How to stay sane and avoid burn-out in a fast-paced environment
The burn-out is real. It’s a state of complete mental exhaustion that slowly creeps up on you. Have you ever experienced any of the following?
1. Constant fatigue
2. Difficulty focusing on your tasks
3. Lack of ideas and creative energy
4. Lack of interest in something you used to be excited about
5. A desire to be left alone
If yes, then you might be burned out.
Granted, the tech industry is an insanely fast-paced and volatile environment where you are so often at the mercy of external factors — market changes, tech trends, customer behavior, company politics, etc.
However, there are still a lot of factors within your control that can shape your career and lifestyle.
Here are some things you can do to avoid burning yourself out.
#1 Set healthy boundaries from the get-go
If you are known as the person who always answers emails on the weekend and never says no to extra workload coming in at the last minute — don’t expect people to respect your personal time.
You are in charge of your work-life balance and it’s important to create a work schedule that you can keep up long-term from your very first days at the new job.
If you have somehow missed the chance to establish healthy boundaries at work, it’s never too late to change that! All you need to do is to communicate these changes to your team and explain how this is going to help you improve.
As of next week, I’d like to make a few changes to my schedule. I’ve been getting a lot of small tasks and requests from various team members lately. This takes away from my ability to focus on responding to client issues.
I’ve decided to limit myself to addressing team members’ requests for 1 hour a day from 11 am to 12 pm. I’ve marked this timeslot on my schedule. Please be mindful of this and know that I will get to your request in the course of 1–2 days. If you have any questions, feel free to DM me.
#2 Get small tasks out of the way
The general rule of thumb is this — if a task will take you less than 10 minutes to complete, do it right away! Don’t put it off until later — this will allow procrastination to snowball and the feeling of guilt and frustration to compound over time.
#3 Become best friends with your calendar
One thing you keep hearing from successful people (including creative types) is that they cannot live without a schedule or an established routine.
You see, when your day has no clear structure, and you just make it up as you go, this takes mental energy. The energy that you could be spending on being creative, solving problems, etc.
However, when you know that say from 1 pm to 3 pm you are supposed to be fixing bugs or analyzing feedback, this takes away the pressure of having to make that decision and weighing other options.
!!! Tip: schedule in not only large tasks but also small tasks that you might otherwise forget.
#4 Schedule recovery and discovery time
It’s important to recognize that you need to rest and your calendar has to reflect that. One of the main reasons why people fail to stick to their schedule is because they tend to forget they are human beings who require time to unplug, recharge, and get inspired.
Besides, if you schedule the time for rest, you will be able to manage your time much better and avoid accidentally sinking hours into something unproductive, such as mindlessly scrolling through social media.
#5 Try a task management framework
There are quite a few systems aimed at helping you manage your time better and achieve your goals. Try a few of them and see which one works best for you. Feel free to modify and combine them as you see fit. The goal here is to create a framework that will allow you to reach your best potential.
1. Pomodoro — a time management technique aimed at helping you improve productivity and combat procrastination.
2.Getting Things Done (GTD) — a task management system focused on helping you keep on top of your tasks, great or small.
3.Zen to Done — a technique that combines the ideas of GTD with a strategy for building sustainable long-term habits.
Rather than dealing with the devastating effects of burnout, how about preventing it altogether? How do you know that burnout might be coming? Ask yourself these questions:
1.Do I feel like I’m fairly compensated for the results of my work?
2.Do I feel like I communicate enough with my managers and colleagues? Is our communication productive and inspiring?
3.Do I get along with my colleagues?
4.Do I have things outside of work that bring me joy?
5.Do I have a career plan and clear milestones for professional growth that I’ve discussed with my managers or mentors?
Ideally, you should answer “yes” to all these questions. If that’s not the case, you have some issues to address. Think about what you can do to make a positive change (the solutions can range from learning a new skill to finding a new job to talking to your manager).
Most importantly, remember that there’s more to your life than just your job. It’s better for your mental health and your career overall to fit your career around the lifestyle that you want, rather than trying to build your lifestyle around your job.