7 Strategies to Beat Burnout Without Quitting
Burnout is real - and can affect anyone - but it doesn't mean you have to quit your job, pivot your business or close it down. There are ways to fight burnout without leaving the comfort and security of your current occupation & career. In this article, we'll explore seven key tactics you can use to counteract feelings of exhaustion and regain some balance in your life & work.
1 - Get organised, use your calendar and take breaks
One way to beat burnout is to get really organized. Use your calendar. Create a schedule that allows you to plan out your day, fit in your life, prioritize tasks, and take mini breaks.
Get organized by creating checklists, using technology to automate time-consuming tasks, or setting reminders for yourself throughout the day (see the next point for how to choose which tasks to spend time on at all).
Breaks help create a balance in the workday by allowing your mind to reset. Schedule time in your calendar that’s dedicated for breaks. In fact, when scheduling, start by blocking out the time you will take breaks. This prevents work from taking over your life and leaving no room for restoration.
Set your default meeting times to end 5 minutes before the half hour and 10 minutes before the hour - and use those slots to stand up & stretch, get away from your desk and your screen, and to move your body. This could be as simple as taking 5 minutes to get a snack or 10 minutes for a walk around the block, listening to music or meditating. Directing your attention away from work can help reduce stress and refresh your mind so you can tackle tasks with renewed energy.
2 - (Re-)Evaluate Your Goals & Priorities
If you haven’t got clear goals and priorities - start there. Knowing what you are working towards and what is most important will give you a sense of clarity, focus and control which all help to beat burnout. Ideally, have about 3 goals you’re working towards at any given time.
If you already have your goals and priorities, it’s time to re-assess. Re-assessing and re-evaluating your goals is a chance to decide which projects are the most important in relation to how they help you reach your long-term objectives. Once you know what truly matters, prioritize them and strategically tackle them one by one. Not only does this reduce stress, but it also ensures that you’re focusing on the right tasks at any given moment.
If you’re not sure which goals to prioritise, ask yourself how each one moves you closer to your long term objectives. How much impact does achieving this goal have on your final objective? If the answer is “Not much” that is a sign that you may want to de-prioritise actions that are exclusive to that goal until you have more time.
3 - Create Your Own Support System
Having a good support system in times of stress is one of the most important protective factors when it comes to beating burnout. Invest in relationships with family and friends, including friends at work.
Foster positive relationships at work. People who report having a “work best friend” are less likely to experience burnout. Positive relationships with bosses & colleagues help you to feel seen and appreciated for your contributions, which increases motivation even in tough times. If you have meaningful relationships with workmates and managers, then asking for and receiving help when needed is simpler.
Outside of work, relationships are just as important. We all know how talking to someone outside of work can help you gain perspective and better understand how to deal with job-related stress in a healthy way.
4 - Delegate & Outsource Tasks When Possible
Delegating and outsourcing tasks is a great way to reduce stress and save time, as it takes the strain off you and allows you to focus on what matters most.
However, when delegating tasks, make sure that you’re giving enough detail so that the person you’re assigning the task to will know exactly what needs to be done. This holds double for outsourcing. Many people are afraid of both of these because they worry that the task will not be done as well as if they had done it themselves. Or they worry that they will have to spend just as much time managing the delivery as they would have done completing the task.
Both of those scenarios are possible. Clear deliverables, time frames, criteria for completion and instructions will help with the first. And time and practice. Think of the process as an investment in your future workplace wellbeing. If you don’t start teaching someone else to help you, how will you get the help you need?
5 - Take care of your physical health
Get enough sleep. Move every day. Eat food that your great grandma would recognise as food, and make sure you eat some whole plants every day.
Healthy habits can help stave off burnout. Simple things like going for a walk, taking a dance break, eating some vegetables and getting plenty of sleep will provide your body with much needed relaxation and prevent the physical effects of stress from building up in the body over time.
Exercise is also a great way to boost endorphins and reduce inflammation, which can help make you feel emotionally better prepared to take on challenging tasks at work. You don’t have to run a marathon! Even a 5 minute dance break to your favourite song (probably best when working from home) can have a huge impact on your mood. Bonus points if you combine this with ways of taking breaks, or connecting with your support network.
6 - Develop New Skills and Challenge Yourself
The last you thing you probably feel like if you’re starting down the burnout route is to add anything else to your already overcrowded plate. But hear me out!
Developing new skills, learning something new or taking on something just a little bit out of your comfort zone can work wonders. Humans want to see progress. We enjoy improving, and being able to see changes. Watching yourself get better at something is a great source of dopamine and pride.
One of the key characteristics of burnout is that we become detached and disillusioned. You can combat that by creating opportunities for yourself to re-engage via learning. Start small. Pick something you enjoy. And don’t let yourself minimise the achievement. As you feel your confidence returning, you can move on t bigger, better and more challenging things.
7 - Change Your Mindset
It has to be said. Ultimately, whether you do or don’t burnout in a tough situation is all about your mindset.
Humans are built to undergo periods of stress, recover and move on. It only becomes burnout when we don’t recover and continue to operate from a position of chronic stress, adrenalin, cortisol and negative thinking.
In the quiet of your own mind, ask yourself gently where you are indulging in a fixed or victim mindset. You can recognise that because you are thinking that all of your woes are caused by other people, the system you’re in, your boss, you client…. If nothing that isn’t working for you is your fault, and you can’t control anything - that may be a sign it is time to rethink your mindset.
There are lots of ways to do that. Your brain runs like a search engine (well no, it doesn’t, but run with the simile for me…). If you set it to look for the good, you will start to find it.
Start a journal and ask yourself positively framed questions like “What can go right today?”
Keep a folder on your desktop where you store all the positive feedback you receive, and read some when you’re feeling down
At the end of the day, write down at least one thing you are proud of each day
Take one photo each day of something beautiful you see
Make a point of telling someone each day why you are grateful to them
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