July 25, 2008
How do you stave off burnout?
It's been fascinating to read all the different opinions readers have about blending work with leisure time vs. keeping weekends, evenings, and vacations work-free. Keep 'em coming.
Meantime, here's another tidbit to chew on: Last week, a new CareerBuilder.com survey found that 78 percent of U.S. workers say they're "burned out."
Why so fried? Forty-six percent of the 7,600 workers surveyed said their workload had increased in the past six months. Forty-five percent described their workload as "heavy" or "too heavy." And 23 percent said their balance was just plain out of whack.
Layoffs and other company cutbacks certainly don't help. But it's not just corporate belt tightening and bean counting that causes workers to fry themselves to a crisp. Sometimes it's our own dang fault. If your career is really skyrocketing and you truly enjoy the work you do, sometimes it's tough to pry yourself off the computer. Just ask any exec on the rise, any small business owner, or any freelancer and you'll see what I mean. (I know it's not just me.)
I have a birthday weekend coming up and promised myself -- and my beau, and my dog -- that this year, I would not squander it with work and mind-numbing errands. At first I thought I'd have to head out of town to do this. (Twisted, I know. But just because I write about balance doesn't mean I've mastered it.) Then, to avoid spending money I don't have, I decided to plan one of those silly staycations I keep reading about. No running errands, no paying bills, no cleaning the house -- just three days of straight leisure time right here in town, hitting the farmers markets, ambling through parks with the pooch, grilling dinner in the yard, taking in a couple movies or perhaps some live music outside. Oh yes, and I will completely unplug and ignore my inbox for at least 72 hours (she wrote with a bit of trepidation).
I'm sure those of you who already have this balance thing down are rolling your eyes and thinking (a) big whoop, and (b) really -- you need to plan to relax? But due to my aforementioned freelance life, I do. In fact, I'm freakishly excited about my three-day weekend off right here in my backyard. And I'm hoping it's the start of more mostly work-free weekends to come. (There's been a shortage of them in my life lately.)
I'm also eager to hear what readers do to force themselves to power down and step away from the computer for the hour, afternoon, or weekend in order to stave off burnout? Set your Outlook calendar for 1 p.m. to remind you to walk around the block every day? (I have a cubicle-bound pal who does this.) Take a "personal day" during the workweek once a month? Lock your laptop in a safe each Friday night and give the key to a friend for safekeeping until Monday morning? Do tell.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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