Whitney Danhauer

Spin Sucks Question: How Do You Avoid Work Burnout?

By: Whitney Danhauer | October 11, 2019 | 
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work burnoutA recent study from O.C. Tanner found almost 80% of people deal with at least some level of work burnout.

That’s an incredibly high number!

And work burnout isn’t just a term for when you get tired of doing your job and simply want a few days off.

No, work burnout has some serious side effects that can affect almost every aspect of your life.

Tell me if any of these sound familiar:

  • Poor performance
  • Reduced creativity
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • No energy
  • Trouble sleeping

The World Health Organization didn’t go so far as to call it a medical condition, but they did say it was an occupational phenomenon.

And since we’re heading into the most hectic time of the year, we thought this might be a good opportunity to chat about work burnout in our #SpinSucksQuestion.

So that’s what we asked:

With the busiest season upon us, how do you avoid burnout? Do you have any tips or tricks to stay balanced and on track?

I particularly love questions like this because we get to hear from some of the brightest minds in our community.

No Electronics Allowed

Would you say you’re an always-on personality?

As in, has your mobile phone become an extension of your body?

Many of us can relate to that.

So it wasn’t a surprise having a specific time to break away from the screen made the list.

Ashley Fisher:

My phone goes on do not disturb automatically at 8 pm, and I only check my emergency inbox twice before bed.

On weekends, I only use my phone while my youngest is napping (unless there is an emergency), and we have a no-phones-in-bed rule, as well.

It’s really helped me reclaim family time, and mentally I’m much healthier than I was before I started giving myself space from work.

Set Boundaries

Boundaries are necessary with any job, but it’s often a lot harder to commit to them when you work from home.

It’s easy to grab your laptop while watching TV with your family and say, “Oh I’ll just finish up a couple of little things with work right now.”

Katie Robbert:

Boundaries.

You have to set them, you have to keep them.

We could probably all work 24/7 and feel like we’re not getting ahead, but there are limits to how far you can push yourself and still be productive. Not everything is urgent.

I re-evaluate my to-do list at least once a week and reprioritize it, focusing only on the critical and time sensitive items.

I also make sure I carve out time for myself every morning to get to the gym and shut down my computer every night by a certain time (non-negotiable).

Ozan Toptas:

Here’s how I manage burnout:

  • Set boundaries: I have defined “office” and “home” times. Unless there is a fire, I don’t work outside of office time. I have automated DND modes for both my work and personal devices so I can protect the time I have with my family.
  • Daily walks: I try to go out for a walk around noon, just after my lunch, for around 20 minutes. It helps balance the blood sugar (added value) and clears my mind.
  • Occasional breaks: When I feel like I am on the brink of a burnout, I take a leave, for at least three days and if possible for five, and do nothing except read, write, walk around, meet with friends, have a coffee and so on.

I also learned a “trick” from a staff counselor some time ago: If I feel too stressed out, I sit down and take a “stress inventory”.

I list every single thing I am feeling queasy about and in the end I see how they contribute to an unrecognizable blob of stress.

Because little things can build up into huge things, like gremlins that have been fed after midnight. Then I try and do something about the stuff I (by myself) can address, reducing the amount that is contributing to the burnout.

Managing Expectations

Caitie Butler wrote about the topic of work burnout and offered up this tip:

One of the most stressful experiences at work is not knowing exactly what is expected of you.

This goes beyond establishing clear job descriptions and preventing “scope creep”.

Organizational values and norms are integral tools for helping employees understand expectations, from how to communicate or ask for help, to how to track time and when they’re expected to be available and responsive.

Establishing clear boundaries around workplace expectations may be the most important tool for keeping employees engaged and preventing burnout.

Make Exercise a Priority

Corinna vanGerwen:

I try to start my day off with a walk: drop the kid off at school, then go for a walk.

Short or long doesn’t matter. Sometimes I run an errand, sometimes there’s no destination … But I find starting the day with movement helps me focus and feel better the rest of the day.

If I go a few days without getting a morning walk, I definitely notice I’m more stressed and less motivated.

Tori Hebert:

I’m trying to get back on a workout routine.

I prefer afternoon to morning. So going to the rec center before heading home is a perfect way for me to “leave work at work.” 

I also try to find time to intentionally not work during the weekend.

As mentioned above it’s easy to work all the time. I feel guilty when I’m doing other things, but I think it’s important to have a life outside the office.

Work That Has Purpose

Micah McGuire also recently covered the topic of work burnout and this was one of her points:

With a grounded purpose for your work, you’ll be more motivated and able to move forward.

This is even when your motivation is flagging. Work turns into something you’re doing for a greater purpose, rather than just something you’re doing to get by.

Your Own Work Burnout Tips

Work burnout doesn’t discriminate.

And it’s hard to avoid.

What do you do to combat the potential of burnout? We’d love to hear your tips!

We share a #SpinSucksQuestion every week in our community.

And, if you’re not already a member, why don’t you join?

It’s completely free and you get to pal around with some of the brightest minds in the communications industry.

In the meantime, the comments belong to you.

About Whitney Danhauer


Whitney is living in Central Kentucky with her husband, Michael and her daughter, Evie Rose. She's an avid reader, an even more avid movie watcher, and loves nothing more than a well-placed pop culture reference. By day she writes about all things communications for Spin Sucks, by night she writes about whatever she wants. Her first novel, Good Riddance, was released in October of 2015.