Sooner or later every job reaches that point where it starts to get stale. It may be that the job is no longer working for you, or even that you are no longer effective in handling it. Whatever the mechanics of the situation leading up to it, the ultimate outcome is job burnout. But the answer is never to live with it, but rather to overcome job burnout – and there’s a lot you can do in that direction.
Try to Identify the Root Cause of the Problem
As you contemplate how your work might be holding you back, consider whether or not you are experiencing burnout as the result of one of the following:
Sometimes it’s not so much the work, as the amount of it that you are doing. Perpetually working long hours is a way to experience burnout. If you are 50, 60, or 70 hours a week (or more!), your job begins to feel as though it is taking over your life. A few months ago, I realized that I didn’t have time to do anything for me because I was working so much. Being able to step back and reduce my workload really helped. You need to have a life outside work, and working so much can start to wear you down.
Many people prefer work that allows them to do different tasks and provides some variety in their day. When work becomes too repetitive, and loses its challenge and interest, it’s easy to become burned out. Consider your career strategy. It might be that you are failing to prepare yourself for the next step and that you have become stuck in a job that looks the same every day. If you are feeling unmotivated and burned out, it could be due to the repetitive nature of the work.
Even if you love your work, it’s possible that you can become burned out if the people around you are difficult to deal with. Office politics can cause burn out. Trying to keep out of the fray, and trying to maneuver the political landscape at work can be emotionally draining — not to mention a real damper on productivity. Many people find ways to be productive and avoid office politics by telecommuting at least two or three days a week. With technology being what it is, it makes sense to consider whether or not you could telecommute and avoid some of the burnout from office politics.
Balancing Your Life
In a lot of ways, burnout is about an imbalance somewhere between your life and work. Take a step back and try to pinpoint what, exactly, is bothering you about your job. If you can find a way to decrease the problems you are having, there is a good chance that you will be happier in your work, as well as in other areas of your life.
Work On Getting Better Control Of Your Workflow
Having a sense of being overwhelmed at work is common these days. Most of us are multitasking as a regular part of the job. That’s to be expected in a competitive economy, and we have to rise up and meet that challenge no matter how difficult it may be. But there is a line you cross where you finally become overwhelmed by the responsibilities and you’re no longer effective in your job. That’s a classic recipe for job burnout.
If you feel that you are at that point, there are two ways to handle it, and you’ll probably have to use both.
Find ways to streamline your workflow. Carefully analyze all of your job responsibilities. You can do this while you’re at work, but you’ll probably have to spend additional time off the job as well. Make a list of everything you do in your job, then prioritize each task. Put the most important at the top, and work down in descending order. If you find that you have little time available to achieve your most important tasks, you’ll probably identify the root of your burnout. You must be in a position to be able to spend the majority of your time on your most important tasks, and if you can’t then you need to reshuffle the deck.
Once you’ve cleaned up your own house in this regard, you’ll be in a better position to go to the next step.
Talk to your supervisor(s) about your situation. Have you ever heard the term if you have a difficult job, give it to a busy man – he’ll find a better way? That happens all the time in the workplace. People who seem most capable are given the most work precisely because everyone knows they’ll get it done. This can reach a point of diminishing returns. If you are routinely called upon to do everyone else’s work, your own workload is probably suffering. That needs to be fixed.
Armed with your own plan for how to streamline your workflow through your own efforts, you should be in a good position to go to your supervisors, tell them the problem, let them know what you’re planning to do about it on your end, and enlist their support. Improving your performance will be important to them as well, so this shouldn’t be a hard-sell effort.
Talk to Your Superiors About Creating a New Path For Your Job
Sometimes the problem is your job is no longer fulfilling. It may be that you’ve outgrown the position you started. Or it may be that the job went in other directions that were not to your liking. Whatever the cause, request reconsideration of your position, and see if new and more exciting responsibilities can be added to the job description.
Sometimes just making a change in the right direction is all that you need to recharge your battery on your job. Figure out what it is you would like to do before pitching the idea to your supervisors. You should have some idea what you’re looking for, which should make it easier for your boss and her bosses to help you make it happen.
Request Re-assignment With the Same Employer
This may carry some risk, since many employers want you exactly where you are, even if you aren’t thriving in the position. It’s also possible there is no other position to move you into. Start by keeping your eyes and ears open. You may hear about a position coming open before it is advertised to the general job market. Already being in the company may give you a leg up on the competition and you may be able to move into that position.
Once again, you need to do some deep soul-searching here, so that you are certain of what it is you want. Some employers are very open to giving employees growth opportunities, while others are only minimally concerned with employee satisfaction and career development. You’ll have to take the initiative, and lay out some sort of a plan before approaching management.
It can sometimes be advantageous – though also risky – to talk to the people in charge of the department that you might be interested in moving into. It’s a way of building alliances that might enable you to make the transition with far less opposition.
The Problem May Be Off The Job
Sometimes job burnout isn’t a result of anything that’s happening on the job. If you’re dealing with major stresses in your personal life, they can spill over to the workplace. In addition, if you are generally bored with your life outside of work, that can also affect your performance.
Do what you can to get control of any personal difficulties you’re experiencing. Since that may take longer than you expect, you’ll need to be patient in dealing with your job until things begin to improve.
If you’re simply bored with your life overall, maybe it’s time to do something radically different. Consider taking up a hobby or activity that you’ve never been involved in the past. For example, it could mean joining a high-intensity exercise program. It could also mean learning a musical instrument or foreign language. And sometimes, it can also mean starting your own side business.
Find out what it is that will add some excitement to your life, and then pursue it. You may find that an improvement in your life off the job makes your job burnout go away.
If All Else Fails, It May Be Time to Look for a New Job
If you’ve tried some or all the above, and you’re still feeling burned out at work, it may simply be time to look for a new job. You could be dealing with conflicts with management, or even with coworkers. You may also simply find that there is no place for you in the future of the organization, even though the company considers you to be highly valuable in the position you’re now in.
If any of these factors seem to be the case, it may just be time to move on. If so, get started now and don’t delay. Just by starting a job search you can go a long way toward at least minimizing the burnout factor. Burnout often comes from a sense of a lack of control; by launching a job search, you’ll be taking a major step toward restoring that control into your own hands.
You spend too much of your time on the job to pretend that job burnout isn’t a problem. However, you handle it, doing something proactive will put you into a better situation to overcome job burnout. You deserve it – and so does your employer.