Managing Yourself: 7 Tips for Fighting Burnout

February 23, 2021 by Kimberly Tallon

Work can take over our lives if we let it, upping our stress levels and causing us to burn out while also taking a toll on our personal relationships. Setting firm boundaries, practicing self-compassion, and giving ourselves opportunities to relax and recharge can help.

  1. Take a break.

Taking a break can help you decompress so you can maintain your productivity and better manage stress—but only if you do it right.

Schedule your breaks. Putting a break on your calendar gives you something to look forward to and may keep you from taking mini-breaks to check the news or social media. Try to carve out 20-30 minutes of break time each day—and stick to it.

What you do on your break is important. Try taking a walk outside or watching something entertaining. Don’t just switch to another work-related activity. Also try to avoid exposing yourself to obligations or tasks you can’t resolve during the break, since this will just create mental drag. And definitely avoid looking at email during your break—don’t even glance at your Inbox before you leave your desk.

Source: “This is the exact type of break you should be taking when working from home,” Fast Company, Dec. 7, 2020

  1. Don’t self-sabotage.

Are you heading for a burnout at work? You may be falling into one of these self-sabotage traps.

Source: Is Self-Sabotage Burning You Out?”Harvard Business Review, Nov. 19, 2020

  1. Maintain a healthy balance.

Hard work is key to job success, earning you praise and promotions. But some people take it too far, letting their dedication to work take over and sacrificing their well-being and personal life in the process. In short, they become workaholics. Here are some strategies for transforming those habits.

Source: When does a hard worker become a workaholic?” Inverse, Nov. 21, 2020

  1. Don’t let exhaustion keep you down.

This past year has taken a huge toll on our physical, mental and emotional reserves, leaving many of us too exhausted to figure out how to make things better. Here are some simple, practical steps for dealing with exhaustion.

Source: “What to Do When You’re Feeling Exhausted,” Eblin Group, Dec. 8, 2020

  1. Reprioritize now or regret later.

Is your work-life balance out of whack? It’s time to free yourself from unhealthy patterns. That means taking a good look at yourself and learning how to reprioritize.

Take a step back and ask yourself: What is currently causing me stress, unbalance or dissatisfaction? How are these circumstances affecting how I perform and engage with my job? How are they impacting my personal life? What am I prioritizing? What am I sacrificing? What is getting lost?

Now it’s time to reprioritize. Think about what’s important to you and what you’re willing to sacrifice. Are you overly focused on work and ignoring your family and friends? Your health? Is it really necessary to work extra-long hours, bring your work home, and immediately answer every email or work call?

Consider your alternatives and take action. You can make small but meaningful changes by setting self-imposed boundaries—choosing not to work on evenings, weekends or during holidays/vacations; turning down new projects and responsibilities. Or you can take a bigger step by taking on a new role that’s less demanding or allows more flexibility.

Source: “Work-Life Balance Is a Cycle, Not an Achievement,” Harvard Business Review, Jan. 29, 2021

  1. Give yourself time for R&R.

Feeling off your game? You may need to start treating rest and recovery more seriously.

Source: “To Be Resilient, Rest Like an Athlete,” NOBL Academy, Jan. 11, 2021

  1. Don’t skip lunch.

Taking a daily lunch break can increase productivity and job satisfaction. That means making time each day to step away from work and eat lunch or go for a walk—not eating at your desk while you keep working away.

It’s just as important, as a manager, to make sure your team feels safe taking time for their own lunch breaks.

Take lunch—visibly. When managers take time to step away from their desks and take a break, it creates an environment where we don’t always have to be busy (or act like we are) to be considered productive. In the remote work environment, that could be creating an “at lunch” notification, mentioning at the team meeting that you’ll be away from your screen during lunch or verbally acknowledging in the afternoon, “I’m back from lunch.”

Limit meetings at some mid-day hour. Days filled with back-to-back meetings can cause employees to skip lunch. Consider designating a time for all employees to eat lunch or even run an errand or two every day.

Source: “Take Your Lunch Break!” Harvard Business Review, Jan. 21, 2021