A Guide to Burnout: What It Is, and How to Overcome It

Professional Skills

You are not alone. Burnout is a common condition among professional business people. A Gallop survey found that 2.7 million workers in Germany reported symptoms of burnout. Another survey found 30% of UK-based HR directors felt their companies had widespread burnout. The effects are serious.

These tips from multiple blogs and high-performance people such as Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! CEO, can help you identify and may solve or reduce your burnout.

Symptoms of burnout include:

  • Trouble sleeping, frequent sickness, struggling to concentrate
  • Feeling alienated from your work mates and lacking engagement in your work
  • Failure to believe in your ability and decrease in productivity
  • Burnout affects your body. Research shows burnout causing a thinning of the brain’s frontal cortex (cognitive functions) and increased risk of coronary disease.

Some tips that can help are:

  • Fit time in your already crammed schedule for an activity in which you can lose yourself.
    Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, doesn’t believe in burnout. She says it is resentment from being forced to miss what is important to you. It could be playing tennis with your son on Saturday, painting, playing guitar, running, or even a work project you enjoy. You need a few hours each week where you are in an enjoyable FLOW (book of the same name). This TED talk on FLOW shows how FLOW may or may not occur at work, depending upon your purpose and contribution.
  • Speed up your existing schedule with a new activity you can look forward to.
    James Sudakow, author of “Picking the Low-Hanging Fruit”, says in Inc. that adding a new activity sped up his already full schedule, but gave him an activity, learning piano, that was something he looked forward to in the quiet of the evening. (This sounds like a corollary to Marisa Meyer’s insight for those who do not yet have a FLOW activity.)