No matter whether you are doing your dream job, or studying your favourite course, it is highly likely that at some point there will come a time when you are overworked, stressed, and ready to throw the towel in.
Often, during these times, we're so focused on getting the job done that we don't realise how close we are to burning out until we actually do! But there are ways to avoid getting to this point, and we’re going to tell you how.
We all know what it feels like to have a pile of work hanging over your head, and not enough time to get it done. Ever heard of the phrase ‘Skipping university to catch up on university you missed because you’ve skip too much university’? Well we have, and unless you’re Rainman and can do the impossible, you’re in for a downward spiral.
Overworking yourself can quickly lead from slight stress to a serious mental - or even physical - breakdown. In order to avoid this, you need to first define what and where the issue is.
Causes of burning out
Whether you are working yourself to the bone because of a strict boss throwing assignments at you left right and center, or because you feel pressured to do everything to perfection, we can assure you that the quality of your work will never be as good as it would if you were in a right state of mind.
There are a number of warning signs of burning out, before you actually do. Often, we are blind to these signs, but it is important you start realising that this is a way of your body telling you to put the brakes on!
Some burning out signals to be aware of include:
- Constantly feeling tired, fatigue, and demotivated
- Losing interest in your work
- Feeling undermined, unappreciated, and unrecognised
- Lack of sleep
- High levels of stress and anxiety
- Experiencing low energy and exhaustion
- Feeling irritated and angry at work, at colleagues, at yourself
- Dreading being at work, and wanting to leave as soon as you get there
- Physical illness - headaches, back pains etc.
If you find yourself experiencing one or more of these symptoms, then you might need to make a few changes in your daily routine, to avoid burning out.
Keep in mind that there are many ways for you to get the job done, without pushing yourself to breaking point. Here’s how:
1. Prioritise and plan your day
Each day, you should make a schedule of what tasks you need to get done, and when. In this schedule, you also need to prioritise time for breaks. By following a daily plan, you allow yourself to mentally prepare for each day in advance. This way, you will also be able to “switch off” at the end of each day, knowing you are done for the day and will deal with your next task the following day.
Scheduling breaks should be taken just as seriously as scheduling a meeting. It is important you give yourself some free time during the day, even if it’s just for 20-30 minutes. Do not skip your break time - just like you wouldn’t skip a meeting. Taking breaks allow you to recharge, helping you feel ready to get back to work.
2. Delegate your tasks
Delegating some of your work to your colleagues does not mean you are being lazy, it means you are allowing yourself to cut out tasks that are not as essential. You can focus on identifying and prioritising your more important responsibilities.
Sometimes we need to choose between taking on everything, and taking on only those things that we really need to. By doing many things at once, the quality of those things will often fall. By focussing on fewer - more important - tasks, we are likely to produce higher quality of these tasks.
3. Exercise regularly
Believe it or not, exercise is one of the best stress relievers. Not only is exercise good for your health, but it also helps you to feel more energised.
Set aside time to exercise around 3-4 times each week. Try joining a class, that way you will be more motivated to get up and exercise if you have made a commitment. You can also try getting a colleague or friend to join you, that way you can motivate each other and it becomes more of a fun activity together.
4. Change your work environment
Sometimes, something as simple as moving from your desk can help ease your state of mind, and relieve you of stress. For both your health and your focus, it is a good idea to stand up from your desk every hour or so, get some fresh air, move around a little bit, and even change desks for a short time.
As a freelancer, you have more freedom to work from wherever you like. Use this opportunity to not be stuck behind a computer for hours on end. Instead, try changing your location each time you finish a task or assignment. Whether this means simply changing to a different desk, or going to a new café, just make sure to move to another spot to change your work environment.
This gives you a refreshed mind, and helps you to look at things slightly differently, maybe even giving you new ideas, thoughts, and solutions!
5. Remember to socialise!
Once you leave the office, you shouldn't be worrying about work anymore. Find the time to meet your friends and family - and be social! This will take your mind off work, and distract yourself with a little fun.
Taking part of social activities helps you get rid of the feeling that each day consists of the exact same thing - wake up, go to work, come home, sleep, and repeat. Don’t get stuck in this cycle!
We’re not saying you need to surround yourself with people everyday, but try find the time to see your friends at least a week for a fun activity - it could be going to the movies, cooking dinner together, or even just going for a long walk.
It’s important you give yourself something to look forward to - no matter how small it might be.
6. Communication, communication, communication
If you want to avoid burning out at work, you're going to have to swallow your pride and let people know what you’re going through!
For all you know, letting someone know the struggles you are experiencing might just be the solution for you. If you are feeling overworked, you should tell your boss. If you are stressed about deadlines, you should communicate to your colleagues and ask for help. If you are having issues with management operations, they won't know unless you speak up about it.
Communication does not only mean talking to your boss. Depending on your situation, you might find talking to a therapist or psychologist can be a huge help to not only stop you from burning out, but also help you find ways to move forward from here.
7. Take a vacation - you deserve it
It might be time for you to just take even a single day off, to just relax and do nothing. Taking a vacation can help you ease your mind from everything that has been stressing you out - but in order to fully do this you need to promise yourself that you will not work during this vacation time at all.
Ask someone else to handle your tasks, or inform your customers that you will be out of office for a number of days. This way you won’t be subconsciously worrying about all the work you are missing out on.
8. Take control
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being busy. But being busy and overworking yourself is not the same thing - and its important that you see the fine line between the two.
Our views of success and happiness can so easily get bent to cause more stress than happiness in us. If working everyday towards what you believe is ‘success’ fills you with absolute stress and anxiety, then there is nothing successful about it at all.
If your work starts putting your health in jeopardy, you should reconsider whether this is really the way you want to be spending your life. Do not let burning out become your reality. Take time to put yourself, and your health first, and happiness will follow.
Find the support system that you need and use them - because they are there.
What does this mean to us?
At Debitoor, we have a healthy office space, flexible working hours, and fun social events. These are all factors that help our employees feel as comfortable as possible, and create a stress-less, yet motivating and stimulating environment to reflect our culture.
We have worked hard to build an inspiring working environment to achieve our goals - one of which is to make customers happy.
As a business, we do what we can to help people like you, and your business. As accounting and invoicing software, our goal everyday is to help make people's lives as easy as possible by offering assistance to the runnings of small businesses.