Thursday, March 10, 2011

Burnout Series: Job Related Alzheimer's

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 forgot how to read- I've had that job where I've convinced myself I have early Alzheimer's. I've been staring at the same month-end report for an hour. Not only have I no memory of it's contents- I can't apply it to my daily tasks. It's called a complete lack of concentration. if you have leaked this ability over time on the job- my bet is you are distracted. If you job is completely unfulfilling, you may find most of your tasks a chore to accomplish and no matter the level of effort- you feel completely exhausted at the end of the day. If you are at the end of the motivation rope and have absolutely no desire to try and turn that around- you are suffering some serious burnout. Time to make a change either in your job or in the way you apply your time.

My Solution: Think Out of the Box: Sometimes the tasks are so routine or draining that your attempts at regaining  your concentration never reach first gear. You could try using external learning  opportunities as way to jump-start on the job progress. Check out the local university for open lectures you can attend to learn something new. Look into community college offerings in areas that offer you an opportunity to learn painting, photography, or cooking. Master a new woodworking skill or throw yourself into a home improvement project that you were going to hire out. Start an online genealogy project for a close relative. Sometimes it's the process of learning that brushes away the cobwebs and gets the brain sparking.

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