10 Ways to Avoid Burnout

We’ve all done it: you jump into a project head first and double your hours. Then you skip sleep, forego the regenerative “me” time that keeps you sane, and start taking out your frustrations on loved ones.

Maybe you find yourself sluggish, dragging yourself to the computer or workplace in the morning with a sense of dread.

Or, just as bad, you’ve been procrastinating and putting off all the tasks.

According to the Asscociation for Psychological Science, burnout comes in three varieties: overload burnout, boredom burnout, and worn-out burnout.

Statista reports that 65% of the people who are at the beginning of a burnout situation frequently felt run down or drained of physical and/or emotional energy.

Yep, I’ve been there. Recently, in fact.

Sometimes, you can nip it in the bud and keep the big “B” of burnout from getting control of your life.

Other times, it would have been better to just avoid the situation altogether.

Here are my top ways to avoid burnout and stay motivated in your work.

Plan your day AND write it down.

Write down everything you need to do. This will keep you focused and on track.

I use a bullet journaling system that I continually modify and adjust. When I went “backwards” from a completely cloud-based back to a paper-based system a few years ago, I expected to encounter some problems.

What I found, though, was that I was able to focus better and even remember things. It was like what I learned in college, taking notes during lectures and then studying by rewriting them, was still relevant.

Turns out research supports what I’ve experienced. So not only will you have a plan of what’s ahead, you may find yourself thinking more clearly and remembering better.

Then again, you might just have a handy place to doodle. 🙂

Sever the tether.

With 77% of Americans owning a smartphone, it’s no surprise that, in addition to crushing candy and obsessively checking Facebook, we’re also working longer hours.

It. Never. Ends.

But it can.

Set working hours and stick to them. And, my TOP advice? Turn off notifications.

Make your time intentional. Not only will it free you to enjoy your off hours, it will also help you focus during your on hours.

Do the tough stuff first.

Confession: I don’t always follow this advice. Sometimes, I need to do the opposite of eating the frog; I need to butter myself up and get ready for the tasks I’m not so fond of.

But when you’ve done the tough or unsavory work first, it’s out of the way. It’s done. It’s not hanging over you all day long.

Have a hobby.

Give yourself something to look forward to outside of work…and then make time to do it!

There are all sorts of reasons to have a hobby (Psychology Today lists six), but mental health tops my list.

When I curl up with a book or grab my husband for a round of golf, the working part of my brain can relax…and I come back refreshed and ready to dive in.

Say no.

You can’t do everything…and you shouldn’t.

But often, once you start saying yes, you get asked to do more. And more. And more.

Saying no doesn’t make you a jerk (though there’s something to be said for tact). And it may not be easy to say no, especially if you’re a people pleaser or talking to someone you don’t want to disappoint.

Do a quick search online for “benefits of saying no” and you’ll find a trail a mile long. This is its very own challenge, but one that is important to embrace and pursue.

A well-placed no can help you in many ways, not least of which is to keep you from the brink of burnout!

Take breaks.

Go outside. Enjoy nature. Meditate and/or pray.

You’re not made to be glued to a computer screen or a task for long amounts of time. A change in scenery, even if it’s just to stand up at your desk, can make a huge difference in your mentality.

Years ago, in my first job after college, I noticed that the only people who seemed to take a sanctioned break during the day were those who smoked.

Rather than start a habit that could lead to your death, why not set a timer on your phone or computer so that you take a break? Neil Patel recommends no longer than 90 minutes of work at a stretch before you take a break.

Whatever it is, make time throughout the day to stop and pause. You’ll be better for it.

Avoid perfection paralysis.

Done is better than perfect.

I know, I KNOW. It’s hard to say and even harder to accept. But the truth is that most of us aren’t doing life-altering jobs.

Usually, we need something done more than we need it to be completely 100% perfect.

I’m NOT advocating a half-way job or doing less than your best. But your best and what’s needed often — usually — isn’t perfect.

And besides, perfect can be a subjective term. Let go of it and let yourself move forward.

Take care of your body.

We aren’t just intellectual beings; we’re physical beings. That means we need to take care of our bodies, too!

Eat right. Sleep well. Exercise. Drink lots of water. Research whether some vitamin supplements would be appropriate.

Get up and move around during the day (while taking one of those breaks I recommended earlier).

Add beauty.

Beauty comes in many forms, and it will change the atmosphere for you.

Listen to music; add some flowers; put on a diffuser with bergamot or peppermint.

Make your work environment a place where you are inspired and that makes you smile. There are many factors you can’t control, true, but you can stack the deck in your favor.

People time is a must!

Even if you’re an introvert, you need loved ones and support. What people in your life give you energy?

66% of people categorized as being at the beginning of burnout stated that “stable family life is one of the best ways to avoid burnout.”

Whether family means your closest friends, the people you live with, or some other group, make time for them and with them.

Humans are social beings.

How do you avoid burnout?

What tips do you have to share? Or, if you’ve battled with burnout in the past, what helped you?