6 Productivity Tips to Avoid Burnout

Burnout isn't just your regular fatigue and lack of energy that will disappear after a good night's sleep and a couple of days off.

It's a complex syndrome bought on by prolonged, unresolved, work-related stress, which renders the affected constantly tired, emotionally drained, mentally exhausted, unmotivated, and unproductive. Another tell-tale symptom of burnout is harboring negative feelings towards one's job and career.

If untreated, burnout can lead to depression, anxiety, as well as affect not only professional but also personal interactions.

The latest survey by Gallup has shown that 23% out of 7,500 respondents report feeling burned out always or very often, while other 44% said they feel burned out sometimes. This practically means that more than 60% of employees suffer from this crippling condition.

Here are some productivity tips to help you avoid becoming a part of this statistic by changing your routine.

1. Learn to Say No

Regardless of what you do and whether you're a full-time employee or a freelancer, it's essential to include this very short word in your vocabulary.

If you always say yes to another meeting, new task, or client, you'll soon be overwhelmed and incapable of staying engaged and productive. Even if you love your job, sometimes you have to draw the line and understand that having some time to yourself and your personal life is more important than anything else.

All the extra workload, working weekends, and new projects will start to wear on you, and your performance will suffer.

It's crucial to prioritize high-value tasks and projects and focus on them.

2. Schedule Your Free Time

Many people tend to take themselves for granted and do not take their own free time seriously.

And that's a big mistake.

When you have to do something or meet with someone, you clear up your schedule and plan your time accordingly, and that's exactly what you should do when it comes to your me-time. Treat it just like it's any other reserved time slot and don't feel bad for not canceling on yourself if something else comes up.

Stick to this plan, and if you're too busy, even a 30-minute break will help you recharge and relax.

This way you'll achieve more than if you work all day.

3. Delegate and Outsource

Asking for help isn't admitting a defeat, and by no means does that mean that you're weak.

So, when you have too much on your plate, don't try to complete all your tasks on your own.

If you're an entrepreneur or a manager, delegate some of the tasks and assign them to the members of your team based on their skills and competences. This will allow you to free up more time for the tasks that directly affect growing your business.

If you're a one-(wo)man-band, and if there's no room in your budget for hiring full-time employees who would be on your payroll, you can always resort to hiring contractors. For example, outsourcing your calls, administrative tasks, customer service, payroll processing, and HR can lift a lot of weight off your shoulders and let you do only the work you enjoy.

4. Exercise

A sedentary lifestyle riddled with stress and fast food can be particularly detrimental for your health, and combined with all the work-related pressure turns you into a ticking time bomb.

This lethal cocktail is a recipe not only for surefire burnout but also for heart disease, diabetes type 2, obesity, different types of cancer, not to mention that it doubles the risk of premature death.

A solution to this is hitting the gym, running track, or at least yoga mat. In other words, any kind of physical activity that suits your fitness level will do wonders for your health as well as for reducing stress, increasing productivity, preventing cognitive decline, and generally speaking, your overall well-being.

Although it may seem counterproductive to suggest someone who's already on the cusp of collapsing from overwork to start with physical activity, it's actually the best way to replenish your energy levels and let off steam.

5. Socialize

Sometimes we're so absorbed and invested in work that we don't have enough time for our friends and family.

And this is a dangerous trap because people are social beings and they need the company of other people. Spending time with the loved ones is like soul food, and it can even help you handle stress.

In other words, when you're going through a rough patch, it's best to share your problems and concerns with your friends and family, as they can both help you with some advice and take your mind off the worst-case scenarios and catastrophic thinking.

While it's great to have friends at work, try to maintain regular relationships with people outside that circle as that's how you'll prevent making work your entire life. That's why it's essential to schedule a brunch, movie night, or drinks with your best friends who aren't your colleagues and disconnect from work.

5. Meditate

Meditation can have a very soothing effect on your mind and is thus just what the doctor ordered.

This doesn't have to be the actual, fully-fledged meditation – you can simply sit down, close your eyes, and start breathing deeply in and out. Even ten minutes a day can do wonders for calming your anxious mind and helping you focus better on your tasks.

There even are apps that you can use to guide you through the process.

6. Travel

A change of scenery can be extremely beneficial, especially if you feel like running on the hamster wheel.

You don't even have to go too far. A weekend in a nearby getaway destination will definitely recharge your batteries.

If you're working remotely, then you can simply grab your laptop and spend the next week, month, or even longer than that, traveling around and working. Apart from being an excellent weapon for battling burnout, traveling is also good for sparking your creativity, boosting your productivity, and gaining a fresh perspective on things.

Burnout can be tricky as it's hard to tell it apart from the feeling of exhaustion, but if you are aware what causes this condition, what its symptoms are, and how to avoid it, you can tweak a couple of things in your daily routine, work on improving your productivity, and keep it at bay.


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Michael Deane

Michael Deane

Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine.

When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.

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