Burnout is a real phenomenon that has affected the careers of thousands of designers over the years. One of the arresting aspects of it is that burnout can show up unannounced.
In other words, one day you’re fine and the next you’re wondering what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. Although burnout isn’t 100 percent preventable, you can reduce your susceptibility to it by making a few smart moves.
Four Proven Tips for Avoiding Burnout
Burnout sounds like a buzzword, but it’s also a medical term that features real symptoms and effects. As the Mayo Clinic defines it, “Job burnout is a special type of job stress — a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.”
It’s caused by such conditions as lack of control, unclear expectations, dysfunction in the workplace, lack of interest, little to no social support, and work-life imbalances. Here are four essential tips to help you avoid it.
- Get Out of the House
If you work from home, you need to get out of the house and interact with other people on a regular basis … preferably every day. This is a critically vital way to prevent you from feeling trapped.
“One of the things I liked least about working from home for a long period of time was the lack of human interaction,” says Ciaran Mahoney of Dialpad, a leader in business communications.
“Depending on your situation, you may be able to go into the office a couple days out of the week. But if that’s not possible, you’ll need to find a way to get in some face-time so you don’t go insane.”
- Don’t Overcommit
Overcommitting can often be at the root of job burnout. If you can learn how to pace yourself and schedule your projects and time in a way that suits you and your energy levels as well as productivity, you’ll be much better off.
For ambitious designers, turning down work can feel like a cardinal sin. But telling a client “no” can be an essential skill you should have. You don’t want to do it too often or you’ll ruin your reputation, but a well-timed refusal of extra work can protect you from a lot of unnecessary stress.
- Hire People to Handle Small Tasks
You might have heard of the 80-20 rule. Also known as The Pareto Principle, this maxim states that 20 percent of your time/work/effort produces 80 percent of the results/revenue/success.
If you can identify this breakdown in your workload, you can then spend your time focusing on the 20 percent and hire other people to take care of the time-consuming 80 percent.
“You might know a few other friends who freelance and would like the extra work, or maybe even a few friends who have full-time jobs but would be willing to earn a little extra cash,” digital media expert Megan Sullivan says. “While you may want to do everything on your own, don’t underestimate the value of sending up a flare and getting a little aid.”
- Pick Up a Hobby
It’s important for you to have activities to look forward to outside of work. Not only does this give you something to strive for and encourage you to work faster and more efficiently, but it also prevents you from spending every waking hour on your paid labor.
The best tactic is to pick up a hobby (or two). Find something that’s totally different from whatever you do during the day — preferably an activity that forces you to step away from the computer — and invest in it. You might be surprised by how much more engaged you feel when you return to work.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Burnout can happen to anyone, so it’s vital for you to do everything you can to put yourself in a position that empowers you to stay engaged and enthused. There will probably always be days when you don’t want to work, but you can ensure they are fewer and farther between if you create a system that works for you.