If you’re in a PA job in London, you have probably come across the concept of burnout. How many times have you quickly checked your work email before going to bed? Or decided to finish something off and ended up in the office at 9pm? When was the last time you left your desk for a full lunchtime or actively thought about the possibility of burnout?
With the line between working and leisure hours becoming fuzzier every day, separating the two concepts is becoming harder than ever. With 526,000 UK workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/2017, and 44% of those people attributing it to workload1, the risk of burnout only continues to increase.
So when your workload doesn’t seem to be changing and the stress continues to build, how can you make sure you don’t end up exhausted, alienated and not performing?
1. Establish boundaries and manage expectations
Once your late-night email habits become norm, others will expect this of you. Therefore, it’s time to rein it in, letting others know of your designated hours of availability. If you have a work phone, leave it in your bag and out of sight outside of those hours. If your personal phone also acts as your work phone, hide your emails app at the very back of your collection, so it’s not front and centre every time you open your screen. It’s also worth turning off notifications to remain in a state of blissful ignorance. Once others realise that you’re not available, they will look for alternative solutions – or simply wait until you are. If your managers are unhappy with this approach, it may be time to look elsewhere.
2. Focus on the disease, not the symptoms
Sleeping more because you’re tired and indulging in a ‘facemask Friday’ because you’ve had a stressful week is great, but they are short-term solutions to the larger problem. Why are you so tired? What’s made work so stressful? Take stock of your current situation and identify the areas of stress in your working life. Is it because of work overload? A lack of support? Once you’ve identified the root issues, look to solutions – do you need to have a chat with your line manager about managing priorities? Is it a case of organising a meeting with HR to talk about what support is available?
3. Prioritise self-care
Burning the candle at both ends is the quickest route to complete mental collapse. Ensure you’re taking care of yourself by scheduling in self-care slots into your week – and not budging on them. Whether it’s going to the gym, running or yoga, practicing mindfulness or even spending a few hours on the couch with a new series will ensure that you are prioritising your needs, reducing your stress levels and giving yourself a much-needed mental refresh. It’s important to factor self-care into your weekend too. The weekend is the perfect opportunity for rest, but you can often come away feeling even more exhausted than you did on Friday afternoon. Try having an early night on a Sunday and get plenty of sleep. Self-care can also mean paying attention to environmental factors like diet, exposure to nature and exercise – for example, is it time to cut down your coffee intake?
4. Focus on your personal life
While you may not necessarily want to increase your commitments, finding something you love outside work will go a long way in helping reduce the extra hours you’re at work. Engage the creative side of your brain by booking into language lessons, or learning a new skill – is now the time to brush up on your calligraphy, knitting or wood-making skills? Instead of heading to drinks with friends after work, why not suggest a walk around the park or going to an interesting talk? You’ll be able to kill two birds with one stone by reducing your alcohol intake, increasing your chances of getting a better sleep, while also doing something that’s physically or mentally stimulating.
5. Know when to ask for help
You may be drowning but if you don’t ask for help, how will anyone know? If you’re constantly exhausted, feeling alienated at work and feeling like you’re not performing at your best, then it’s time to seek help. There’s nothing wrong with scheduling a meeting with your boss or HR to discuss your workload and seeing if certain tasks can be delegated to other members of your team. In your personal life, consider outsourcing whatever you don’t have time to do – organise a food delivery box like Mindful Chef or Hello Fresh, find a cleaner or use a service like Airtasker or TaskRabbit to get those things you’ve been putting off done. With all of this off your plate, you’ll have time to focus on other, more important things.
6. Consider a new job
If all else fails, look for a new position. There may be a reason as to why you are not looking forward to a Monday. If there is a reason as to why you are so unhappy in your current role, do something about it. There is no point in prolonging your time in a role which you do not enjoy and no longer feel positive about. Get on to the recruitment ladder and see what else is out there, which would be more suitable for you, and for your needs.
If your role isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, or you’re needing to hire more support, Tiger can help with your next step. Get in touch!