Flirting can be fun — unless you’re flirting with burnout. And unfortunately, burnout seems to be a bigger and bigger problem each year. Nevertheless, you don’t have to give in to burnout’s siren call. You just have to implement a few new burnout-busting habits.
Back in the late 2010s, burnout was already on the rise. Gallup figures from 2018 revealed that about 67% of employees had experienced burnout at some point. However, the pandemic seemed to kick burnout and stress into high gear. Case in point: By 2022, self-reported burnout had risen to 76%. Burnout can impede career success and a negative impact on your personal brand.
What’s the antidote, though? As with most workplace concerns, the answer is multifaceted. However, by taking simple steps, you can chip away at stress. One of those simple steps is starting each day with a feeling of control.
Taking charge right away helps ward off burnout by putting power into your hands. After all, it isn’t easy to be calm when you feel overloaded and pulled in nine directions by 8:00 a.m. On the other hand, it’s less nerve-wracking to approach even a jam-packed schedule if you’re mentally prepared from the get-go.
To reduce your chances of burning out, try these suggestions. They’ll help you take charge of your day instead of letting it take charge of you.
1. Cross off a small (but important) to-do item before bed.
Wouldn’t it be great if your to-do list was a bit shorter in the morning? One way to accomplish this is to complete a task before you go to sleep at night. Nothing compares with knowing that you got a head start on all your responsibilities. Plus, you’ll be less apt to toss and turn.
Seth Casden, CEO and co-founder of Hologenix, a materials science company dedicated to developing products that amplify human potential, relies on this strategy to stay calm. As he explains, the simple act of reviewing his upcoming 24 hours can have a palpable, positive effect on his psyche. “Sometimes, just looking over my calendar for the next day helps me relax,” he writes. “Even if the calendar shows a stressful, packed schedule, I feel more clear-headed about it.”
This doesn’t mean you should launch into a full-scale Google Slides project 10 minutes before hitting the hay. Nevertheless, scan your assignments and workload. If there’s something you can do quickly and without much effort, do it.
2. Embrace non-tech-focused morning rituals.
When the first thing you do every morning is grab your phone, read your texts and emails, and start working, you give yourself zero time to relax. Rather, you allow tech to worm its way into your brain — and potentially ramp up your stress. In a 2019 study, about one-third of employees said job-related tech increased their stress.
A better solution than diving right into the cold water of occupational commitments is to set up a non-tech morning routine. Your routine can be anything you like. Maybe it’s making a hot breakfast. Perhaps it’s exercising or meditating. Just be sure that it doesn’t involve screens, pings, or phone calls. Stress expert Jordan Friedman suggests that you “start the day with something that brings you joy, like expressing gratitude, taking a walk outside or reading an article related to your greatest passion.”
Though it’s nice to incorporate something healthy into your ritual for an added mental and physical wellness boost, you don’t have to go that route to get some benefits. As long as you’re not handing over your time to work or technology, you’re doing good things for your spirit.
3. Divide your duties into hourly chunks.
Have you ever looked at your daily to-dos and instantly felt your heart rate increase and your blood pressure rise? This is a common reaction to seeing what appears to be an endless list of time-consuming responsibilities.
A method to make all those responsibilities look less daunting is to structure your activities by hour. This is what Laura Mae Martin does, according to a piece on time management published in The Wall Street Journal. Martin, a Google executive productivity adviser, sees this activity as akin to setting an agenda for a meeting — except your daily agenda is just for you: “If you set an agenda for a meeting, everybody is in the right place mentally, they know exactly what you’re going to talk about, and the meeting starts right away, and you’re on topic,” explains Martin.
You can “chunk” your to-dos the night before or in the morning. Either way, you’ll find it simpler to tackle your list systematically. As a result, you’ll reduce that heavy feeling associated with being overburdened by a looming checklist that seems impossible to finish.
Burnout might affect a majority of workers, but it doesn’t have to be an inevitability. Being proactive can prevent you from experiencing consistently high anxiety and frustration levels, leading to a happier, healthier life.