Avoiding Burnout

Sometimes, the bright bulb of ideas and information that is your brain just blows a fuse.

Burn out.  It happens every day to millions of people in millions of offices around the world.

How do you get around it?

Some people do it by patronizing their business partners behind their back.  Always hilarious, particularly when an idiot co-worker forwards your e-mail to said business partner.  Some people just go plain nuts and form their own athletic clubs, complete with trainers and coaching staff.

But for every disruptive, albeit fun, method for distracting yourself from burn-out, there are equally effective ways to return yourself to the work at hand.  And… avoid being fired.

  1. Reorganize your office space. I recently did this, and boy what a difference does it make.  Let me make it a bit clearer with a picture.  Before, my desk was all the way up against that wall – and I have a co-worker in the next office who occasionally stares out into space – through that window.  Needless to say, if you think you’re being watched 24/7,  you’re not going to get much work done.  So, rather than stick my tongue out all day and make random faces, which worked for the first day or so, I can now happily enjoy my own work space without feeling distracted.
  2. Give yourself a to-do list. Create a daily or weekly to-do list of things that you can do that day or that week.  Pick one or two things off that list and work toward them until you finish ‘em off.
  3. Allow yourself a break or two. They say that the average worker only gets about 3 good days of productivity in an average week.  It makes sense that you’d want to maximize your time working, but if you go non-stop like a robot, you’re going to become unproductive at some point.  Give yourself a timed break, 5-10 minutes to get up, walk around, get a drink, check the news or e-mail, and go back to work.
  4. Manage your time. Everybody knows that coworker, the one who likes to pile on projects for you, give you extra work, and then congratulate you with another “honeydo” list.  It’s vitally important that you set your own work schedule – besides the one that your boss sets for you.  How and when you go about making progress on your own projects is up to you.  Don’t let anyone bully you into making the wrong decisions just because they’re your friend (or not).  Set boundaries to interruptions.  Be honest about when you have free time in your schedule to answer questions.
  5. Think outside the box. Most people have problems to solve in their job.  Or repetitive tasks to complete.  Make a game out of it.  Do something unexpected to go the extra mile.  Color code things to make more sense.  Look at tough project issues as a puzzle you have to solve.  The more intrigued and engaged your brain becomes, the faster and easier the solution (or the end) to your problems will be.

One last thing.  If you absolutely positively cannot fathom even one more hour of tedious, unsatisfying work… don’t be afraid to jump ship.  Or at the very least, have a conversation with your boss about acquiring some additional duties that you consider interesting.  It could make all the difference!

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