Monday, January 22, 2007

Why Suffer Another Year of Burnout?

Usually, as the end of any year approaches, like clockwork I hear a few people complain about burnout: that powerless, "stuck," bored, anxious and drained-of-energy feeling that would make anyone want to get out quick.

Part of the problem is that technology now makes it possible for us to work round-the-clock. I see people consulting their PDAs in meetings, restaurants, moving cars and recently even at a funeral! The question is: Why suffer with bad burnout habits … especially when you can change your behavior at the start of the year, thereby preventing the slow onset of this "disease"?

Here are a few tactics I’ve employed throughout my career to keep big, bad burnout from biting Ken Makovsky:

- Take your allotted vacation time — all of it — whether it's in snippets or in one big lump.

- Find your own "decompression techniques" — activities such as cat naps, meditation or exercise — that relieve tension and help you relax. Don't just think about it. Do it!

- When your desk is loaded and you don't know what to do first, step back, make a list and determine your priorities. You can only start reducing the pile “one piece of paper” at a time.

- Faced with a barrage, do the little tiny things first that others may be waiting on, each of which may take 5 to 10 minutes. Save up the bulk of your time for the single big important task that also has to be completed that day. You may also need to clear your priorities with your boss.

- Many burnout types suffer from the "I am the only one who does great work" syndrome. Forget it! You're not! Don't edit other people's work when there’s no need.

- Ask for help before it is too late and something doesn't get done or, worse yet, you suffer. But, for example, if you are approaching your boss, think in advance about what will really help (e.g., offloading a particular assignment, work in getting better support, resetting priorities which may involve calling a client in advance and setting a new deadline).

- Build a support system for yourself with people (including, hopefully, your boss) who can help you find solutions. Griping to others who cannot facilitate change only makes it worse, and it affects morale. A plan of action is the only solution.

- Practice staying calm when the storm hits. It really works, but it doesn't happen overnight. It is a cultivated skill. Begin working at it now.

As I have said before, if we do not periodically disconnect from the web and our jobs, we will be unable to connect with life.

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burnout, decompression techniques,
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Blogger Stephen Larrick said...

Ken said, "If we do not periodically disconnect from the web and our jobs, we will be unable to connect with life."

That's a great quote, I think that is very well put. I'll be saving that one and pulling it out to share with sometime in the future I'm sure.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007 1:02:00 AM  
Blogger Ken Makovsky said...

Thanks! I'm glad you like my point of view and how it was stated.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 9:22:00 AM  

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