Burnout is a dreaded word in the IT industry because, in a time when many IT professionals are more productive and doing more work than ever, it’s hard to avoid exhaustion or disenchantment with your job. Burnout can be avoided if you take the steps you need to every day, week, and month. Follow this guideline and you’ll stay motivated and productive without exhausting your energy and your drive!
1. Regulate Your Energy: From taking short breaks to making sure you move around often enough, regulating your energy can be the daily key to your burnout free existence. It’s important to work with your natural rhythms instead of trying to push harder at times in the day when you’re most exhausted. Taking regular breaks can help delay that exhaustion and scheduling your toughest tasks first can help you accomplish a lot before you’re mentally taxed.
2. Establish a Wind Down Routine: A lot of people struggle to step away from their desks at the end of the day. There’s always at least one more thing you could do before you head home. Instead of falling into this common trap, establish a wind down routine. Whether it’s doing a certain task or writing your to do list for the next day, this wind down routine will help you end the work day smoothly and keep it from bleeding over into your personal time.
3. Tie Up Mental Loose Ends: Do you often toss and turn at night thinking about a project at work? Do you spend your car ride home replaying the meeting from earlier in the day and trying to figure out how it could have gone better? Stop it! These mental loose ends may seem harmless to mull over but doing it too often could lead to burnout faster than you might think. Instead, write the thoughts down in a journal to forget about them or reflect on them on the drive home but once you step inside move on from that thought process. Tying up these mental loose ends is the key to having the relaxing and rejuvenating time off that you need to avoid burning out.
1. Take One Real Day Off: If you spend your whole weekend running around like a chicken with its head cut off jumping from errands to doing a little work to working on a side project to cleaning, etc. it’s no wonder you’re feeling burnt out! The best way to avoid burnout on a weekly basis is to take at least one real day off per week. It could be spent relaxing alone or on a hobby that you love or with your friends and family. This one day where boundaries are set and no work is allowed to seep in can really make the difference between burning out and feeling motivated.
2. Reflect and Recalibrate: At least once a week you should reflect on your performance from the week before (Fridays or Mondays are great times to do just that). See if there’s anything you need to recalibrate for the upcoming work week and if there’s areas where you can improve. This frequent reflection helps you become a better employee without so much stress.
3. Plan Ahead: Whether you have a big project with an upcoming deadline, a promotion you’re vying for, or a job change you’d like to make in the near future planning ahead can keep you from burning out. One cause of burn out that people often ignore is when you set large, lofty goals but fail to break those goals into small, digestible steps. It makes the big win seem too far off and impossible to achieve. Instead, plan ahead each week for the little steps you’re trying to reach on the way to your larger goals. Putting things into perspective can really help you stay motivated and engaged!
1. Weekend “Away”: While it would be ideal to get a mini vacation one weekend out of every month it’s not always feasible. Instead, try to get a weekend “away” by stepping out of your comfort zone for a weekend and exploring a new part of your city, some nearby nature, or experiencing something different. In order for this to truly be an effective creative and restorative boost you need to spend the entire weekend out of reach from work and spend it doing something you’ve either never done before or haven’t done in a long time.
2. Clean Your Workspace: Yes, people would love to have a clean workspace every day but time often gets away from them. The solution? Schedule at least one day out of every month dedicated to cleaning your workspace. While getting rid of clutter and dust is important, cleaning your workspace can also extend to your email, getting clutter off of your lengthy to do list, or communicating with people in your network you’ve made a mental note to reach out to but haven’t yet. Cleaning up your mind, your to do list, and your physical work space at least once a month can help boost your energy and keep you from fizzling out.
3. Evaluate Your Direction: Just as it’s important to reflect on your workweek once a week, it’s important to reflect on the direction of your performance and your career in general once a month. Taking your workweek reflections and compiling them will help you see how you’ve done for the month as a whole and help you see where you’re going. If you don’t like the direction you’re headed in this is the perfect time to make some tweaks and changes before you’re burnt out with your career trajectory!
Recovering from a burnout is much more difficult than avoiding it. Follow the aforementioned steps every day, week, and month and you’ll successfully avoid burnout while advancing your skills and your career.