It's a stuffy Sunday night and you've given in, having already checked your work emails on your Blackberry or iPhone for urgent issues or problems within your teams. You are slowly coming to realize that your current job is completely unrelenting.
How does your Monday morning look? You are due in the office for an early catch up with your boss at 8 am sharp! Time to thrash through a list of tasks as long as your arm, no doubt using antiquated software which crashes every 5 mins; joy is clearly not on your horizon tomorrow morning. Your mind is now already at work but the predicted thunderstorms are weighing you down, if anything delays the trains tomorrow, you will need to sort taxis first thing to avoid letting your boss and clients down.
If one meeting runs over then you’re going to be late for the next, causing you to lose the professional reputation you’ve fought so hard for. It becomes obvious to you that you’re constantly on the go, and if one thing goes wrong it can have repercussions for the rest of your day where your schedule is constantly jam-packed.
If the realization has dawned on you that the Blackberry or iPhone has been quietly vibrating all weekend, and the last 48 hours spent away from the desk has been a poor use of your time, you may be in need of some reinvigoration at work and maybe suffering career fatigue or burnout. We all know that sometimes your job can feel like a bubbling cauldron of problems, meetings, and people pleasing; spinning plates that you constantly have to look after otherwise, everything could fantastically crash to the ground. If the grey hairs seem to be winning, it may be time to reflect on your career and follow some tried and tested methods to avoid your current work stress or risk complete burnout.
What is Burnout?
Job burnout is known as a type of stress, a state of emotional or physical exhaustion linked to a loss of personal accomplishment or identity. Unfortunately, it is unlikely a doctor would diagnose burnout in a medical setting, it is not considered a standalone issue, but rather a myriad of factors all linking back to your career or current work.
Burnout can manifest in several ways that could negatively affect physical or mental health. At a glance, most people would not consider themselves suffering career fatigue or burnout, it's far easier to blame issues on certain individuals or a combination of factors in your life.
Realizing you are suffering burnout can feel self-defeating, after all, you've worked hard for your career and it would be counterintuitive to think you've brought this or that you cannot cope with your day to day work. No matter how you have got here, it's time to drop the taboo of work-related stress and burnout and identify the signs of career fatigue.
Once this has been identified, it's time to explore solutions to get you reinvigorated and enthusiastic about work again, alleviating career fatigue and recognizing the warning signs for the future.
Signs of Burnout
No one is advocating any self-diagnosis, if you are feeling like you need help, you should consult a medical professional.
What is beneficial, however, is to reflect on your current situation and ask yourself some difficult questions. This will also help you resolve any issues with practical solutions available online.
Some questions to get you started are below:
- Have you become overly critical or cynical specifically at work?
- Do you find you have to drag yourself to work or have trouble getting started?
- Have you become impatient with colleagues or irritated by clients?
- Lacking energy or feel consistently unproductive?
- Concentration lacking or are you easily distracted?
- Do you still get that satisfaction you once had from positive feedback or even achievements?
- Disillusioned about your job and your career?
- Are drugs or alcohol or even food being used to feel better?
- Suddenly suffering from insomnia or have your sleep patterns significantly changed?
- Is your physical health randomly giving you problems, this could include headaches, stomach or bowel problems?
Firstly, it's important to understand that any problems identified above can affect some individuals but that doesn't necessarily mean you are suffering from burnout or career fatigue. There are some fantastic ideas on the web of how to love your job again and these clever tricks may be all you need to reinvigorate your approach to work.
Some tried and tested solutions to combat work fatigue almost always start with knowing your options. Try explaining your situation with your boss, discuss how you are feeling and any practical solutions they can put in place that could help, this could include reevaluating your remit or looking at efficiencies within the technology space to reduce your workload. Communication is key, let your friends, family, colleagues even superiors know what and why you are feeling burnt out, they may have experienced something similar or have some techniques that could help.
If you feel you cannot talk to your boss or family etc, seek counsel from trained professionals. Mental health issues are widely recognized in work and organizations around the world support their staff with various schemes and healthcare options to support you. Other practical methods to combat burnout could include reducing your hours, becoming more sociable with colleagues to build better friendships if you are feeling alienated. Try re-evaluating your priorities or simply take time off to temporarily escape the rat race and recharge your batteries. Solutions that help you gain a new perspective may help reduce burnout in the short and possibly long term.
Recognizing career fatigue and burnout, and identifying common issues that may be the cause will help you lead a long and happy(ish we hope) career. Knowing when practical solutions should be applied and when to see a doctor, will help your mental wellbeing throughout your life. Guidance is widely available online by others in the same situation you find yourself in and reflecting on their decisions or feedback is key to understanding the problem many of us now face. Everyone should strive for a clear work/life balance, and no matter what issues you are facing, the ability to keep yourself fresh for the challenges ahead is the key to a long and fruitful career.