When I was sixteen years old, I landed my first job working at Sonic as a Carhop. Anyone who knew me back then can attest to how much pride I took in that job. I spent so much time becoming a subject matter expert in every area that made that restaurant work! Yes, that was me, even back then.
At a time when a lot of my peers were going to parties and spending weekends in the mall, I was already putting in WERK, becoming a section chief and manager at seventeen, often opening the store at 10:00 in the morning and closing it down on Saturday nights.
Looking back on it now, I’ve come to realize that the child me and the adult me in terms of work ethic are exactly the same! Hard-working, ambitious, a reforming perfectionist as I like to call myself! These are all personality traits that have carried me successfully through my time in the military and now in my current career with the federal government.
However, that same determination and drive have also led to times that I’ve taken on more than I can handle. You see, a common theme among the overly ambitious is that they tend to juggle many tasks and expect to do each of them equally as well, which doesn’t always work out. You may think you have it under control, but the reality is that something is being neglected and most of the time that something is you.
Let us run through some but definitely not all of the classic signs and symptoms of burnout:
- Having a harder time than usual peeling yourself out the bed in the morning?
- Uncharacteristically unfocused once you get there?
- Participating in the negative water cooler talk?
- Generally lacking in energy and fatigued?
- Overly emotional and anxious?
- Getting sick easily, or calling out more than normal?
- Lack of interest in the social activities that you normally enjoy even when you aren’t working?
If this sounds like you no worries! The hardest part is recognizing it. But once you do, small changes can make a huge difference.
Tip 1: Mental Health Days – Yes this is really a thing! At my job, there are peak times when things are a little busier or a little more hectic than usual. After those periods wind down, I’ll schedule a couple of days off to do absolutely nothing. Not calling out because I’m sick, not going on vacation, just a couple of days to sleep in, watch mindless TV, and run errands while everyone else is at work. I love them!
Tip 2: Reduce the number of hours you are working – Are you the type of person that arrives to work early, doesn’t take your breaks, and usually leaves late? If so, stop! Granted there are times when this will be needed but try not to make it your normal routine.
Tip 3: Request to work a special project – Sometimes it’s a matter of just switching things up a bit. Ask your supervisor to help out on a temporary project just to break up the monotony of your day to day tasks.
Tip 4: Jazz up your workspace – Take a moment and think about your coworkers and their work spaces. There’s the person who has pictures of family, friends, and dogs lining their desk. Then you have the co-worker whose desk is so clean you can’t tell anyone sits there at all. And finally, you have the co-worker whose desk is so cluttered you wonder how they get any work done at all. I encourage you to be more like coworker #1. Don’t bring your whole house lol! But definitely, bring a few things that brighten up your day and keep your mood light.
Tip 5: Meet up with a friend or family member for lunch. Not possible? Grab that coworker you actually get along with. You probably have a lot in common and you might even make a new work friend!
Tip 6: Find better ways to manage the inevitable stress – Exercise, eat healthier, mediate, get more sleep. These are all things that help alleviate stress. Our schedules are often chaotic, but make sure you are fitting caring for yourself into it as well.
Do you have any tips not mentioned here? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time,