How to Avoid Burnout and Step Up Productivity
By Sandy Schroeder
Are you working too much and thinking about what to do next? Many people show up every day to meet job demands, but also pay a big price in stress.
Gallup polls say 40 percent of American workers are so stressed out that they feel like they are close to burnout. Harvard Business Review says “Today, the best paid workers are twice as likely to work long hours as the most poorly paid. According to a 2008 survey, 94 percent of professionals worked 50 hours or more a week, and almost half worked more than 65 hours a week.”
To help employees cope with burnout, companies often increase salaries, provide cafes, gyms and game areas, and supply mental health and meditation programs, such as Headspace, a digital mindfulness service.
What You Can Do
The next step is really what you can do to handle the workload and maintain your balance.
Matt Plummer, founder of Zarvana, a provider of coaching services for professionals, offers some suggestions.
Focus on a gauge like average weekly hours worked - Begin measuring it and set goals to reduce it. See if you can cut the number of hours worked by 10 to 15 percent while you maintain the same workload.
Look for more ways to measure productivity - It turns out most people do not know if they are being productive or not. Using gauges like number of hours worked is a way to find out what is happening.
Develop a work strategy for yourself - Set goals, create a plan to achieve them, and track progress on a weekly basis. When this works, you may feel more comfortable with the workload because you are taking charge of it, instead of letting it control you.
Pinpoint the biggest roadblock to productivity - As you start to look more closely at your work, you will probably see things that slow you down. Your schedule may be overloaded with meetings, or you may spend too much time responding to emails. Or you may weigh your mornings down with routine tasks, when you could be powering ahead with major projects.
Make one change at a time - Rethink your overall schedule to work on key projects first, as you move routine tasks to the end of the day. Or take a look at the amount of time spent in meetings to find ways to cut back. After making a key change, track your production to see how the new change affects it. Then consider what to change next.
As you come face-to-face with your work habits, measureable productivity, and overall work schedules, you may find you are producing more and working less hours. Give yourself credit for the change and keep right on going.
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