by Elise Williams
We live in a society where we’re not only required to have a 9-5, but also expected to have at least one side hustle, as well as the perfect Instagram aesthetic for our personal brand. It’s easy to get caught up in the mindset that we have to hustle 24/7, and that gets exhausting real quick.
I’ve felt a bit of burnout myself recently. (Okay, a lot.) Between running a website, writing on the side, attending networking events, establishing my voice on social media, working on my relationship (because yes, that is WERK), keeping my cat alive, paying off credit card debt, and trying to squeeze in a few veggies into my diet, I’m mentally drained most days. When I feel the stress coming on, here’s what I do.
1. Make Time for Hobbies
This is the first and potentially most important step to beating work burnout. If you’re not doing something you love each day, what’s the point? And to those who love their job (because same), this doesn’t count. Yes, you wake up each morning with a purpose. Yes, you’re chasing your dreams. But it’s still work. And it can get stressful, no matter how much you looove it.
So unplug and open a book. Treat yourself to a bubble bath. Go for a jog. Play with your pet. Sign up for a yoga class or just find a YouTube video and take however long you need to unwind. Whatever destresses you, make the time for it. (I say “make the time” because if you’re waiting for extra time to magically appear, it won’t.)
2. Make a To-Do List
Nothing gives me more relief than sitting down and making a plan. If you’re stressed about what all you have to get done this week, create a to-do list and just write down everything (this is also known as a “brain dump”). Then, highlight the most important things and restructure your list based on priority. Assign each day a few tasks, and voila! You’ve got a game plan for the upcoming week.
3. Treat Yo Self
Accomplished a big task by noon? Go out to lunch with your favorite co-workers or a friend. Slayed in an important meeting? Pick up a bottle of wine after work and snuggle up with a good book. Even if you had a rough day — treat. Yo. Self. It’s important to recognize the wins and the losses. Which brings me to…
4. Keep a Work Journal
I just recently started doing this, and it’s helped me to see which parts of my day — which tasks, which projects, which interactions — make me feel good. And that’s what I need to be making the most time for. Basically, you keep a log each day. Some people choose to answer specific questions in their work journal, others just check in throughout their work day and take note of what they’re feeling. This also helps you to identify which parts of your day you’re most productive, when you’re in the best mood, etc.
I like to log my highs and lows of the day. For example, a high for me would be seeing one of my articles published and seeing the reaction on social media. Or watching a webinar and learning a new skill. A low would be confronting a difficult co-worker. In addition, keeping a work journal can help you to spot patterns and identify the areas where you need to improve. If the same thing is making you unhappy day after day, you either need to cut it from your work flow or get better at it.
5. Change Your Scenery
Instead of sitting down in a stuffy conference room for 30 minutes, take a walking meeting or have your meeting at a local coffee shop. If your employer allows it, you could even work remotely from a local coffee shop (or your home) for a while or just take a 15-minute walk around the block. Sometimes you don’t realize how anxious an open office makes you, or how annoying the sound of ping pong or nearby co-workers chatting can be while you’re trying to work. By getting some fresh air (or some fresh coffee) and just taking a break, you’ll feel much more refreshed when it’s time to come back to the office and get down to business.
6. Take a Vacation
It’s not a permanent solution, but a break every now and then definitely can’t hurt. If you can afford it, travel as much as you can. Unplug and jet to wherever. If you’re on a budget, you can literally just take a couple of days off and have a staycation. (This would be the perfect time to make time for those hobbies!)
7. Say No
If you’re still stressed, reevaluate your workload. I recently discovered that the majority of the things that stress me out at work are things I committed myself to without anyone asking. Really sit down and look at your responsibilities and ask yourself what the underlying stressor is. What could you possibly take off your plate? What could you delegate? If you’re in a position to make this decision yourself, do it. If not, ask your boss to meet with you and review your priorities. A boss wants their employees to work as efficiently and quickly as possible, so they’re going to do everything they can to help you.