Recognising burnout – before you get burnt


I see it time and time again – business owners dealing with burnout.

What once made you joyously jump out of bed can leave you hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock, post-work related nightmare.

There are many reasons for burning out:

  • Burning the candle at both ends. Driven workaholics often find their ambition pushes them over the edge
  • You’re tired and bored. You’ve been a mouse on the same wheel for too long, and productivity is probably slipping along with your enthusiasm
  • You’re under-stimulated. Your current role offers few challenges and little recognition of your skills. You feel unmotivated, on a one-way trip to nowhere

Any bells ringing? Perhaps it’s time to figure out why you’re feeling this way in order to make effective choices and get your career on track. Your job accounts for roughly 40% of your waking life – generally it should be stimulating and enjoyable.

Signs you may be experiencing burnout:

  • You’re withdrawn at team meetings
  • You find it increasingly hard to get out of bed in the morning and are often late to work
  • You often feel bored and distracted, often paying more attention to the clock than the task at hand
  • You offer excuses instead of solutions
  • You feel your performance has slipped
  • You haven’t had a good day at work for some time
  • You find yourself regularly disagreeing with colleagues
  • Work stress is filtering into your personal life
  • You’re experiencing health issues

Ideas for minimising the effects of burnout

  1. Establish a morning ritual. Don’t start the day late, groggy or hungry. Enjoy time in a favoured spot (living room, local café etc). Feed your brain, breathe and ease into the day.
  2. Exercise regularly. It will increase blood flow to your brain, relieve stress and offer much needed time out from work.
  3. Expand your social horizon. As they say, get a life! Don’t be trapped by daily boredom. Bring back variety.
  4. Relinquish control. Enjoy your time outside the office; your business can probably survive without you.
  5. A holiday is a break from work. Turn on your Out of Office Assistant, record a detailed voicemail message, ignore your mobile, and if necessary, delegate responding duties.
  6. Get out and improve strategic brain flow! Partake in regular strategic brainstorming outside of the office.
  7. Don’t get hung up on what hasn’t been done. Focus on the current task and give it your undivided attention.
  8. Don’t take on other people’s issues. It’s great to support a colleague or employee in personal conflict but don’t let someone else’s baggage weigh you down.
  9. Learn to say no. Too much on your plate? Surrender! Analyse what is consuming your time and delegate.
  10. Invest in your personal development.   Grow your skills, both relevant to and independent of your current role. You never know when a new role could emerge.
  11. Carefully manage your calendar. Leave space for impromptu things and ‘share’ your schedule with others.
  12. Write a blog. Direct some of that pent-up creativity and vision online – it might even help your business!
  13. Become a volunteer. It might satisfy you to offer your skills to something outside of your own organisation.
  14. Get back to the drawing board. Review your job description and key tasks, what could you do better, more creatively? Just imagine it’s your first day on the job.

Burnout can take years to set in and finding the right solutions won’t happen overnight either. Learn to recognise your triggers, and the reasons behind why you’re feeling stressed by your working life. Then you can make direct choices to get back on track.

This has been posted by Jason Lougher. Jason is a chartered accountant who moved back to the Bay of Plenty – his favourite part of the world – to work with small and medium enterprises. Jason’s passion is taxation and effective tax structuring, trust set up and intergenerational planning, Inland Revenue audits and tax disputes, and business development. Jason works closely with the other directors to combine their skill sets to achieve the best outcome for clients. Additionally Jason is on the NZICA Bay of Plenty Local Leadership Team and is a Business Mentor with Business Mentors New Zealand.

Legacy Chartered Accountants has offices in Whakatane and Tauranga.