Balancing work and a personal life is hard. In a world of tight deadlines, it can seem impossible to make plans with friends and family or worry about your own mental health. Morten Hansen, author of GREAT AT WORK, shares ways to balance your life so you don’t burn out.
How Do You Prevent Burning Out?
The Mayo Clinic defines job burnout as 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.” Such job stress is quite common in the workplace. We asked the 2,000 self-respondents in our sample to rate their level of work-related burnout. Many experienced some level of mental and emotional exhaustion. About a fifth (19 percent) strongly or completely agreed that they felt burned out. Another quarter (25 percent) agreed somewhat, with the remaining 56 percent reporting little or no sense of burnout.
Burnout is serious. Research has tied it to ills such as cardiovascular disease, marital dissatisfaction, and depression. Fortunately, our study found that several practices lower the chances of burning out. “Do less, then obsess” can protect people from becoming exhausted at work because it leaves them with fewer priorities to handle and track. Likewise, if you take a more disciplined approach to collaboration, your partnerships enable you to accomplish more in less time, thus preventing exhaustion. Both of these practices prevent you from being physically and mentally exhausted at work.
There is another part of burnout—emotional exhaustion. As the Mayo Clinic’s definition suggests, burnout can stem from a sense that work is stressful, bristling with interpersonal friction, and lacking in meaning. The smart-work practices also regulated this emotional aspect of burnout. P-squared—matching passion and purpose—helps prevent emotional fatigue. People who experience passion and purpose go to work excited about what they do every day, perpetually reacquainting themselves with work’s deeper meaning. When my colleagues and I interviewed principal Greg Green and his staff in 2016, they still faced the same challenges of dealing with a disadvantaged student population that they had before “flipping” Clintondale High School. But whereas before their work enervated them, now it energized and inspired them, not least because it allowed them to devote more of their time to teaching students, rather than disciplining them and breaking up fights. For hours when we visited, Green and his staff talked with us about the flipped model, what new technologies they were excited to try, and most of all, how the flipped model was impacting the students. They felt deep passion and purpose.
They were still working hard, but they were accomplishing more and feeling less burned out.
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