Do you know that feeling when you start a new job and everything is so new, so interesting and exciting?
New people, new walls, new tasks.
You do everything you can to prove that you’re the right person for the position and you don’t mind staying later at work. You’ve never been the 8-16 person anyways. Besides that - hey, it’s your career!
Or maybe you’re the startup owner who opened a business you’re passionate about. You build your company with enthusiasm and you don’t mind working late or during weekends because you understand that running a business is a serious job.
And then, one day, you wake up and have no energy to get up.
You turn off your alarm clock and stare into the ceiling having no will to start the day. You think about the infinitive number of things that you did yesterday and you have to do today. You feel exhausted and you can’t even find a small drop of motivation.
Sorry to say that, but you’re suffering from burnout.
What is the burnout syndrome
Before you understand the burnout syndrome, you need to understand what stress is.
We tend to think that stress is something that we can see and feel; like sweaty palms, faster heartbeat, gnashing of teeth or stomach problems.
The problem is, stress is much more insidious and creeps into our lives with no obvious signs. In other words, you can be stressed and not even know about that.
If you have many tasks and little time, if you have deadlines, if you struggle to find time for everything you’ve planned, if you feel the adrenaline rush or if you can’t concentrate, you’re probably suffering from stress.
The sad rule is that if you're constantly feeling stressed, it will turn into chronic stress that will lead you directly to job burnout.
And what is burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.
So here you are.
You have all signs of burnout. You’re stressed, overworked, frustrated and unmotivated. Hating the job you previously loved. Having no idea what to do to revive the spark of passion that led you to this place.
Luckily, the cure is within your reach.
The first step is to understand that you’ve been under pressure. Your second step will be changing your habits so you can balance work with your personal life.
How to recover from burnout
1. Work smarter
Do you know this sentence “work smarter, not longer?”
There are so many tools out there helping you to organize your time and automate your tasks! The first thing you should invest in is a to-do list. Wunderlist is a very simple app that will help you to track everything you have to do and you have done already.
You don’t have to send emails manually; you can choose a program that will do it for you. MailChimp can be a good solution for you. Stuck with phone calls? Suggest adding live chat as an additional point of contact and help customers faster (you can test LiveChat for free for 30 days if you want). Even small things like Google Drive can make a difference (it's much more easy to share, edit and comment documents).
Think about any task that takes a lot of your time, it’s very probable that someone has invented an application that can save time when doing that task. It will help you more successfully manage your tasks and your time.
Tip: I don’t recommend using time tracking applications as it might get you even more stressed about your “low productivity.”
I know, sometimes it’s not possible, so at least try to give yourself some time without checking your email, messages or social media profiles.
Give yourself the right to be offline and to live your life. Your business will not collapse if you don’t respond swiftly and you won’t be sacked because you didn’t respond to emails on Saturday.
Your second step should be leaving your mobile at home when you’re going out with your second half or your friends. Have you seen all these people sitting together at one table and yet checking their mobiles? You don’t want to be one of them.
Even if Bill Gates was to call you offering a job, if he really wanted to hire you, he would call again during business hours.
Tip: If you have problems with falling asleep, don’t check your mobile or laptop at least 2 hours before you go to sleep. Bright mobile and laptop screens can mess with your brain, so it thinks it’s still daytime.
3. Say no to social media
Unless you’re a social media manager, you don’t need Facebook or Twitter on your mobile, so consider uninstalling it. If it sounds too drastic, turn off all the notifications and check it only twice a day.
Social media is the worst time waster of all because every time you log in, you’ll see something interesting for you.
And I’m not talking about silly stuff like funny cats; I’m talking about really awesome stuff that can suck you in for hours. An article about how to enhance your productivity, how to be a good boss or what is Elon Musk’s latest project.
You might think that it’s worth reading and knowing, but think about it this way: it’s still a drop in the ocean of knowledge. The Internet is full of equally important stuff, so if you don’t know what is Elon Musk up to, it doesn’t mean that you’re an ignorant.
So seriously. If you don’t have to, don’t check Twitter or Facebook. Or at least, not during weekends. Social media can give you the illusion of relaxing, but in fact, your brain is scanning every website in search for information and remembering the images.
Give it a brake.
Some time ago I read a post “12 Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast.” Let me guide you through their mornings:
- They wake up early,
- They exercise,
- They work on a top-priority business project,
- They work on a personal passion project,
- They spend quality time with their family,
- They check their email and read the news.
Sounds like some seriously busy time, right? It proves only one thing: that one of the side effects of the modern, intense living is that we don’t have time to relax.
So if you tend to be busy not only in the mornings but for the whole day, consider slowing down a bit. You don’t have to do everything at one time. If you want to skip your gym and sleep longer - do it! If you don’t feel like you want to read the news, then don’t.
The best way to relax is to disconnect from the loud outside world and focus on yourself.
Give yourself at least 5 minutes of a peaceful time not thinking about your job and your duties. Take a walk, calm your brain down and listen to the silence. If you’re living in a noisy neighborhood, take your family and leave for a weekend so you can actively spend your time.
If you want to go deeper into mind relaxation, you can try to mediate. It’s difficult at first, but as Michael Grothaus proved it in his article “Here's How A Month Of Zen Meditation Changed My Life,” meditation helps to feel more refreshed, energetic, patient and productive.
5. Work less
Did you know that Americans take half of their paid vacation? Also, it’s said that 41% of Americans didn’t take a day off in 2015! I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that burnout and chronic stress are one of the great problems in Western society.
Working less is the most important and yet the most difficult step. For those of us for whom their job is a passion, it’s very difficult to devote it less attention.
But think about it this way: if you’re burned out, you’re mentally drained. You have no energy or motivation to work. Emotional exhaustion affects your productivity and work performance in a bad way.
You need vacations to work better, it’s a simple conclusion.
Also, if you get up early in the morning and in the evening you’re still at work, then you should think about your attitude once again. Will the business collapse if you leave earlier? Or if you don’t respond to this email today? I don’t think so.
A healthy work-life balance
A stressful lifestyle can put people under extreme pressure, to the point that they felt exhausted, frustrated and burned out. Stress at work can also cause physical and mental symptoms.
It interferes with the ability to pay attention or concentrate, it affects our job performance, causes interpersonal problems at home, decreases our happiness and can create real health problems.
Luckily, with a bit of patience, you can overcome it.
Remember about your free time and try to separate the time when you’re working and the time when you’re resting. Unplug yourself from the online reality and pay attention to the world around you. Don’t forget to take your vacation, do sports and try to find interest in meditation.
And before you get back to work, read a word about Fish! Philosophy. It might help you to take your job less seriously and find pleasure in your daily tasks.