Five Ways to Deal with Job Burnout

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job burnout, best jobs, job change, jobs, worst jobs, career, career change

The following is a post by MPFJ staff writer, Kevin Mercadante, who is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry.

Job burnout is something that affects most workers sooner or later.

It’s not that you necessarily need a new job – it’s just that there are times when you just feel like you’re stuck in a rut, or even question why you’re in that career at all. This can happen even if you ordinarily like your job and the work you’re doing.

Most often, job burnout isn’t a matter of coming to the end of your rope in your job or career. Like nearly every other facet of life, sometimes it just needs a recharge.

1. Take on new projects at work

Job burnout often comes from the “same old, same old” syndrome. As human beings, we all crave a certain amount of diversity in our activities. It may be that you just need a bit of a new direction in your job.

You can satisfy that need by taking on new projects at work. I’m not talking about “busy work” projects like cleaning out the file room or rearranging the office furniture. You have to take on a project that will make you feel challenged and valuable.

This might involve taking the lead on a new initiative in your department, or taking on a new responsibility that is parallel to your usual job functions. By doing this, you can feel greater control over your career, and that may be enough by itself to put an end to the burnout.

2. Take on new projects outside work

Sometimes, the reasons for job burnout are more related to what is happening in your life outside your job. The boredom or lack of satisfaction that you sense from your personal life may carry over to your professional life.

You can overcome that by taking on new projects and activities outside work. One of the big advantages here is that the activity can be just about anything.

Consider one or more of the following broad categories:

  • Something physical, like an exercise program or joining a gym
  • A creative project, like starting a vegetable garden or creating an e-book
  • Learning something new, like a new language or taking dancing lessons
  • A social activity, such as taking a cooking class or joining a civic organization
  • Volunteering, such as participating in a charity or church group, or helping in a disaster relief effort
  • A sport, like softball, a bowling league or a soccer club
  • Learning a new work skill, such as a computer software application or accounting skills to increase your sense of control over your career
  • Weekend travel, to close-in places that will give you a chance to refresh yourself when you are not at work

Activities such as these can give you a new sense of purpose in your life, and that will make you feel recharged. You’ll almost certainly bring that fresh attitude to your work, and that may put an end to the sense of job burnout.  

3. Try to offload some responsibilities

These days, what we think of as job burnout may actually have more to do with stress.

Many people are now doing the work of more than one person. Each time a coworker is laid off, their work is distributed to the remaining employees. Over time, you can begin feeling overworked and stressed. If it is possible, talk to your supervisor about letting go of some of your less important responsibilities. Perhaps they can be transferred to another coworker who isn’t as busy, or even gently suggest hiring a part-timer as an overflow person. Since this will be a touchy issue, you’re best to frame it in a positive way. You can do this by suggesting that your productivity on your most important functions will improve if two or three responsibilities were taken away from you.

4. Ask for a job re-assignment

Often, the reason for job burnout isn’t from you.

It could very well be a result of one or more coworkers, your boss, or even circumstances in your department. If on close reflection you believe this to be the case, it will be worth it to you to ask for a transfer to another department if that is an option. It’s often said that 51% of your success on a job is your relationship with your boss. If that relationship is not particularly cordial, finding a way out of the situation may be the only way that you will eliminate the burnout problem.

5. It may be time for a new job

Since this is the most radical solution, I’ve saved it for last.

In truth, since the job market is not as fluid as it once was, you are better off to exhaust all other possibilities before going this route. But the reality is that sometimes you are just over the job. It may have been an ideal situation way back when, but either the situation has changed, or you have changed!

Either way, it may be time to make a change. Some of this may be a matter of personality. Some people are perfectly content to spend their entire working lives on the same job, doing essentially the same work. Others – and I can say this because I’m in this group – need change from time to time. Job burnout may just be an internal sign that it’s time to move on. You can spend time in psychotherapy trying to figure out why this happens to you, but you’ll probably never get a solid answer. You may just be wired that way! I figured this out a while back, and when I accepted it and built it into my work life, things just started going better.

How about you all? Have you ever experienced job burnout? Or are you experiencing it now?

What are you doing (or what did you do) to deal with it? 

Share your experiences by commenting below!

***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/corneveaux/3248566797/sizes/s/in/photostream/

Comments

  1. stay-independent.com says:

    This is bang on.

    I think, for me, the most poignant idea is taking on projects outside of work. Sometimes, a job is just a job and you don't really have much of a choice in how the work is performed. But, like most people, I live for the things I do outside of work. Work is sometimes just a means to an end.

    For example, I come to work everyday so I can make enough money to write music (which makes me no money).

    Thanks for the post.

    • That is a completely honest assessment of your work life, and I thank you for it. Not everyone will self-actualize through their career, and you're better positioned in life if you are already aware of that instead of playing a game you're not wired for.
      My recent post 10 Reasons Why People Cannot Get Out of Debt

  2. Very good overview of tips to reduce the burnout effect. I agree that they will work. However, sometimes it is time for a change in life
    My recent post Unemployment Matters

    • Kevin Mercadante says:

      That's why #5 is on the list 😉
      My recent post 10 Reasons Why People Cannot Get Out of Debt

  3. Good ideas for handling job burnout. Here is one more…

    6. RETIRE EARLY

    OK, I realize that this isn't feasible for most people, but you can also figure out whether you can downshift to part-time work.
    My recent post New Feature – Asset Allocation Calculator

    • Actually, it's not a bad suggestion at all. Only problem is that it's hardly an immediate solution. If you're REALLY burned out, you may never live long enough to make that early retirement!
      My recent post 10 Reasons Why People Cannot Get Out of Debt

  4. I got completely burned out writing in my genre. It took a long time to overcome it and strike out in a new direction.
    My recent post Free Flowers: Transplanting Daffodils In The Green

    • Hi Jenny–A lot of time the only solution is change. If you keep soldiering on against your grain, you'll eventually crash and burn for lack of production and credibility.
      My recent post 10 Reasons Why People Cannot Get Out of Debt

  5. I'm so glad you included #3 – that, for me, was the biggest reason for burnout. Stress, causing me to work harder and longer to try to get a handle on it, causing me to loose relaxation, sleep and exercise time, which then future contributed to my stress!
    My recent post Allocate your Investments for Long Term Family Wealth

    • Regrettably it's an all too common situation I'm afraid. There's also a lot of risk in asking for help, since reducing to skeleton crew size is usually part of the grand plan.
      My recent post 10 Reasons Why People Cannot Get Out of Debt

  6. I generally try to take on different tasks. It is usually boredom that causes my burnout.
    My recent post The Dow at 15000 – Now What?

  7. Smart Money Junction says:

    I think offloading some of the responsibilities and taking some time off from work are good options.
    My recent post 15+ Ways to Create Multiple Streams of Income

  8. It is very difficult to deal with burnout, that is part of the reason I have decided to become a nurse. If I ever get bored or need a change of scenery, I can simply change to a different department, company, or location without much worry of being unemployed.
    My recent post Why Don’t We Get What We Pray For?

    • Hi Bobby–That's an excellent career choice for all the reasons you state. Since there are nursing jobs all over the country and in so many different settings it has a high degree of career mobility and flexibility. You can even do it part-time if you choose.
      My recent post The Connection Between Happiness and Being Frugal

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