Workplace burnout is now recognized by the World Health Organization as an official medical diagnosis. It's hardly surprising, given that nearly a million people skip work due to professional stress every single day. 

It's close to impossible to reverse the damage done by burnout. Decreased job satisfaction, lowered productivity and an overall decrease in happiness are some of the most common results of burnout -- all of which can stick around over the long haul. 

In order to avoid its worst effects, do everything you can to steer clear of burnout before it hits. While it's not always easy to see it coming, here are a few things you can do to guard against burnout ahead of time.

1. Track your time.

Far too often, workers fail to realize the value of their time. It's impossible to sustain long-term happiness without appropriately balancing your professional time with your personal time. Avoiding burnout means using that time wisely, both now and in the future.

Use a digital calendar or scheduling tool to keep close tabs on how you're spending your time. Take an assessment of your week: How much time are you spending in the office? How much work do you do at home? How much time do you have fully to yourself? If any of those numbers look out of whack, that's a sign that something needs to change. 

2. Separate home and office.

One of the most common ways burnout occurs is through work creep. When professional responsibilities start to creep into your out-of-office life -- whether it's in the evening, over the weekends or on vacation -- that's a sign that burnout is coming soon. People who work at home are most susceptible -- the dividing line between work and family time is merely a closed door.

One way of avoiding creep is by disconnecting. If your phone and laptop are always on and at the ready while you're at home, then you've never really left the office at all. Make an effort to fully unplug from the job when you're on your own time, and you'll notice a shift in how much you get from your time at home. Also, focusing your attention on different aspects of your life will help you feel more invigorated and creative when it's time to work again.

3. Take a vacation.

The majority of Americans don't use all of their vacation days -- and they're paying the price for it. Time off work can provide a big boost to your productivity, creativity and overall job satisfaction. Working through your vacation days might feel like the right thing to do for your career, but it only increases the likelihood of burnout in the long run.

Take a vacation that will be good for your overall mental health -- not one that requires excessive planning, numerous flight transfers or a big chunk of your bank account. Go somewhere relaxing and new. Even if it's just to a nearby destination, a change of scenery can go a long way toward helping you gain perspective on where you're at in life.

4. Try working remotely.

On the same note, you can get a change of scenery without fully leaving work behind. While it's important to completely disconnect during vacation time, working remotely can give your work the breath of fresh air it needs without fear of falling behind. 

Remote work has other benefits as well, such as increased productivity and a boost in company culture. Taking a step back from the office allows you to work at your own pace and dictate your own style -- and that can make a big difference in your overall satisfaction. 

In order to make the most of your career, you need to be prepared to make your approach work long term. Burnout cuts things short; use these tips to make sure that doesn't happen.

Published on: Oct 13, 2019
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