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Combatting Burnout

By George Waggott, founder, Roberto Fonseca-Velazquez, summer law student, George Waggott Law

As millions of workers have moved to remote or hybrid work in in recent years, the lines between work and home life have been blurred. In some cases, this might mean that a

worker can schedule a daily 10 am dog walk or a 2 pm power nap, or otherwise better balance their time in favour of home life. For others, this means that their work has become their whole life. For instance, sitting at a home office desk before having a cup of coffee or changing out of pajamas.

One related development is clear: the blurred lines of home and work life has led to an increase in burnout for many. Analytics company Visier published a 2021 report that found nearly 90% of workers surveyed said they have experienced burnout. So, what can workers do to combat burnout in the context of remote or hybrid work?

An important distinction to make is the difference between burnout and stress. HelpGuide has published guidance which offers a useful way to think about the difference – they define stress as “too much”, meaning too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and mentally. This contrasts to “burnout”, which means feeling empty and mentally exhausted, devoid of motivation and beyond caring. They can sometimes be related to each other, but they are distinct mental states.

A 2021 Wall Street Journal article says that one option is to simply care about your job less, with some employees realizing that not much happens when you do. One employee cited in the article encourages other employees to look at their calendar and daily tasks and “ask yourself: Is this really a thing that is part of my job? Do I really have to do it?”. This process allowed the employee to eliminate many business lunches from her calendar and free up her valuable time to do other important job-related tasks. Similarly, another employee cited in the article ensured non-negotiable life events were included in his weekly calendar including dropping his son off at nursery school.

Of course, this kind of flexibility will not always be possible depending on where you work. Some jobs, or some bosses, will demand more than others. So too will the ambitions and goals of some individuals and organizations. However, there is virtue in employees taking a hard look at what can be eliminated from the schedule – and the reality is there is almost always something that can be.

What some employees have found by eliminating tasks is that it allows employees to do

better work and to focus harder on the more important aspects of their jobs. The 2021 article referred to above advised as follows: “You might end up being better at your job. With less on your plate, and more perspective, every task will stop feeling like a fire drill and you can focus on what matters.”

Another option may be to seek out a professional to discuss your mental state such as a therapist or career coach.

Lastly, and importantly while working from home, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help with burnout. This includes making time for exercise and creating healthy eating habits. These

healthy lifestyle aspects are often the first to go when employees are on verge of burnout, even though most recognize that this should never be the case. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a proven way to impact your mood and energy levels which in return will allow you to have a better perspective when dealing with other things including work.

There are ways to combat burnout regardless of your work arrangement. The key is to find what method works for you as an individual and continue to revisit this method often.

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