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Shutting Down: Avoiding Burnout in a 24/7 World

There’s no mistaking that the pace of life has changed in the last forty or fifty years. Life is coming at us like never before, with an absolute constant string of challenges that need our attention. And, to nobody’s surprise, that’s not exactly good for us. 

And, before anybody gets defensive saying that we actually don’t have it that bad, “back in my day,” any of that… here’s an MIT article showing that even medieval peasants worked less hours than we do. Ouch. 

Yes, burnout is a real thing. Even Forbes reports that 62% of employees say they have “hit the wall from the weight of burnout.” So, even the voice of big business acknowledges that it exists and it’s really obvious what’s causing it: the overall volume of work and the pace of it.

Working Smarter, Not Harder

Now, don’t get us wrong, we’re not anti-work. We’re pro-work. So, why the blog? Because if people hit that metaphorical burnout wall, they aren’t doing work. They’re disconnecting on the outside and dying on the inside. People are so stressed–overall–that doctors, researchers, and scientists of all sorts are looking all the way to your gut microbiome for ways to try and explain stress. We think the answer is a whole lot closer to the surface. Perhaps even as close as that timeless adage, “Work Smarter, Not Harder.”

Yes, we think that–even in the 21st century–the answer to one of life’s biggest challenges is something those medieval peasants would have recognized instantly. Use the tools available to you effectively. The world is awash in scheduler apps, communications tools, even AI bots that haven’t yet taken over the world. Use them! More importantly, find the set of tools that works best for the tasks you have and stick with them. If it seems you’re drilling a hole with a pushpin, maybe get a drill. 

It’s a deceptively simple ask that often gets caught up in the whirlwind as people rush from task to task, job to job, and end up with burnout. And, speaking of rushing from job to job, it’s time to reassess what you’re doing.

Assessing What You Do and Why

So, you’ve got your main job to pay the bills, you’ve got your side job to fill in the gaps, you’ve got your little “hustles” you run on the side of your side job to maybe have some fun sometime, you’ve got a home to run, very possibly a family to manage, you hope to have a hobby or two, and there’s just SO much. Does this sound familiar? Not to go too nerdy with the LOTR quotes, but if you’re beginning to feel “thin, like butter scraped over too much bread,” then it’s time for a serious reassessment of what you’re doing. 

If you’re running two-plus jobs to make ends meet, now is the time to look for a single job that would cover it all. Economic forecasts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics aren’t particularly rosy–with only 4.7 million jobs projected to be added over the next ten years–but that means now is a better time than ever to get into the right job. 

Even within your job, assess what tasks you are doing and whether they match with your original job requirements, compensation, etc. If they don’t, freshen up that resume. Actually, freshen it up either way. It never hurts to be prepared.

However, we get it, it’s not always possible to just pull stakes for a higher-paying job and leave your side work behind, and it’s never easy. So, if you’re looking at staying in a high-stress, burnout-generating job (or jobs) for a while, is there a way to help mitigate that stress? Fortunately, yes.

Reducing Burnout Stress in Your Job

Cards on the table, this section could have been a blog all on its own, but here are my three quick–and–dirty recommendations for reducing burnout in your job: take breaks, get physical, say no. 

  1. Take Breaks: Believe it or not, you have the right and ability to get up and walk away from your computer. Taking five minutes out of every hour to get up, look out a window, use the bathroom, basically anything except scroll your phone, will help your brain reset.

  2. Get Physical: You will have noted that I did say “get up and walk away” as you take breaks. That’s because physical activity is essential for reducing stress. You don’t have to go all the way to hitting a punching bag, lifting weights, or chopping wood. It’s not for everybody (though, man, does it ever work), so you may want to try walking some stairs, walking outside, yoga, stretching, anything that lets you pull your mind away and push stress out. 

  3. Say No: More people need to learn this skill than you’d believe. If you’re already overloaded, it’s okay to say no. It’s your manager/boss’s job to effectively manage the workloads of their employees, and if they don’t know you’re at capacity, they can’t do that. Grudgingly accepting another task when you’re already drowning helps exactly no one. Least of all you. 

With burnout stalking over 60% of the workforce and stress affecting… well… everyone, this isn’t a problem that can be addressed by further “hustle culture” or “bootstraps” work ethic anymore. But work isn’t going anywhere and work culture is unlikely to change. What we can change is us. We can adapt and come back stronger. So, hopefully some of these tips and strategies have helped you. Still feel you need more help managing the stress of your tasks? Consider giving one of our personal virtual assistants a call!

Diagnosis Burnout Sign


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