How to Avoid Burning out at Work

When you’re on the job it’s easy to get wrapped up in what you’re doing and forget to take a break now and then. However, not doing so and choosing to work excessively or skipping breaks can be harmful to your body and overall wellness to the point that your long-term performance suffers. That’s right. Overworking yourself often leads to less work getting done in the long run. Burnout is essentially a physical or mental breakdown caused by stress or overworking. It’s a social issue that has become a regular consequence to millions of workers long before and after it was coined back in the 1970s. Certain symptoms have been associated with burnout in the past such as exhaustion, reduced performance in everyday tasks, difficulty in concentrating, feeling listless, alienating oneself from others and becoming easily frustrated or stressed — it’s also possible to experience physical issues such as stomach pain or headaches.

I’ve personally had my own burnout struggles while working a demanding office job. I can understand the real strain it has on your career, your future and even your happiness. Because I felt burned out at my job, even after leaving my desk I couldn’t stop thinking about all the things I had to get done. There never seemed to be enough time in the day and that was my excuse for overworking myself. There should never be an excuse to push yourself past your breaking point — even a job.

Check out some of my shared tips below on how to avoid burning out at work, I also encourage everyone to share your own experiences in the comment section below this post.

Start the day off right.

Wake up to the time you set on your clock the night before. You want to have time to complete most morning tasks without feeling overly rushed or unorganized. Save yourself from a stressful morning by having an idea of what you would like to do before you sleep.

Will you eat breakfast? Will you shower? Do you know what you’ll be wearing? By knowing what you have in the fridge you can save time by picking something out immediately. If you like long showers and know you’ll be in there for awhile, set a timer for when you need to get out or wake up five minutes earlier. Set an outfit on the side to put on so you don’t stress over finding something or realizing you forgot to do laundry.

If you have Google Maps or the iPhone Map app installed on your smartphone you can check the traffic. Navigational tools will help you prepare for delays accordingly and ideally, you should arrive a few minutes early to work. This will allow you to start up your computer and other equipment, hang your things up, grab some coffee or use the lavatory down the hall if needed.

Arrive on time to work, leave on time.

Arriving exactly the time your shift starts will cause you to feel restrained and unorganized. If you leave your desk to grab a coffee or some other task, even if you feel it will only take “a few moments”, you risk your employer checking in on you and misunderstanding why you weren’t at your desk at the beginning of the work day. Arriving a few moments earlier to work will ultimately lower your stress level and help you mentally prepare yourself to start work when you’re scheduled.

When it nears the end of the day, you should start preparing at least a half hour before you finish your shift. Don’t start any projects or tasks that will cause you to stay past your work schedule, even if it’s a few minutes. If work ends around 5:00p or rush hour and you’d work a little longer before driving home to avoid traffic jams, stop working on your main responsibilities and switch doing something for yourself. You can check your phone or turn it on if it was off during work hours. The idea is to stop working and do something for yourself, being able to take yourself out of work mode is extremely important to feeling less stressed and eventually overwhelmed from working.

Unless you’re being paid to work overtime or compensated in some way by your company, you shouldn’t take it upon yourself to continue working past your billed hours. Doing so will not only harm you down the road health-wise but can also start a big legal issue for your employer. Companies who earn $500,000 or more annually are usually covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and are required to pay their employees overtime. If you feel that your company is mistreating you by restraining overtime funds you’ve earned, it’s important to consider reporting it to the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Depart. of Labor.

Take a lunch break along with several mini breaks.

Similar to working overtime to catch up on assignments and sacrifice time you could spend that time on yourself, you should never skip lunch or forget to take breaks when working a full day. Have you ever been stuck on solving a homework problem in school, or perhaps playing a popular app game on your phone and having trouble beating a level? Did you experience leaving the issue and returning to it, later on, to find yourself clearing it without much strife? Great. Treat lunch and breaks at work the same way. If you work nonstop for hours upon hours without reenergizing your body, you’ll eventually find it difficult to concentrate and might even (gasp!) break down. You’re only human, which means you have a physical and mental limit that you’ll reach before long if you go without proper nutrition or allowing your mind a chance to revitalize itself with a pause from the mental hustle and bustle.

If you work nonstop for hours upon hours without reenergizing your body, you’ll eventually find it difficult to concentrate and might even (gasp!) break down. You’re only human, which means you have a physical and mental limit that you’ll reach before long if you go without proper nutrition or allowing your mind a chance to revitalize itself with a pause from the mental hustle and bustle.

Prioritize before starting your week or day.

Track deadlines and make sure to communicate with coworkers or superiors immediately when you think or know you won’t be able to meet the timeline set. If possible, consult with someone on your team on what tasks need to be completed or prioritized above others. It helps to write due dates or important events on the company calendar (e.g. through Outlook or Google Drive) or tracking them through an online organizational tool like Toodledo. If possible, assign a daily or weekly goal. If you have a list of assignments to complete and strategies to do so you’ll feel immediately less burdened because you know what you have to do with a timeframe attached. You can prioritize tasks in any way you’d like. Whether it be by color labeling or using priority-level categories like, high, medium or low. When you receive new tasks throughout the week you can sort them into your list or schedule immediately so you don’t forget to do so later on.

Consider a career change.

One reason you might have for feeling burned out in your current situation is because you don’t particularly feel fit for it. Look back in time to when you initially accepted the position, how did you feel? Excited? Relieved? It can be difficult for anyone to find a job. It’s understandable if you took on the role in order to pay the bills, or believing it would be a good choice. Maybe it was a job you read about or imagined yourself doing and once you entered the specific field started having second thoughts or feeling unsatisfied in some way. You have no obligation to stay in a job you feel is hindering your ability to live a healthy and fulfilling life. There are always opportunities to explore out there and the sooner you focus on finding one that fits your wants and needs, the sooner you’ll avoid burning out due to a stressful job you’re unsuited to perform. A good way to start searching is to pick three things you like and connect them to jobs. For me I chose, dogs, reading, writing. With options such as a veterinarian, book publisher, journalist (or blogger!).