Extinguishing Job Burnout

Written by Bridget Edwards

If you got laid off from your job, would you be sad or relieved? Sure, not having income is worrisome, but this is an important question to ask about something that takes up a tremendous amount of our lives.

For most people, jobs provide a standard routine. Odds are the next 365 days of work are going to be fairly similar to the last 365. Those with jobs will log a predictable 2,000 hours or so of work over that time span. Having a predictable work routine may be desirable to some, but for most people, such a routine can become tiring and uninteresting; when this happens, our desire to work decreases. When stress, bad work relationships and politics get thrown in to the mix, the 9 to 5 becomes a thing to dread.

So instead of dreading the next year of work, here are some tips on how to recognize when you might need to rethink your work life.

What is Job Burnout?

Burnout is a condition of exhaustion, cynicism and lack of professional efficacy that is often caused by chronic stress, according to Christine Louise Hohlbaum, author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in our 24/7 World. This state of exhaustion and cynicism is often coupled with doubt about your competence and a lack of motivation or devotion to your work. Job burnout comes in various degrees, so try this self-evaluation to see if this is something you’re facing:

  • Do you have to drag yourself to work?
  • Do you feel disengaged from your work?
  • Are you doing things that you are passionate about?
  • Do you find satisfaction in your professional accomplishments?
  • Are you having trouble sleeping or has your appetite changed?

If you’re answering yes to a lot of these questions, it’s time to do something different. Work makes up such a significant part of the week that just fighting through the misery is not a viable long-term solution.

In 2016, only 54% of employees were completely satisfied with their jobs. To help the rest of us avoid job burnout, keep an eye out for these top causes:

  • Excessive repetition.
  • High demands and low rewards.
  • Imbalance with personal life.
  • Unclear or unrealistic expectations.
  • Poor fit with skills or interests.
  • Poor relationships with those at work.

How to Reverse Job Burnout

If you find that you are getting burned out from your job, don’t give up! Here are few simple changes you can make to get back into a positive groove:

  • Talk to your employer about assignment changes at work.
  • Rethink your work pace.
  • Rearrange the order in which you complete tasks.
  • Change how you use break time and lunches.
  • Be friendly to coworkers.
  • Get more exercise and sleep.
  • Rearrange or decorate your office space.
  • Use your vacation days.
  • Make room for ‘me’ time every day.

Job burnout is something that just about everyone faces, especially when routines are stiff. But, it’s important to remember that we don’t need to be suffering through our work. In fact, we should be enjoying each day!

One vital thing to do to avoid burnout is to utilize the small breaks you get during the work day. You’ll have lunch and a few 5-10 minutes breaks hopefully. Instead of scrolling through social media, go on a walk, read a light-hearted book or call a loved one.

To support this idea, the Draugiem Group studied the habits of productive employees and found that the most productive people worked for 52 minutes at a time and then took a 17 minute break before diving back in. It may be that working in sprints is the most effective.

When to Quit

Jobs aren’t going to be fulfilling and enjoyable all the time. In fact, overcoming difficulties in a career is often what makes the career rewarding. Work is not fun, but it can be the source of great self-respect.

Leaving your current employment should be considered when you and your ideas are not respected. You should also expect your employer to respect your personal and family life. Here are some other red flags to consider:

  • Supervisors use threats.
  • You’re lied to frequently.
  • You have no confidence in leadership.
  • Work is affecting your health.


Sources: psychcentral.com, www.mayoclinic.org, inc.com

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