re surrounded by FOMO (fear of missing out), so we push ourselves at work to afford all of the things commercials and social media say we need to have a full life. Even the most forward-thinking Millennials want to have it all, and with that desire often comes burnout.
Here are a few things you can do to prevent burnout:
1. Learn to Say “No.”
The absolute most important thing you must do to prevent burnout is to learn the art of saying “no” in a way that still leaves people loving you. It’s not as hard as it sounds—you simply have to think from the other person’s perspective.
For example, say your boss asks you if you can get a major report done by the end of the day. You already have five client meetings lined up, and you have a ton of prep work to get done before those meetings. To do the report would mean working an extra 4-6 hours, which isn’t fair to you or anyone else. You’ll be exhausted tomorrow, and that means your work will suffer.
Instead of killing yourself to do the report, tell your boss the truth first. Say something like, “I would love to, but I have to meet with some of our biggest clients today and I’m afraid the meetings will take my entire day.” You’ve acknowledged that the report is a priority, but that you are already tackling other priorities. What you say next makes all the difference.
Now, you should tell your boss what you can do. Think of a suggestion for how your boss can still get what he needs. Try something like, “If I outline the report this morning before my meetings, do you think that maybe Sally can finish the report for you?” This gives your boss part of what he wants, and gives a suggestion of how to finish the project. You look great, and you prevent burnout from overworking, too.
2. Manage Your Stress
Managing stress is easier said than done for most of us. You have to find time for self-care and relaxation or you will inevitably burn out. While there are many ways you can manage stress, here is a list to get you started:
- Take short breaks throughout the workday
- Practice mindfulness
- Take a real lunch break (not just a microwave desk meal while working)
- Have an exercise routine
Having an exercise routine is especially important if you sit in a chair typing all day. If you don’t pay attention to your body’s signals, you may find yourself having to hire a personal injury attorney to recover lost wages from on-the-job accidents often caused by burnout. It’s not a good scenario, so if you’ve been putting off signing up for a yoga class, now’s the time to commit.
3. Have a Life Outside of Work
Work is a big part of your life, but it can’t be your entire life. You have to find balance between climbing the corporate ladder and spending time with family and friends. We see a great many people focus so hard on getting a big promotion or finishing a gigantic project that they have no personal life at all, which leads to burnout quickly.
You need interests beyond your work. If you’re struggling to find a hobby, try scrolling through the “things to do” section of Groupon. We’ve taken painting classes, pottery courses, museum specialty tours, fishing trips—you name it. It’s our go-to place when we’re out of ideas for things to do.
4. Find Meaning in Your Work
If your work seems meaningless to you, it’s time to find a new job. Lately, we’ve worked with a lot of clients who are stuck in a rut, hating their jobs, facing burnout, yet they make every excuse to stay where they are. Change is hard, but it’s part of life. Sometimes maturity means recognizing that what you are doing isn’t working for you. If you’re stuck, find the courage to make a move—any move—to do something different than what you are currently doing.
Finding meaningful work may mean trying a variety of jobs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The world is an abundant place, full of jobs in all industries for people of all talents. If you feel like your work is meaningless, tidy up your resume and start applying for other opportunities. There’s an indeed and a Zip Recruiter full of jobs, just waiting for you.
5. Recognize the Signs of Burnout
One of the best things you can do to prevent burnout is to know the signs that you may be burning out so that you can start making changes to prevent it. Here are a few things to look for in determining if you are burning out:
- You feel “stuck” in our job
- You feel overwhelmed almost every day
- You are too tired to do anything after work but eat and sleep
- Your attitude stinks
- You neglect yourself or your home (See that pile of dishes you haven’t washed in a week?)
If you think you are burning out, at the very least, take a couple sick or personal days to reflect on your overall mental and physical health. Evaluate if it’s time for a change, and if it is, be brave enough to make it.
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