Industry Market Trends
Overworked or Burned Out?
September 2, 2008
Does workweek dread begin for you early Sunday? Do visions of the upcoming weekend help you make it through Monday? These could be signs that you're overworked and overstressed or they could be signs of a bigger problem. For most people, some stress is normal. Typically, this passes after a busy period's slowdown. For others, though, the feeling doesn't disappear, even after a good vacation. If you can relate, then you might be burned out on your job. In a recent CareerBuilder.com survey, 78 percent of the 7,600 surveyed workers nationwide reported feeling burned-out at work. Overwork and burnout are not the same thing. Burnout may be a consequence of unrelenting stress, but it isn't the same as too much stress. The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as "a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long-term exposure to demanding work situations." "Stress from overworking, by and large, involves too much," according to nonprofit HelpGuide.org: "too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and psychologically. "Burnout, on the other hand, is about not enough," HelpGuide.org continues. "Being burned out means feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don't see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress is like drowning in responsibilities, burnout is being all dried up." Signs of burnout tend to be more mental than physical, according to HelpGuide.org. Stressed people can imagine that if they can just get everything under control, they'll feel better. More than half the time for burned-out workers, though, feel overwhelmed or completely bored, Joni Rose of Career Minded Consulting Services wrote at Suite101. Moreover, "those who are happy at work are usually able to manage extra hours to meet deadlines, without enormous resentment," according to Monster.com. "Those who're truly burnt out will find this hard to bear," i.e., a feeling of uncontrollability or powerlessness. Signs of burnout, broadly considered, may include the following:
- The quality of your work isn't what it used to be;
- Missing deadlines and tasks that need to be accomplished are left undone;
- Punctuality and absenteeism are becoming issues;
- Lunch breaks are becoming more frequent and longer;
- Your professional relationships don't matter anymore;
- Your contributions to group discussions and tasks are minimal or nonexistent;
- You're no longer goal-oriented; and
- Increased "self-medicating" with alcohol and drugs.
- Look for a new position within your organization;
- Identify a new responsibility/element in your current position that might refresh your focus;
- Assess the aspects of the job you like and do well, and concentrate on expanding them;
- Ensure you get meaningful feedback from your supervisor so you will have clear goals and accurate measurement;
- Stay informed of the latest issues and trends in your profession and find ways to incorporate these into your job; and
- Delegate or eliminate non-essential tasks to avoid losing sight of what you really need to be doing.
- Review your strengths and dig in your heels;
- Acquire new skills;
- Explore your options, set goals and make plans to develop yourself to fit your new career path;
- Consider opportunities to transfer to a new location, even to a new city, state or country, as completely new surroundings with different peers could get your professional juices flowing again; and
- Do something you enjoy consider making a career out of your hobby.