Running on Empty, Feeling Burnout

Strategies to Beat Back Burnout

Jul 27

Running on Empty burnoutBurnout isn’t a new phenomenon – it’s a raging wildfire that engulfs more of us in its burn circle every day. The relentless pace at which the world around us demands we push ourselves is unsustainable. You know that as well as I do.

One glance at your calendar tells you it’s another day crammed full of an endless stream of virtual meetings, emails to answer and deadlines to meet. At the end of a long day, you walk away not feeling a sense of accomplishment but worn out, cynical and running on empty.

What you might not know is that mitigating burnout isn’t an individual responsibility alone.

Research shows that situational factors are the biggest contributors to burnout; therefore, the organizations we work for and the people we work with have a substantial role to play in helping restore the purpose, joy and harmony in our professional and personal life.

Beating back burnout demands we all think differently about how and what we do each and every day. Here are some things that people, leaders and organizations can do:

Find Harmony, not Balance
Balance isn’t what people need – people need harmony. Limit exposure to tasks, people and situations that impede one’s ability to create harmony.  Look for ways that create contentment in the key areas of their lives, including work.

Know Where the Burnout Edge Is
High levels of stress not only come from doing something we don’t like – it also comes from doing something we value. Notice where the edge is for yourself and others: that line between high-energy engagement and pre-burnout. Use strategic pauses and opportunities to reset expectations and leverage flexible working styles to keep everyone from falling into the abyss.

Mindfulness = Culture
The advantages of being mindful are well-known. Make mindfulness a constant in your culture. Learn, share and consistently practice the behaviors that support detaching from stressful moments to reinvigorate and re-center for what lies ahead. Resolve to respect each others’ time, don’t book into open spaces on calendars automatically, don’t email in the evening or early morning hours and take time away and ensure others do too.

Mentor, Coach, and Befriend Others
Hire and promote the best people – make building rich interpersonal relationships part of their non-negotiable skill set. When mutual support and advocacy are the norms, people seek out opportunities to mentor, coach and befriend others. They share the highs and the lows, limiting any individual’s march toward burnout.

Consistent practice of the above strategies is essential to quelling the wildfire of burnout. Do them regularly – including when you don’t think you have the time, energy or patience to do it – not running away from the challenge will bring great rewards in the long run.

Let me know your thoughts and best ideas for stopping or recovering from burnout in the comments below.