Dealing with Burnout

June 22, 2018

It’s 10 minutes before your lunch break. You’re sat at your desk ‘working’, but you’re really just sat staring at the screen, waiting. Every new task fills your heart with dread, and you try to avoid talking to your coworkers or your boss in case they try to delegate a task to you. You haven’t been sleeping well, and you’re going to work without performing basic hygiene or getting breakfast because you don’t care or don’t think you have the time. Above all, you feel the work you do is pointless; just more drudgery to fill the day before you finally go home.

What seems like pure laziness from onlookers may be something else for the sufferer: namely, burnout.

What is Burnout (Or Boreout)?

‘Burnout’, or its younger sibling ‘Boreout’ is a modern term referring to the built-up exhaustion or boredom that comes with high-stress or low-stakes jobs respectively. People who burn out tend to be anxious about losing their job due to poor performance, while also losing the drive and motivation that allowed them to produce their work. Boreout, on the other hand, occurs not due to exhaustion but sheer boredom, usually a result of tiresome desk-monkey jobs like data entry. Similar to depression, burnout and boreout leads to feelings of hopelessness and a lack of control over one’s life, which can spiral into serious mental issues like self-destructive personality disorders.

However, neither condition is immediately obvious to workmates or superiors. People suffering from boreout in particular like to make themselves look busy without actually producing work. Whether this means secretly browsing sites of interest and switching to work when someone walks by, or taking frequent breaks just to get away from the pressure, people dealing with boreout have to worry about being caught and painted as lazy, which inevitably results in getting fired.

Alternatively, people suffering from burnout don’t need to pretend they’re swamped with work. Burnout comes when the volume of work constantly overtakes the worker’s capacity to complete it in a realistic timescale, and the deficit in free time that would reduce stress leads to exhaustion and anxiety building up like a poison. Slowly, they lose their capacity to work efficiently and begin to fall behind on the demands made of them. The fear of people noticing how dire their situation is is their main drive to produce work, rather than a healthy desire to exceed at their job.

The response from many companies refuses to acknowledge the actual burnout process. For boreout, the main cause is boring, thankless work that anybody could do, leading to low self-esteem and resentment which progresses into boreout. Instead of congratulating these employees on a good day’s work or some other positive reinforcement (e.g. setting targets for rewards, giving them a more varied workload), many companies obsessively monitor their employees to make sure they’re not being ‘lazy’.

What Can You Do to Stop Burnout?

If you want to make sure you’re not burning out yourself or your employees, make sure you (or they) are able to take holidays and encourage them to do so when they show signs of it. If the workplace feels like an open and friendly place, they may bring their concerns to you directly rather than you having to discern the issue yourself.

Other ways to avoid burnout and boreout is to have a ‘tech-free’ period, where using devices such as TVs, smartphones and computers isn’t allowed. It’s easy to find yourself reading more pessimistic news stories or internet drama on social media, which won’t do your mood any good, and instead go outside and exercise.

One of the main factors in developing burnout is an uneven work-life balance. People who regularly take work home with them usually can’t completely disconnect from their work life, which inevitably eats into free time. People looking for advice on maintaining a healthy work-life balance will find that here.

Burnout may not seem like a real problem to many but it can cripple your career in the long term, so taking a break or getting it fixed should be your highest priority. At Soft Intelligence, we are passionate about gathering customer feedback and soft intelligence from your employees, clients and customers, transforming it into straightforward and accurate data that turns the hassle of feedback processing into a breeze.

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