What can you do?
Most of us don’t have the luxury of quitting our jobs or dictating much of what we do when we are there. But we can control what we do when we are not. If you want to prevent burnout and cultivate equilibrium in your work life balance, try some of these things:
1. (Try to) Let go of control
Many times we work overtime and stress out over the things that we are desperately trying to control. Realize that you can’t control it all. You can do your best, you can work hard, but then let it go.
Worry comes from the desire for control, and worry ruins your off time. If you’re thinking about work as you go to sleep, on your weekends, or when you are with friends — you have a problem. A problem we all have, sure — but it’s still a problem that needs to be addressed and mitigated as much as possible. Realizing that the whole company/school/whatever doesn’t live or die based on how many emails you sent on the weekend is a good start.
2. No work email on your phone
Now, this doesn’t work for all professions, sure. But for me at least, a huge life changer was taking my work email off my phone. Whatever it is — if it’s after hours — it can wait. If it cant, someone will call you. Chill out.
And if you can’t help but check your emails outside of work hours, at least do all you can not to respond until work hours resume again. When you set the precedent of responding at all hours — people expect you to do it and will continue to contact you in this way. If you set the boundary that you are available during certain times -- and stick with it -- people won’t expect to hear from you outside of that time frame.
3. Friends outside of work (way outside)
This one is hard for me. Teachers tend to flock together. And I love them! I love spending time with my teacher friends BUT I need a larger circle. We all do. When you spend all your time with people in your field, your life narrows until work is literally your whole world. Which inevitably will lead to more stress and quicker burnout.
The life of a teacher is way different than the life of a doctor. Or a fundraiser. Or an entrepreneur. Or an artist. A dogwalker. It's all different. Hanging out with a lot of people reminds you that not only are you a normal person who is not defined by their job, but that every profession has it’s problems.
4. Get some hobbies!
This goes along with a wider circle of friends, but seriously — get a hobby. I always think it’s crazy when people just go to work and… not much else. When you don’t have passions outside of work that drive you, even a job you love will inevitably become something that you dread.
I wrote about the importance of a quest, and I believe it more than ever. If you don’t have something fully for yourself, you will artificially conflate your work with your purpose and value in a way that is not healthy.
5. Check in with yourself
Schedule check in’s. Are you happy in your work? How much of your time outside of work is spent thinking about work? Do you feel like you are making a difference? Is the time you’re spending giving you joy?
Sometimes in my class we do the beginning of the year activity "Making a pie chart of your summer". How much time did you spend sleeping? Eating? Swimming? Watching TV? We assign each hour in our day and create a pie chart to visually see how our time is spent. Even for kids it is shocking.
What does your pie chart look like? What area is lacking? How can you enlarge it? What part of the pie can you get rid of/shrink?