You’re stressed out at work – times are tough, job security is rare and the company is demanding. So, you do everything you can, pitch in to help, never say no. You put in more and more hours, develop new skills, take on new tasks. You try to keep up with what you THINK your co-workers are doing, but you’re drowning. How does that feel?
Are you close to burnout?
Reclaim some Time
One thing you can do right now is reclaim some time that is not bringing the results you want. Get yourself some breathing space to sort things out. Try this free worksheet below to hose down unproductive hours.
Burnout is not Overwork
However, burnout is not caused by hard work or long hours, it’s caused by how you think about work. If you think that what you do is never enough and that effort creates value at work – you’re barking up the wrong tree. You will keep working harder until you plunge deep in to overwork and disenchantment that turns in to burnout. Job satisfaction plummets, along with results.
You can’t feel bad and look good
The fact is, negative energy can’t create positive results. It won’t matter how many hours you put in, if you resent your workload and sink in to helpless despair. The best results are fuelled by passion, commitment, desire to serve and other positive attitudes. Catch-22, huh? Over-effort without enthusiasm creates burnout, burnout destroys enthusiasm. I’m using the word enthusiasm in the sense of being spiritually uplifted as well as eager. Pouring greatness of spirit in to your work endeavours will lift you out of burnout. Guaranteed.
What DOES cause burnout?
According to Brooke Castillo, burnout is caused by three things – stressful thinking, poor planning and scarcity thinking.
If you choose thoughts about work that trigger stress, you debilitate yourself, resulting in poor productivity, lower quality work, exhaustion, procrastination and sickness. Your teamwork suffers more friction, recrimination and blame. Thoughts of failure will fill your mind, pushing out successful strategies and constructive thinking. Stress CAN produce concentrated work that is successful – for example the time pressure of a sudden deadline – but only for short periods. If you have ongoing stress, as you well know, the same does not apply.
If you have scarcity thinking, you will be acting out of desperation. This limits your ability to be creative, accept feedback and deal with errors or fails along the way. You will be unwilling to accept anything that appears to ‘waste’ time, but you will take the laborious way to solving any problem – missing shortcuts and inspiration. Scarcity thinking blocks any flashes of brilliance and refutes all help, labelling it interference or a vote of no confidence. In short, you cannot trust your fellows.
When you’re under the hammer and not recognising your own contribution at work as adequate, you will become desperate to save face. You will feel unable to say no to any request that comes in. You’ll take on tasks that you aren’t good at or that don’t come under your remit. You will also start procrastinating, out of terror that your job is out of control and you can’t do it anymore. When you work long hours, you will begin to sacrifice relationships, interests and creative outlets outside work. You’ll work first thing in the morning and last thing at night and lose sleep. The boundaries of work will crumble and the demon of work failure will infuse your entire life. You are not planning to succeed. You’re not planning at all. You know it’s unsustainable and that scares you even more. How much harder can you work?
Just Stop Running
You’re running scared. Time to take back control. If burnout is caused by stressful thoughts, scarcity thoughts and poor planning, do the reverse.
There’s a rather wonderful book by Greg McKeown called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It’s all about doing the things that matter most and jettisoning everything else. Becoming popular at work again by excelling at what you’re good at – finding your maximum contribution and giving that your energy. If you do this, you not only recover from burnout and get back to doing what you love, you also bring in the best results you are capable of.
The Power of No
Saying No to inessential tasks is not as hard as you think. When you say No to make space to do your best work, you become more valuable and valued. People respect someone who wants to give their maximum contribution.
When you have said No to enough time-wasting tasks, you’ll be able to manage your schedule. Allocate a set time for work, and stick to it. Work by results not time spent – for each hour you work commit to a result you will achieve and stick to it. Remove procrastination and diversion.
Restoring Balance at Work
There are many disciplines required to restore balance at work – including a positive attitude, saying No and managing your time and energy effectively. All of these disciplines start from your mind – when you see how you have been thinking and behaving and the results that brought you, you can start making more conscious choices.
Any amount of yoga, sleep hygiene and meditation cannot change your burnout until you start thinking differently.
It took you a long time to slide in to burnout – it will take a period of rebuilding to get you out. You need to re-think yourself. Happily, this is not difficult and a professional like you will not shun the work. The first action is always taking responsibility for your situation and asking for help.
Taking action to rebuild your work self, whilst challenging, gives very quick results. You can feel better inside a few weeks.
I hope when you read this you will know that you don’t have to keep suffering.
Burnout is created by your mind – change it!
Want to Gain Time?
To compare how you really SPEND YOUR TIME against what you think YOUR PRIORITIES are – try this free worksheet below. You can ease the strain right away. Overwork often includes unproductive time that can be re-assigned.