Tired of burnout? Want to be more productive at work? Of course, those are rhetorical questions. After all, you wouldn’t have clicked on this article if you didn’t think there was something here that could help you with both.
So, what does burnout cost you personally? Let’s see here.
Depression, anxiety, lack of concentration, sleeplessness, frequent illness, and fatigue are just some of the baggage you get, according to an article in Forbes. So, while you are trying to deal with burnout, you will have to deal with all of these issues as well.
Did I mention the financial toll? Yes, there is a financial toll as you could lose your job (if you are working for someone else) or make less money (failure to finish up projects if you are self-employed).
So how do you avoid burnout and increase productivity?
Most of this advice falls into the “eat healthy” and “exercise” type recommendations that your doctor tells you at your yearly physical. However, you need to hear it more than just once per year so I am putting it in writing for you to access all year round (are you happy now?).
Anyway, here are five of the top things that help me be more productive and steer clear of workplace burnout.
Call it beauty sleep or whatever you want. Fact is, you need it for more than just looking good. Your brain won’t function properly without it.
This fact has been hammered home time and time again by Arianna Huffington and for good reason. Hell, she’s even recommended that President Trump get more sleep.
Sleep has a direct impact on our health. An unhealthy body is unable to cope with the stresses we face every day at work. If we are unable to cope, burnout will set in quickly.
Unfortunately, most people don’t understand this point and do the opposite.
“The irony is that a lot of people forego sleep in the name of productivity,” Huffington told Fast Company. “But in fact our productivity is reduced substantially when we’re sleep deprived.”
For me, I was happy to read this advice. I have put it to the test and it really works. Getting that extra hour of sleep can help you increase productivity as you are rested and ready to focus on work.
Don’t just take Arianna’s word for it, look at study after study that recommends getting the proper amount of rest. In fact, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology shows that people who get less than six hours of sleep per night were more likely to suffer from burnout while on the job.
Despite our beliefs that a quick pick-me-up will help with productivity, experts agree that there is harm that can come in the long run. Coffee, nicotine, and prescription drugs can all have harmful effects. Here is why.
Taking stimulants long-term can make you dependent. I remember the days when an energy drink would give me a boost, which then transitioned to a time when I needed one just to function normally. After a while, I was drinking three a day and not having any positive effect. What happened in return?
Burnout happened. Since I no longer had a stimulant to help keep me going, I fell hard.
Aside from things like coffee and energy drinks, prescription drugs can do the same. People abusing drugs such as Adderall can receive harmful side effects such as anxiety, addiction, and hallucinations.
If you don’t think prescription drugs can be harmful since they are approved by the FDA for use, take a look at all the class action lawsuits against drug companies. You could be taking a “safe” stimulant now that you will not realize the effects of until later down the road.
Long story short, stay off the stimulants to help you with productivity. Keep your body on an even keel and the other methods discussed herein will have a better chance of helping with burnout.
If you are avoiding stimulants and getting plenty of sleep, your body is on the level playing field it needs to be. Now all you need to do is build it up naturally. How do you do that?
Diet and exercise.
NO WAIT! Don’t leave just yet. And yes, if you are anything like me this is where you click away to another article, but hear me out.
You don’t have to go meatless and engage in vigorous workouts to help your body. Do it gradually. In fact, the slower the better as you will not stress yourself out. How do you do it gradually?
For starters, when you go to a store park a few rows farther away to get the extra few steps in. Cut back on salt, fat, and sweets by just a few bites (hint, don’t eat the fat off the ribeye but enjoy the rest of the steak).
Also know that you don’t have to go it alone. There is plenty of technology that can assist, such as wearables to track your exercise or joining a Foodstand Challenge.
I recently read an article in AllBusiness about business burnout where 10 small business owners gave their advice on how to avoid it. Although each supplied a slightly different opinion, all of them followed the same theme.
If you get burned out, simply leave and get away.
You do no good to yourself or your business if you sit there in front of a computer just staring. If you are not getting work done because of burnout, simply leave and do something else. Take a few hours off and go have some fun (or exercise — I know, I know).
The good news is you don’t have to wait until you are burned out to get away. According to one business owner in the article, scheduling time for yourself can help avoid burnout in the first place.
“One area most of us neglect is ourselves,” said Denise O’Berry. “The truth is, you can’t be successful if you’re running on an empty tank. I’ve been there a few times over the last 20 years in business, and I had to force myself to take a step back and remind myself that my business can’t be successful if I’m not in tip top shape.”
Based on my own experience, simply get up and leave when you are burned out. You can have some fun time and feel refreshed when you return. According to O’Berry, you can even schedule the time in advance to help avoid burnout in the first place.
Why do you think tech companies like Google have “play areas” for their employees?
I know that you have heard this all before but it helps to hear it again. We are creatures of habit and if we read it enough times, it will start to sink in and maybe we will try it. I have to admit that I am taking the healthy eating advice slower than I should, but taking advantage of the sleep is surely helping.
Regardless of what method you use, avoiding burnout is the key to being more productive. After all, you cannot get anything done when you are worrying about getting things done. Did that make sense? Probably not, but at least you have some options.
What are some things you do to avoid burnout? Have you tried any of these methods and did they help?
Originally published at medium.com