Ever feel like just walking out and leaving the endless to-do lists and mounting paperwork behind? Is it hard to look beyond the immediate without feeling like you’re suffocating in a vast vat of ‘too much to do’? Workload burden is not something new, but it is something that needs to be managed before it escalates into burnout.
Royston Guest, author of Built to Grow, addresses burnout and offers 10 simple tips to avoid it and keep you feeling fine and performing at your best
Firstly, let me deal with an urban myth which says that the more hours you work, the more you will get done. In reality, the more hours you work, the less productive you become. Why? Because we all need quality downtime. But, with 24/7 connectivity, it’s tough to completely switch off.
Burnout at work is real, and maybe more common than you think. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines work-related stress, depression or anxiety as ‘…a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work’. In 2016, 11.7 million working days were lost due to this condition alone, with the main work factors cited by respondents being workload pressures, tight deadlines, too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support.
Once you acknowledge your personal emotional wellbeing is on an equal footing with your ability to perform your role, you understand it’s the energy source powering your performance; when it’s low, your performance is low, impacting both the short and long-term performance of the business.
Avoiding burnout in the workplace whilst consistently playing your A game and performing at your peak may sound like a contradiction but let me share with you my 10 top tips which you can implement today. The majority of these are no-brainers but my conclusion is this; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Improve on these individual things by one per cent and the small gains add up to remarkable changes.
- Question EVERYTHING you do on a daily basis. Is what I am doing right now worthy of my time? If not, why are you doing it?
- Switch off all phones, tablets and gadgets when not in use. Don’t become a slave to the flashing red light reminding you when you have messages.
- Apply the 8 x 8 rule. Drink 8 x 8 ounce glasses of water a day to keep hydrated. Water helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy. If you’re not hydrated, your body can’t perform at its highest level – you may feel tired, have muscle cramps or dizziness.
- Down time is fundamental to your wellbeing. In fact, some of your best thinking will be done in the quiet space of your downtime, when you’re relaxed and at peace. Don’t compromise these moments.
- Treat ‘appointments’ in your personal life with even more urgency and importance than you do business meetings.
- Take a good look at your office and work environment; clean, tidy and minimalist or cluttered, messy and disorganised? Your internal environment – mindset, thinking and actions – will only ever be a reflection of your external environment. Cluttered office = cluttered mind! And vice versa.
- Undertake a clean sweep. Sort your office, computer, filing, make a list of all the small things personally and professionally which you keep putting off and just get them done. You will be amazed how this frees up your head space for quality thoughts and action.
- Learn to say ‘NO’ to the unimportant things and you will then have more time to say ‘YES’ to the important and worthy things.
- Focus on your breathing. When you’re ‘stressed’ what happens to your shoulders and breathing? Shoulders = tense, breathing = short, shallow breaths. The quickest way to change the ‘state’ you are in is to change your physiology – how you use your body. The quickest way to change how you use your body is to change your breathing – switch from short, sharp, shallow breaths to long and deep and slow on a 30 second cycle. Do that seven times and you’ll soon start to feel more in control, relaxed and back in the driver’s seat!
- And finally, I want to share with you a quote from author James Patterson which is this. “Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends and integrity – and you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls…are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.”