We all face problems with “getting in a rut” that can lead to burnout. But just because you’re feeling this way doesn’t mean you have to make drastic changes. Here are 13 tips that will help you rise from the rut and feel renewed instead of burnt-out.
#1. Be Prepared for the 3-5 Year Cycle
The cycle of change is part of life. Nobody can expect to maintain enthusiasm for what they’re doing indefinitely. The urge to change things up eventually surfaces for all of us.
In work and professional life, be prepared for a sense of burnout to hit you every 3-5 years. You may have a job you really like, but after 5-years you’re likely to feel the itch for change.
Keep in mind that this sense of burnout comes as much (if not more) from psychological triggers than from actually being sick of what you’re doing. If you’ve had a good job for the last 5 years but feel you’re getting in a rut, don’t just quit. Instead, follow the other tips on this list to refresh yourself so you can stick with something that’s working well for you.
#2. Schedule Happiness
Another psychology trigger – that you can use to your advantage – is the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”.
A great way to keep burnout from impacting your work is to regularly schedule fun, interesting activities.
One of the keys here is to schedule these things so you have them to look forward to as you endure the “grind”.
Few people work at peak efficiency without breaks and enjoyable diversions. Schedule happy times into your week, and you’ll find you perform better when you’re working.
Sometimes the best way to improve performance is not to work harder at something. Instead, you do the opposite and walk away. Take an extended break. Then when you come back, you’ve improved.
JB describes this with his golf game, and this can be true of many activities where skill is developed through practice, like playing a musical instrument or writing.
Certainly, writers know that every once in a while you need to reset. Take a vacation. Travel someplace new. Reset your mindset.
You’ll come back refreshed and discover the break returned you to your place of peak performance.
#4. Challenge Yourself
Boredom can become burnout.
It’s usually not hard to recognize when stress is leading to burnout. There is a visceral sense that you can’t take much more.
But boredom can burn you out in ways that are harder to recover from than stress. If your work no longer provides any kind of challenge, it may be time to pivot.
Look for ways to expand on what you’re doing. Ask colleagues how you could up your game. Avoid being complacent; strive to always improve.
#5. Gain Perspective
Again, often the feeling of being in a rut is more of feeling than reality. Combat this by maintaining a sense of perspective.
Take pride in how much you’ve grown, and retrace the steps it took you to get there. Then look at where you’re headed, and plan for how you’ll tackle new challenges as they arise.
We often say that nothing is ever as bad – or as great – as it seems. Same goes for feeling burnt out. Find your balance and don’t lose sight of the big picture.
#6. Have Fun!
Sometimes we have to remind ourselves how to have fun at work. We have to refresh our perspective.
Why do people renew their wedding vows after years of marriage? Because they want to refresh their perspective and regain the energy they had when they first tied the knot.
You can do the same with your career. Make a mental shift and imagine you’re just getting started. Remind yourself how lucky you are to be in a job that provides you with a living.
Change your attitude and having fun becomes much easier. It’s all a mindset.
#7. Take Mini-Breaks
Running at full rev all day is a sure fire way to burn out.
Don’t underestimate the power of the mini-break. Clear your head with a walk, grab a cup of coffee, or take a breath and check the news.
Often at work, we think creating the perception that we’re always busy makes us look more professional. But pros who avoid burnout know that mini-breaks reset our thinking and let us perform at our peak for longer.
Don’t be afraid to take five. By the end of the day you’ll not only get more done, but the quality of your work will be better.
#8. Invest in Others
This is a powerful tip. If you’re feeling burnt out, think about how you can help train and support others at your organization.
Few things will re-energize you like teaching colleges and helping them grow. This may be a formal training, or it may just be opening yourself to questions as they come up.
You’ll not only avert burnout this way, you’ll gain the respect of the people you work with. Get this going and you’ll wake up Monday morning looking forward to the work week.
#9. Write it Down
If you’re struggling with your attitude and getting stuck in a rut, try this exercise.
Write down what you like about your job, co-workers, and customers. Make a list – it will be longer than you’d expect.
Writing things down re-enforces them in our minds. When you read your list you’ll be reminded of how lucky you are to have a job, making a living in the land of opportunity.
Trying to do everything at once without a sense of priority is burn-out city.
Most jobs require us to multi-task – but don’t overdo it. Sometimes you have to do what’s most important first, then move on without that task hanging over you.
Setting priorities and organizing your work will free you from a major source of stress that leads to burnout.
#11. Own Your Time
Frenzy is a major contributor to burnout. If you don’t own your time, it will own you.
Many of the tips we’ve outlined here require that you plan and organize ahead. Even a 5-minute coffee break works best when you take it at the right time.
And that long vacation? You have to plan ahead so you don’t end up working on the beach or walking into a hurricane when you return to work.
Owning your time means organizing it. Even short, fun respites are better when you know you shouldn’t be doing something else.
#12. Change It Up
The fact is if you never change anything up in your life, you’ll get bored and find yourself in the burnout rut. It’s inevitable. Human beings crave new experiences – it’s our nature.
So keep it fresh. Challenge yourself to eat better, sleep more, and use fitness to empower your energy.
Travel and see a new country. Take a risk and go somewhere exotic and different. This is a powerful experience that will jolt you out of burnout.
Buy a motorcycle. Or buy a bicycle if that’s your speed. Never tried Korean food? You should. Never played chess? Play. Never seen the Cubs play at Wrigley? Buy a ticket!
Don’t sit around and just expect your life to be exciting. It won’t be unless you take risks and try new things.
You don’t just land in the burnout rut. You slide into it over a long period of time when you lose the initiative and gumption to keep things interesting.
#13. Personal Development
Growth is diametrically opposed to burnout. If you’re growing as a person and professional, you won’t burnout.
Keep learning, taking on challenges, and being a better Samaritan. The internet is filled with lessons, advice, and wisdom. There are more self-help books out today than at any time in history. Research and take in the best of it.
We all feel burnout from time to time. Sometimes it feels like life is either hectic or boring with nothing in between.
But burnout is never terminal. You can do something about it.