Six Steps to De-Stress and Avoid Burnout in the Workplace

Any New Yorker will tell you: We are stressed out! (If you don’t believe the hype, there’s even research to support it.) And though most of us have methods for dealing with times of high stress, avoiding workplace burnout isn’t always easy. Face it; there are probably times when you’re a bona fide workaholic. (And in a world where it’s so easy to get caught up in the limitless access to work, who could blame you?) But if you’re looking for a less-stressful lifestyle, it’s vital to manage your time well, set boundaries and establish methods you can use to help prevent the dreaded burnout that comes from working too hard for too long.

Here are some tips to help alleviate stress:

  1. Design your day. You wouldn’t do your weekend errands without thinking about how to get the most done in the least amount of time, so don’t just jump into your day without a plan. Trying to tackle a mountain of work without a plan can lead to disorganization and missed deadlines. Instead, use the first 10 minutes of your day to make a prioritized list of to-dos, identifying assignments by importance and time sensitivity. This short time investment at the beginning of your day (try using the time when your computer is starting up or you’re waiting for the office coffee to brew) will have incredible payoff in the end, leaving you mentally prepared to take on your assignments in the most effective way possible.
  2. Be mess-free. The amount of times people define their workspace as organized chaos is countless. But there is something about a clear desk that makes being productive much easier. Taking some time at the start or the end of your week to clean your workspace will leave you with a fresh start and prevent you from having to scramble for notes, files or other important documents.
  3. Step up your time management skills. Time management is a key factor in avoiding burnout. Be discerning when accepting meetings. We all know how many ineffective meetings clutter the day, and your time is precious. Another tip: Try blocking your calendar for important assignments so you can focus your attention and not worry about interruptions.
  4. Prevent procrastination. Of course, avoiding procrastination is not an easy task. Pushing back a dreaded assignment can (and does) happen. But this will only make your problem worse. If you are consistently pushing or missing deadlines, you will not only add to your stress level, but you could also cause strain on your professional relationships. 
  5. Be realistic. We all have our limits. There is only so much that you can achieve in any given time period. Burnout often comes from never saying no and taking on more than you can handle. If you’re having trouble getting everything done, discuss with your manager what’s currently on your plate and ask for help putting your workload into perspective.
  6. Set boundaries. Setting limits is fruitless unless you hold yourself to them. Commit to ending your day once you’ve gone home (no checking email at night!) and not working when you’ve taken time off (like during vacation). If you plan wisely, you will be able to handle what’s on your plate and avoid burnout.

These tips should act as a starting point for your stress-reducing, burnout-busting efforts. Over time, you’ll refine them or develop new strategies that work best for you. But, remember, the key is committing to them! With preparation and dedication to managing your day and your stress, it will become second nature and a part of your routine in no time!

What’s your favorite approach to avoiding burnout? Share with us below!