Avoid Burnout in the New Year

By Joshua M. Evans

You know that friend or colleague that is so fatigued that they could collapse at any moment. They seem like even the slightest thing could push them over the edge. You’ve seen that look before … they are burned out.

Burnout is a very real thing, and it affects people at all roles, in any industry. 

Imagine for a moment a fishing guide that can’t stand the idea of baiting another hook for his guests, the accountant that is going to scream if they have to update the same spreadsheet another time, or the doctor that has a hard time mustering the energy to put on the appearance of bedside manner.

It doesn’t matter what you do, one day you are going to be face with the very real possibility of burnout. There’s a level of disengagement and frustration that takes over screaming “NO MORE!” If you are in a leadership role this can be just as important for helping your team overcome burnout as well.

There’s good news, you can combat burnout and overcome the sinking feeling of futility. Yay! 

No, seriously. I know what you are thinking; this is probably some silly meditation or mindset exercise that’s too abstract and utterly ridiculous. 

Well, you’re wrong. There are techniques and adjustments to your day that help you shift gears so your RPM’s aren’t running in the red. Here’s how:

1. Change your routines. Many times the monotony of doing something repetitively can seem overwhelming, especially during this increasing virtual world. Try changing the order of simple tasks you do every day. I’m not talking about putting on your shoes first then your socks. Small changes can make the world seem new and more interesting. One great way is to change the route you take to work. Or if you are remote, try changing the order of tasks you complete. It doesn’t even have to be a huge change, one exit earlier or parking in a different area can help you break the routine.

2. Take more breaks, but make them REAL breaks. Don’t walk away from your computer for a break only to sit down somewhere else and stare at your smartphone. Jumping from one screen to another is a surefire way to become fatigued. Try going outside, walking or catching up with your co-workers. 

3. Learn something new in your role. This may not sound easy, especially if you have been doing it long enough to develop burn out. Find something intriguing about what you are doing, but have never really looked into it. Maybe shadow someone else you work with and learn some of their work. Anything that breaks your routine and forces you to think more cognitively is beneficial. 

4. Gamify an aspect of your role. Yes you can make your role more fun without loss of productivity. That’s why sales contest work so well, people get caught up in the competition of the tasks at hand that they initially stop looking at the things they are doing as work and they begin viewing them as something playful or, heaven forbid, even joyful! To dive a bit deeper, when you gamify something it needs to support the completion of work promote involvement. I once worked with an organization that had trouble getting staff involved at a tradeshow. To gamify the experience and incentivize engagement we developed something called “Trade Show Bingo”. The prize was a small $20 gift card, but the competition it evoked caused everyone at their booth to commit to the tasks that needed to get done. All of a sudden employees were scrambling across the booth to greet customers. In fact, all the things that earlier seemed like menial tasks became fun and competitive.

5. Stop looking at the news and at social media in the morning. I know you’re thinking “Okay Joshua, I’m not going to do that.” Well you should. Forget about all the philosophical discussions. You need to be aware of the things that are influencing you on a day to day basis. What we take in mentally effects all the other aspects in our lives. Small things that seem inert can have significant impacts on the rest of our day. Each morning we get to choose the lens with which we view the world. When we look at media traditional or social, we are distorting that lens and allowing ourselves to be influenced. Just like a small argument with a loved one can ruin our day. Looking at social media or the news can have just as detrimental an impact. If you want to prevent burn out, you must be willing to protect your brain and the things renting space in it.

Burnout can affect anyone at any level and it is important to be aware of it. Knowing how to identify burnout and combat its effects is essential for staying engaged at any organizations.

Joshua M. Evans is a No. 1 bestselling author, TEDx programmer, employee engagement specialist, and the leading expert on organizational culture. You can learn more at www.joshuamevans.com.

Photo credit: iStock.com/rawf8

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