How To Work Hard Without Burning Out
by DARIUS FOROUX
Do you ever feel that the demands of your job are too much? If so, that’s not a surprise. Modern-day life demands much of us as human beings.
That has been the case for decades. And often, those high demands result in burnout. Researchers have studied the phenomenon of burnout from the 70s. The results? It’s not good.
Research shows that high levels of burnout is associated with the following issues:
- Sleep disturbance.
- Memory impairment.
- Neck pain.
And there’s more. Burnout increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
And there’s even more. But I think you get the point.
So it’s safe to say that working hard has a price. Personally, I’m very well aware of these risks. I’ve experienced stress because of high job demands in the past.
It doesn’t matter whether your manager has high demands, or whether you have high demands of yourself.
Both result in the same thing: You can’t deal with the daily demands, and that’s what will exhaust you.
How do you prevent that? Unfortunately, that answer is not straightforward. Scientific research only investigates cause and effect.
We know that high job demands increase the risk of burnout. But how can you keep up with the high demands of modern day work, and not burnout?
I’ve found that there’s not a single answer to that question. No one can say: Do XYZ and you will never burnout.
It’s much better to know yourself, know your job, and understand one thing: Hard work is great, but not at all cost.
I can’t give you a blueprint. But what I can do is to share with you how I personally prevent burning out.
Over the last 1,5 years, I’ve been working 6 or 7 days a week. And in that period, I just went on one 10-day holiday. I also don’t feel like I need a holiday — a feeling that I had every six months in the past.
I’ve worked hard. Almost every day. But I’ve also managed to stay sane (most of the time). Here’s how I did it.
1. Love What You Do
Let’s get the cliché out of the way first. Work is a lot easier when you enjoy it. We all know what. But did you know that you can also learn to enjoy your current job?
You have two choices:
- Complain and say that you hate your crappy job.
- Make the best of it.
Sometimes we forget that we always have the ability to decide. If you hate your job, that’s your decision. Marcus Aurelius put it best:
“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
But you can also choose to get better at what you do. And if that’s not possible, see it as a temporary place.
We’ve all had jobs that we didn’t like. Just deal with it and find something else. But in the meantime, you better enjoy what you do. If you search hard enough, you can always see the bright side of everything.
2. Don’t Overestimate Yourself
Some of us think we can handle everything that comes on our way.
- “Do you want to take on this project?”
- “I think you should go for this promotion.”
- “Do you want to speak at our event?”
Yes, Yes, YES!
But here’s the thing: You’re not superman or superwoman.
Sometimes it’s time to say: No, no, NO.
3. Ask For Help
Hello there, you proud person, who never asks for help!
“I can do it on my own,” is probably your mantra.
Sure, you’re awesome and all. But no one can do it on their own. You need help. You need a support system. Don’t even think you can do it by yourself.
Reach out to colleges, friends, managers, family, or any person you know. People will understand. And if they don’t, they are not your friends.
4. Don’t Feel Guilty
Do you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders? Do you feel like you’re responsible for your family, friends, employees, or other people? It’s time to lighten up.
First of all, people can take care of themselves — they don’t need you to be their hero. And second, what kind of leader, friend, spouse, are you if you burnout? Exactly.
5. What’s The Point?
Sometimes we do shit that doesn’t make any sense at all. So ask yourself that question. No good answer? Don’t do it.
I’m all about practicality. What does that mean? Here’s the definition:
“Mindful of the results, usefulness, advantages or disadvantages, etc., of action or procedure.”
Result is the only thing that matters.
6. You Can’t Have It All
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t have everything I want. I can’t spend time with friends, family, work hard, go to the gym, travel, at the same time. Realistically, I have to pick one or two things to focus on.
Life is about making decisions. If you want to do things well, with all your attention, you have to make some sacrifices.
You only have limited time. You can’t buy more of it. So you have to spend it wisely. How will you spend it? Decide and stick with it. FOMO is for the delusional.
7. Exercise Every Day
Daily exercise reduces stress, anxiety, and improves your focus. “I know it.” Well, why don’t you do it then?
Since I’ve been running every day, I’ve gotten a lot better with dealing with stress. Daily exercise is a must. It’s simple: Just do it every day. No excuses.
Honestly, it’s okay to do nothing sometimes. It’s only life. Who cares? It’s easy to take everything way too seriously.
- “I need to make more money.”
- “I need to get this promotion.”
- “I need to buy a new car.”
Also, do you get annoyed by everything? That’s not a good sign. In that case, you definitely should relax.
And realize that everyone is facing the same challenges. Life is not easy, you know. So don’t make it even harder by being such a serious person.
There you go. That’s my recipe for working hard and enjoying myself. I always remember that everything in life is only temporary. And if I don’t like my life, I change it.
What do I have to lose? Money? Reputation? Fuck that. I don’t need it. You can always start over. What was that again? The journey is the reward? Yes.
Originally posted on dariusforoux.com.
Thanks For Reading
Hi, I’m DARIUS FOROUX, I research how to (1) overcome procrastination, (2) improve productivity, and (3) get things done.
I teach how to do those 3 things in my online class ‘Procrastinate Zero.’
And every Monday and Thursday I publish an article related to those 3 topics at DariusForoux.com.