Burn Out1/12/2021 Randall C Cole
I am always humbled and honored when people want to know my thoughts. Sometimes I get questions from young managers starting in the Information Technology field. Over the weekend I received a list of questions and I thought I would share #3. I want to know, what anti-burnout tips you have?
3) This would be more of a personal question but one where experience could make an answer particularly good – how have you stayed effective over the long term? Do you actively manage “burnout”, or do you just power through? Do you have strategies for work-life balance that have kept you moving forward in your career while maintaining interests outside of work?
To start, this is just my opinion and what works for me. There I have no scientific facts to back up what I do.
I will begin with Work-Life Balance. If you are doing what you should be doing this is not an issue. I do not leave my house without my laptop. I do not go to the bathroom without my phone. On vacation, I often take dual monitors and set up a PC in the hotel room. I do not “unplug.” With that said, I do not have a work-life balance problem. I love my team and my job. Sure some parts of my job are not perfect, but nothing in this world is. Enjoy what you do.
Managing burnout is a big question and will take a lengthy explanation. I have seen a lot of executives over the years suffer stunning career burnouts. Yes, I actively manage burnout. I do two things to avoid burnout, manage negative work issues, and continuous self-improvement.
I believe burnout is not caused by your job at all. It is the issues that come with your job, like; feeling trapped, toxic people, skeletons, and a lack of direction. These items create anxiety, and anxiety is like slowly increasing background noise that you get used to, but it is always there making everything harder. When background noise suddenly stops, you realize how much better everything is.
Avoid feeling trapped in your job. You do this by not overspending, have a sound financial plan and a strong resume. When you feel stuck in your job, you will make bad decisions influenced by self-preservation. You want to make choices that are good for the company over what is right for you. In the long term, if it is good for the company, it will be good for you.
At some point, you may work with awful people. They will add to your burnout chances. If they think you are a threat and they cannot control you, they may spread lies about you, throw monkey wrenches to try to slow you down, even withhold information you need to be successful. Never retaliate and follow the “Do the right thing” rule. I think it takes a lot of effort for these people to be toxic, but you can do the right thing forever without using extra energy. Keep your plans focused on only items that move the company forward.
Lies and shadiness can be soul crushing. Your job should be a “is what it is” situation. If you have a problem and you can’t tell your boss, you are on a fast burn out path. The burden of hiding things is an awful thing. Your boss will have an unrealistic expectation of how things work. Your boss can only make the right decisions if your boss has useful information. It is far better to self-disclose a problem and get help than sweep things under the rug and have that anxiety.
Know where you are going. Burnout can happen when you feel lost. Have a goal, a plan, and know your principles. Match your goals to every personal decision you make. Use this as your compass, and you will never feel lost.
Even if you avoid all the above issues, burnout may still set in. Self-improvement can help here. Never stop learning, building new skills, and meeting people. I do at least one new certification a year. Nothing can pump new life into your job like new knowledge/skills. I am currently working through a business analytics / Machine Learning course and Harvard’s CS50 class in my spare time. I take what I find fun, but I always seem to find something useful I can bring back to my guys at work. Any learning is good, even if it is not work-related.
Thanks for asking. I hope this helps you.