I am sure prior generations hit the burnout point too but I believe there are more people struggling with burnout today than ever before in history. Wherever you go, you hear conversations about being overwhelming, unappreciated, and overworked.
Causes of burnout in your career
- Technology → despite the idea that technology was created to simplify life, technology adds even more challenges. Email in-boxes are overflowing. Even in a paperless society, most people have more paper surrounding them than they know what to do with. There is an app for that but too often we have too many apps for everything.
- The Jumbo Job → Many employers handled the financial issues of the recession and other economic challenges by giving more work to fewer people. You have the Plant Manager who is now the Safety Director, Quality Control Director, Engineering Manager, and more. The problem with this is that it results in overwhelmed (and often underperforming) people. You can read more about the jumbo job here.
- Too much going on → Opportunities to learn, participate, and volunteer abound. You can always find something to do if you are looking for it. If you have children and are actively involved in their lives, you may find yourself running from morning to night.
- Social obligations → In many upper management and executive roles, you have a social life that integrates with your work. You are expected to entertain clients and attend events as an employee.
- Continuing Education → Today expanding your education with either new coursework and degrees or more certifications has never been easier but it all takes time.
Solutions for burnout
- Don’t let technology manage you. Manage it. Many suggestions abound to help you manage the onslaught of data. Whatever tools you use, remember that you can turn things off. Schedule your email instead of reacting immediately. When I am immersed in a project, I ignore incoming emails, texts, and calls. I respond when I am between clients or at the end of the day.
- If you are a victim of the Jumbo Job, find ways to delegate. Generally, even if you are charged with multiple areas, you have staff. Make sure you use those resources and be ready to say no if you are offered more roles than you can handle.
- Practice a just say no policy in your personal life. If you are overloaded and find it hard to have any down time, you need to say no. People tend to ask busy people because they know they will get it done but you can say no. No one does a better job of telling what happens when you get one too many asks is Yolanda DeLoach in this post: The Cow Costume that broke the Camel’s back.
- Be willing to share the entertainment role or ask for comp time in exchange for the time you spend dining without of time clients or attending work-related functions. Perhaps there is someone else in the company that can share those duties with you or the company will allow you to have a day off when you accumulate 8 hours of social obligations.
- Set goals on expanding your education but take your time too. Smell the roses. Walk the dog. Play ball with your son. Take your husband or wife on a date.
Burnout is no fun for anyone but you don’t have to let it take over. If you can’t find any strategies that help, then perhaps it is time to consider a new job or even career path.
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