Flip the Switch on Burnout

We all experience sadness, exhaustion, irritability, or lack of focus on occasion. These are experiences that come with the human journey. However, sometimes these feelings hang around a little too long. And for the last two years, they seem to be ever-more prominent in all of us.

What you may be feeling is burnout, and while many of us want to treat the burnout with time off, what we are finding is “wherever you go, there you are.”

Time Off is Not It

Vacations are great. We need them. Too many people, especially Americans, don’t take enough of them. Vacations enrich our lives, give us new perspectives, and allow us to bond with loved ones. What vacations don’t usually do is change our life.

Feeling burnout doesn’t mean you need time off, it means it’s time to evaluate what you are doing with your time on. Are your activities aligned with your values and goals? Do you know that what you are doing matters? Are you making time for activities that you find fulfilling?

Burnout is Real

If you are feeling burnout, you are not alone. Indeed recently published a report that found employee burnout on the rise. 52% of all workers are feeling burned out. They also report that 61% of remote workers and 53% of on-site workers now find it more difficult to “unplug” from work during off-hours. And Gallup found that leaders are just as likely, if not more so, to suffer frequent or constant burnout as individual contributors. We can’t be surprised at the alarming rate of four million people leaving their jobs each month, can we?

We each have many demands on our lives, from the needs of our team members to the demands of our boss or client, along with the care for our family and the expectations from our society. It can feel like we have no control over how we spend our days, nights, weeks, and hours. But the time we’ve been given does belong to us. It is ours to control.

Flip the Switch

Carey Nieuhoff describes time in two categories: time off and time on. We all are familiar with time off, but what is time on? He defines it as “time that is set by obligations and responsibilities.” That’s fair. We talked about some of those obligations/responsibilities above, and this makes sense because time off is really our time away from those things. 

When we take that time off and it doesn’t do anything for this perpetual state of overwhelm and this burnout we are in, we blame that time off for not working or not being enough. But we don’t ever really look at the time ON and get curious about that.

What we need to do is begin looking at where our time is being spent. Here are some questions to begin asking yourself as you look at your time.

  • What are the most important things on my calendar?
  • What obligations or responsibilities have I taken on that are not mine?
  • What can be delegated to someone else?
  • What am I saying “yes” to that should be a “no”?

It can be easy to forget that we get a choice. We vote for what is important to us with our time. We need to look at the obligations, commitments, “have to’s” and responsibilities that we own and remember that we have a choice in how we spend our time, and well-spent time is rewarding time.