The 3 Best Ways to Avoid Career Burnout

Your hard work is only worth it if you can enjoy yourself throughout the process.

Getty Images
Getty Images

By Jessica Desjardins

In many ways, a successful corporate career is a game of stamina and patience. I’ve seen many high-potential individuals burn out in a flame of glory because they couldn’t pace themselves. Don’t be that person! Your hard work and long hours are only worth it if you can enjoy yourself throughout the process. Here are my top 3 tips for avoiding burnout.

1. Own your calendar

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to schedule a meeting with a colleague before Outlook gave us the ability to see our co-workers’ availability. A wonderful tool, but it came at a cost. Gone are the Mad Men days of mouthing to the assistant “tell her I’m at lunch… for the rest of the week!” At many companies, there is an unspoken rule that “free” time on your calendar is anyone’s time to take. Up for grabs by all! Um… It’s not. Do you find yourself groaning as you hit accept on that 30 minutes you really needed to organize for your next big meeting? Don’t do it! Your time is yours to give, not theirs to take.

2. Prioritize

As you move up in your career, there will be more emails in your inbox, more tasks on your to-do list, and more meetings on your calendar. You need to be able to quickly prioritize so you spend your valuable time and energy efficiently. Nothing burns you out quicker than week after week getting to “end of day” and realizing you have hours of work ahead of you on that really important thing you couldn’t get to all day. Start each day (or end the day prior) by taking a step back and evaluating what the most impactful tasks you need to accomplish are. That might be making a few quick phone calls, polishing that PowerPoint presentation, or scheduling that coffee chat with a mentor or mentee.

3. Know how to recharge – and quickly

There will be crunch time periods where you are giving your all at work and your free time is virtually non-existent. It is essential that in these moments you spend that limited free time on activities that recharge you FAST. Experiment to figure out what works best – meditation, a walk around the block, a quick phone call with mom – and spend your free time on those supercharging activities. While binge-watching American Vandal may help you escape, evaluate if it delivers enough value relative to the time it takes. And sleep. Know how much you need to get to be happy and make getting it a priority. Sleep deprivation is the fast track to burnout town.

A great piece of advice I’ve gotten in my career is to have fun with your job. Whether you enjoy your work or not is largely up to you. By taking care of yourself and avoiding burnout, you can create a work life that is fun and can go the distance. Work is a serious place, and there will be hard times, but you get one life and you need to be loving it every step of the way. Yes, I mean you should be #livingmybestlife every day.


Jessica S. Desjardins is an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management where she is changing the way financial advisors interact with the firm and their clients through technology. Jessica is part of the leadership team for Ellevate New York where she runs content programming with the goal of creating opportunities for women to connect in authentic ways over relevant career topics and become a little braver in the process.

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