How To Avoid Burnout

Avoid Burnout Using These 10 Tips
Summary: Using these 10 tips can help you stay focused on what is important. Be intentional about how you use your time and you can avoid burnout.

10 Tips On How To Avoid Burnout

Have you ever been physically and mentally exhausted for a prolonged period of time? Have you ever experienced fatigue that just didn't go away? If so, you may have experienced burnout.

Here are 10 tips on how to avoid burnout:

1. Talk With A Friend Frequently

Everyone needs someone to whom they can vent and with whom they can work through their problems. I have a friend who likes to come to my office and talk out her issues. I don’t usually say anything, but I give her time to talk about a problem out loud, and she is able to come up with her own solution. This is a great way for her to be heard and get a solution to her problem that makes sense to her. Find people you trust, with whom you can share your problems, solutions, and celebrations.

2. Narrow Your Focus

A lot of people try to do everything and therefore are a jack of all trades, master of none. Try narrowing your focus to a few things and be really good at those. People do not need to be good at everything (since no one is). Pick a few areas and work on improving those. To do this, only focus on one or two goals at a time. It is better to conquer two goals a year than partially try five goals a year. Regularly setting and achieving goals will help you feel like you are making progress and help you continue to feel good about yourself. There is nothing worse than putting too much on your plate and throwing the entire plate away when there is no progress.

3. Take "Me Time" Regularly

Find ways that recharge your energy. Do you like hanging out with friends, reading a book, taking a nature hike, or exercising? Find what you like doing to recharge your energy and do that. Make sure you do this on a regular basis so you have time to recharge before you have to exert energy again. Block time in your schedule for "me time," even if you don’t have a plan. I also schedule breaks and eating times into my schedule. I have found that if I don’t do this, I might not get to eat some days, as my calendar is too full.

4. Change Things Up, Get Out Of Your Rut

Changing your routine can sometimes get you out of a rut. Recently, my husband and I went to a concert. We had booked it months before and when the day came, I really didn’t want to go because it took an effort to get there and I was tired. But once we got there, I was glad we went. It was just an overnight trip, but the change of scenery and pace really recharged my energy and refreshed me for when I went back to the normal schedule. So, what can you change professionally? As a teacher, I sometimes change the curriculum, having students do a project instead of writing a paper. What about having a walking meeting instead of a sitting meeting? Go outside, walk around the building while discussing your meeting topics. What can you do at work tomorrow (or even today) that can be a change of scenery that can recharge your energy? What about personally? How about altering your route to work or going out on a Monday instead of on a Friday or both? Do something different to make this day stand out.

5. Break Projects Into Smaller Pieces

When people look at a big project, they can get stressed out. So, break a project into smaller pieces. Have you ever heard the question about how to eat an elephant? The answer is one piece at a time. If you have to create a presentation, break that presentation up into smaller pieces. For example, on Monday, work on the introduction, on Tuesday, work on the first point, on Wednesday, work on the second point, and so on. Break a project into smaller pieces and only work on a small piece. This way you can see progress without getting overwhelmed. You can also celebrate small pieces getting done and feel like you are accomplishing your goal.

6. Forgive Yourself For Not Being Perfect All The Time

This can be hard, as most people have been taught that they have to be perfect. I’ve heard it said: "Don’t do it if you can’t do it perfectly." Wow! What a great way to cause an emotional shutdown. Give yourself permission to do things well but not always perfectly. If you drop the ball and don’t get something done, forgive yourself and move on. Realize that there is a price to everything. If you spent two months on a project, this means that you probably neglected your family for those two months. I’ve heard it said that a B- can affect someone’s life. If you can do B- work and still make an impact at work and at home with your family, isn’t that worth it? Why kill yourself working for perfection and lose your family or focus when you can do well and still have time to spend with your family?

7. Know Your Limitations

Only you know how much you can take. Take breaks when you are stressed. As a teacher, I have learned that I shouldn’t grade when I am too tired or upset, as I realize that I become an angry grader when this happens. When I notice this, I stop grading and go do something else (usually non-computer-related). I give myself permission to put off the task until later so the outcome for my students can be better.

8. Know That There Are Seasons

For a teacher, the beginning and end of a semester are more hectic than the middle. Therefore, my family knows I need to spend more time working during these times than other times. So, give yourself extra time to focus during this time. When things are going more smoothly in a classroom, spend more time with family. On the other hand, you need to carve out time for family and not feel guilty. People understand boundaries if they know them ahead of time. For example, I tell my online students that I am not available on Sundays, as this is my family time. I usually check the classroom every day but only occasionally on Sundays, so don’t expect me to spend a lot of time online on Sundays. So, schedule some time for your family and think of it as an unbreakable appointment. If someone wants you to do something during this time, say, "No, I can’t do that at this time, as I have another appointment that I can’t change." You don’t need to explain what that appointment is. Saying this in front of your family can help them see that this time is sacred and that they are important to you.

9. Reconnect To Purpose

Ask yourself why you do what you do. If you are a teacher, why did you become a teacher? If you work in healthcare, why did you do that? Ask yourself what skills/qualities you have to give others. Remind yourself that you have good qualities that you need to share with others. Doing this will remind you why you are spending your time and energy on these things.

10. Create Margin In Your Life

This is one of the biggest ways to combat burnout. Learn to say "no" frequently. By saying "yes" to everything, there are things you are unintentionally saying no to. For example, if you take on a new responsibility at work, this will require five more hours a week. Then, you are taking those five hours a week away from your family. So, by learning to say no more often, you are then choosing how you will spend your time. Adding margin in your life will give you space to breathe and recharge. If you don’t take charge of your schedule, other people will.

Using these 10 tips can help you stay focused on what is important. Be intentional about how you use your time and you can avoid burnout.