You’ve likely heard the saying that you can’t pour from an empty cup, which essentially means that if you’re burned out, then you won’t be able to give your work and family your best. Unfortunately, burnout is rampant in both the corporate world and in entrepreneurial life. But, it’s all too often that we don’t notice the signs of burnout until it’s far too late. We end up crying on the bathroom floor wondering if and when we’re ever going to get a chance to just rest.
So how do we side step past the bathroom break down? We learn to identify the early warning signs of burnout.
Burnout can be a frequent occurrence for you and many of your colleagues. Heavy workloads, looming deadlines, and unexpected roadblocks will have you white-knuckling it through many weeks. You may tell yourself that you can relax after you get past this milestone or hit this metric. Inevitably, new delays or new projects get piled on and you just take a breath, and keep going. But as we all know, this isn’t sustainable.
After weeks or months like this you eventually reach a point where you get so frustrated with everything, and you want to quit your job. Meanwhile, you’ve been reassuring yourself that it will go back to normal soon. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t need to wait until we’re burned out to the point of wanting to quit before we do something.
Ways to Spot The Early Warning Signs of Burnout
So here are a few ways to spot burnout as it’s approaching.
- You’re getting short or snappy with loved ones and friends. The people in your support system aren’t causing your burnout but when things get crazy at the office, we often (unfortunately) take it out on those closest to us. The minute we notice that we’re less patient than we usually are, it’s likely that the stress is starting to take its toll.
- You start skipping the rituals that make your day whole and balanced. For example, you might skip your meditation in the morning because you need to hop on to an early morning Zoom. Or you skip your evening workout because a meeting ran late again. At that point in the day, you just don’t have the energy to move. Or perhaps you’ve stopped joining your friends for your regular Zoom happy hour or FaceTime call. These rituals, although seemingly inconsequential, are actually really important to maintaining a feeling of balance. Once they start to slip, it’s a sign that you are creeping towards burnout.
- The quality of your work begins to suffer. In the technology industry, you could almost predict the increase in the number of software bugs as engineering workloads started to increase. When engineers get overwhelmed with work, quality is often sacrificed for speed. This will usually results in a subpar product. The same goes for the people leading those teams as well as people in other industries. As workload and stress increases, you start to miss potential risks, you don’t notice budget overruns, or you miss signals from the market. If your small mistakes and oversights start to become more frequent, you’re probably on the verge of burnout.
When that burnout strikes, it can feel all encompassing. It can affect your sleep, your diet, your exercise, your relationships – basically all of the things that contribute to your wellness. It’s almost like you’ve been digging a really deep hole and then one day you look up and realize you didn’t drop a rope down to climb out.
Being aware of early warning signs is like paying attention to the canary in the coal mine. The canary doesn’t do you any good if you aren’t keeping eye on it.
Need more burnout prevention guidance? Considering the benefits of executive coaching by the NU Company.