“It’s lonely at the top” is a common expression regarding the highest level professionals and is unfortunately all too accurate. The pressure and demands as one moves up the career ladder, combined with not feeling like it’s appropriate to convey anything but the utmost confidence, can result in chronic stress that compounds over time. The result: burnout, or complete physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Avoid burnout in executive roles with these tips:
Setting hard limits between work time and personal time is absolutely crucial to prevent burnout. With smartphones especially, it is all too easy to just quickly check email, and the next thing you know, you’re worrying about work instead of decompressing. Decide what hours are off-limits, and stick to it (i.e., “No checking emails between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.) This also applies to time off – working during your vacation defeats the purpose and doesn’t allow you to recharge. If you can’t go totally off the grid, give yourself a very limited time frame to be accessible and maintain those boundaries.
Find Optimal Efficiency Methods
Ensure you are not making yourself work any harder than necessary. There are countless books, podcasts, blogs, and articles touting the key to ultimate productivity; however, the best method is the one that aligns with your own personal tendencies. Do some self-reflection and take note of when you are at your peak of concentration, how long you can sustain it, what tends to distract you, when you normally hit a slump, what tasks take you the longest that could potentially be delegated, etc. Try out different methods until you find what works best for you, then arrange your daily To-Do list around your own tendencies to achieve optimal efficiency.
Prioritize Stress Reduction
Burnout is generally the result of unchecked stress building up over time, so it is crucial to tackle the skill of getting stress under control on a regular basis. Prioritize stress reduction into your daily routine by, first and foremost, properly fueling your body and mind with adequate rest, nutrition, and exercise. Also, schedule daily activities that make you feel relaxed. It can be tempting to forgo leisure activities for the sake of tackling your workload, but you’ll be in a better state of mind to work more effectively if you incorporate things you enjoy into your day-to-day.
Check-in Regularly for Signs
Being aware of the warning signs of burnout can help you take steps to alleviate it before it becomes a major issue. Be intentional about checking in regularly with yourself for risk factors for burnout. Common warning signs include constant fatigue, moodiness, getting sick more often, difficulty focusing, and an overall feeling of being “checked out” and not caring. Once you realize you may be at risk of burnout, examine the contributing factors and develop possible solutions.
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