I've decided to do a little series on job burnout. I had it- big time- and I think it would be helpful for people to know the symptoms so if you spot an employee with some of the characteristics of burnout, you can stop it in it's tracks by offering some helpful advice. I've read a couple of books that have some great insight for those future and current managers of people. One is called I Quit But I Forgot To Tell You which is all about burnout and the other is Make Every Second Count which has a little blurb about burnout. I think the "I Quit" book should be required reading for every manager new and old- she is spot on about cases where burnout has gone to the point of being irreversible. I think it's a little too late for me actually following her book- but maybe some of the insights catalouged below can help someone else. Instead of providing book reviews (read those on Amazon if you are interested), I figured I walk through some common symptoms of burnout and catalog my experience.
The feeling: I think the battery died. Have you ever been stuck in that waiting room where if asked after you left-- you would have sworn you were in there over an hour? I have been there. Trying to confirm my suspicions, the clock on my cell phone says I was really only held up for 10 minutes. If you have this happen on the job, you may be feeling some serious stress just watching the time go by. Try and find 20% of your time to do something you really enjoy. Learn a new software program, read a leadership or time management book, or work on longer term goals. If you find time still passing more closely you probably should take the responsibility and change your situation. There just has to be a better way.
Get in Gear: If you are really stuck in clock-watching mode, break up your day into smaller segments. Schedule some of your time to address new tasks that branch you out or will drive you to learn something new. You could be more involved in your companies volunteer opportunities, you could offer to coordinate the next student outreach program, or even write an article on your team's latest milestone achievement for your internal newsletter. Ask your management if there are any sideline tasks that you could help with on your downtime or if they can throw you work on the upcoming trade show. If you can't get your management to sign-on then look at internal training classes or even sign-on for lunch-time workouts to get you up and moving. The extra energy can then be pumped into some revived on the job creativity.