Virtually everyone will face the prospect of job burnout at one point. Whether you’re an office worker or a carpenter, a salesperson or a doctor, job burnout occurs when we become dissatisfied with and overwhelmed by our current job and can’t really identify what’s wrong. We’ve gathered together five tips to help identify possible problems and some quick solutions that may help you better bust job burnout.
1. Combat boredom
A lot of people get bored with their jobs, plain and simple. They no longer find the job challenging, or find that the job’s daily routine has become incredibly uninteresting. A job you once looked forward to starting at the beginning of the day now is something you dread.
You can combat job boredom a number of ways. Spice up your current position by asking for different assignments or tasks. Consider a job change within the same company, either by applying for a new position internally or talking to your boss about possible role rotations. If your current company offers you a dead-end to job excitement, consider a new job at a new company.
If you’re really feeling disillusioned with your job, consider changing careers altogether. People do it all the time, even going back to school if need be to pursue something they find more rewarding. Contrary to popular belief, jobs shouldn’t be something you just have to suffer through and not enjoy. The happier you are with your job, the happier you generally will be with life.
2. Avoid focusing too much on your job
Sometimes we end up making our lives about our job. That’s the wrong way around – it should be that our jobs help enhance our lives, either because we’re doing what we enjoy and feel good about, or because they bring us financial security (or a little of both). When your life becomes about your job for longer than a year, you’re at greater risk for job burnout.
There’s nothing wrong with needing to focus on your job and putting in long hours from time to time. Many people do that at some point in their lives. But if you find that you’re sacrificing other things in your life for your job – your social life, your family, or even your own sanity – it’s time to take a serious look at your life priorities.
Seek to “right-size” your working hours once again and put the job back in its proper place within your life. Reprioritize your family and social life, and talk to your boss about your need to find a better balance in your life. Most people understand that the company isn’t your life – and if it’s expected to be, maybe it’s time to find a new company!
3. Avoid office politics
Workplace politics can be exhausting. Trying to figure out how others trying to get ahead might misconstrue your behaviors or words can take up a lot of focus and energy, all at the expense of actual work. It’s best to steer clear of office politics as best you can and just focus on your own career goals and job.
Office gossip often inadvertently leads to office politics. Minimize engaging in office gossip and you’ll discover that office politics will fade into the background. While it’s okay to do occasionally, don’t make it the focus of your workday or always try to second- guess a colleague’s or boss’s behavior. Sometimes a stapler really is just a stapler.
4. Avoid overworking
Some people have a hard time saying “no” to virtually anything job-related. They believe they will be seen as a team player who helps everyone out. But you can also end up being the team doormat that everyone takes advantage of to reduce their own workload.
Don’t let yourself become the “go-to” person that everyone expects will pick up their slack or help them in a tight squeeze. While it’s fine to help your coworkers when the need arises, there’s a fine line before that becomes an expectation – and another workload added to your own.
If it’s not a one-time emergency, politely decline requests to help out on projects where others were expected to do the work. Or, if you need to accept something, ensure what you agree to do is in proportion to your own workload.
5. Better manage your time
Sometimes we feel burned out by our jobs because we feel as though we always have too much to do, and not enough time to do it. This can be a sign of poor time management, spending too much time on unimportant tasks (such as checking one’s email obsessively every five minutes) and too little time focused on the important ones.
Prioritizing your tasks is a key to better time management. Not everything has the same priority. A project your boss gave you until Friday to finish needs to get done while re-doing your organization of a spreadsheet or tool closet can wait.
If you’re in an office job, try setting aside only three or four times throughout the day that you will check and respond to emails. Email is one of the banes of personal productivity; research has shown that most people multitask very poorly. Reduce multitasking as much as your job allows and process tasks one at a time, in the order of their priority.
If your job requires paperwork to be done for many tasks, try to do it at the time of the task rather than saving it for later. When we face a pile of paperwork that needs to be filled out, we often keep letting it go and grow until it becomes unmanageable and overwhelming.
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Job burnout happens to most of us at some point in our lives. The key is to recognize it before it becomes a major problem and work on resolving it, or reducing it, before it overwhelms your life.