The past few weeks at work have been unusually full! My normal routine and workload was supplemented with dozens of extra tasks for a few out of the ordinary events that were taking place.
These events also required some evening meetings and gatherings, a few late nights at the office in order to get everything done and a few work-from-home nights in order to feel fully prepared for the next day.
All of these extra hours and late-night prep sessions meant there were some accommodations that needed to happen at home as well.
For one, meal prep and dinner time looked a little different during the past few weeks and tidying up around the house only took place if it was a complete necessity.
Luckily, The Farmer is still in the tail-end of his hibernating season (as he refers to it) before planting season beings so it was helpful that he was able to pick Little E up from daycare a few times and be home with her on the nights I needed to work late.
Although the past few weeks included a bit more chaos, everything that was happening at work was wonderful and exciting but it got to be quite overwhelming for this introverted, routine-loving working mom but I made it through with these tips for preventing and overcoming burnout.
8 Tips for Preventing and Overcoming Burnout at Work
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A bit of intentional planning can do wonders to help maintain your energy and organization when you know you have an extra-full work week on the horizon.
#1 Fuel & Hydrate
You know your body. You know what kind of food fuels your body and gives you energy and you know what kind of food causes you to crash. Maybe your vice is sugar or carbs or Doritos or pop (a.k.a. soda).
Do yourself a favor and keep a bottle of water with you everywhere you go. You’ll stay hydrated and be less likely to give into sugary drinks and snacks which will only drain your energy.
I carry a water bottle just about everywhere I go and I keep things interesting by adding any combination of sliced cucumber, blueberries, strawberries, lemon, lime and/or orange to my infusing water bottle. You can also get infuser pods that can be used with any water bottle. That extra flavor just helps wake you up and keeps things fun when you’re workin’ hard.
#2 Easy Meal Prep & Dinner Time
Give yourself some grace when it comes to meal prep and dinner time. Don’t feel obligated to have made-from-scratch dinners each night of the week when you’re already working overtime to keep things on track for work.
Embrace easy and no-cook meal options. They are your friend. Here are some of my go-to’s…
Baked chicken breast (use leftovers on salads the rest of the week)
Salads (keeps your energy up and a great way to use up veggies)
Easy Fried Rice (get the recipe – leftovers are great the next day – cook once, eat twice!)
Roast Beef (add to slow cooker in the morning and dinner is ready when you get home plus the leftovers are great to have on hand throughout a crazy work week)
Snack dinners (a selection of fruit, cheese, crackers, deli meat, veggies)
Scrambled eggs or omelettes (add some veggies to bulk it up)
Polish sausages, brats or hot dogs (kiddo approved and minimal cook time)
Spaghetti (super simple)
Tacos (another super simple dinner idea)
Wraps (tortillas, deli meat, cheese and veggies = no cook dinner idea)
Cereal (no shame here)
I also like prepping healthy snacks to have on hand at the office like hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, celery and peanut butter and my no-bake chocolate peanut butter energy bites. Being prepped with healthy snacks helps me make good choices throughout the day and prevents me from resorting to junk that will only drain my energy.
#3 Make a List
Being organized is key to reserving as much of your mental energy as you can. When there are numerous moving parts, various places to be or a certain order for when things need to be done, keeping a prioritized list of things that MUST be done will help keep you on track (and help you maintain your sanity).
I use a simple, two-column productivity planner EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. that helps me keep track of all things life-related – errands, bills to pay, tasks for passion projects, etc. This system keeps my personal life running smooth in the midst of chaotic work weeks.
At work, I use two big white boards to capture all of the things that MUST be done that week alone (one board) with all of the additional things that are rolling around in my mind (the second board).
For big work events and projects, I’ll often create a list on a piece of scratch paper that I can take with me if a lot of what I need to do takes place at other locations or involves doing several errands around town. You could also create this list in the notes section of your phone but there’s something quite satisfying about physically checking things off of a list that’s written out.
You know going into it that it’s going to be a crazy week so be sure your head is right.
The extra workload (hopefully) means there are good things happening! Look at all of the out of the ordinary activity as successes and celebrations of what you have going on at work rather than a negative burden and hardship on your normal routine or personal life.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you work to prevent burnout, it still creeps in. For me this is mostly due to my introverted nature. Sometimes my work can get really people-y which I love but I know myself enough to know that when I’m constantly surrounded by large crowds and in environments when I’m not only coordinating and executing an event, but conversing with people all day long, I know I will get burned out which means I know that I need to invest in time to overcome it.
#5 Give Yourself the Weekend
Other than cleaning up a home that’s been neglected due to the crazy work schedule – dirty dishes overflowing in the sink, crumb-covered carpet, heaping laundry baskets – I try not to schedule anything during the weekend if I can help it.
The weekend after a long work week becomes a time to simply be home with my family who I probably haven’t seen a whole lot of during the week other than early in the morning and late at night.
#6 Enjoy a Mindless Hobby
For me it’s Netflix binges or reading novels. It may be something different for you like knitting, working out or DIY projects. I just know that after a few weeks of work burnout, the last thing I’m able to do is tackle the next big thing on my list.
I knew if I tried blogging or diving into a new personal development or entrepreneurial-based book, I would only end up even more burned out from trying to expend more brain power on my days off.
Find a mindless hobby and give yourself permission to enjoy it.
Go to be early, take a nap or sleep in late. Or do all of the above if possible.
Sleeping in for me is usually around 7:30 am at the latest and on the weekend following a few crazy weeks at work, it’s great to not have to wake up to an alarm clock. I’m usually not much of a napper (it’s tough for me to fall asleep in the middle of the day) but I do enough lounging around to qualify as rest.
The hardest part about resting for me is giving myself permission to do so. My mind is constantly thinking about something I should or could be doing so I literally have to give myself permission to not do any of it in order to focus on rest.
#8 Use Your Paid Time Off
Did you know 52% of Americans still have unused vacation time at the end of the year? To the tune of 705 million unused vacation days!!!
If you’re employed, remember that you earned that time off so you might as well use it. And remember, using your vacation days doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go on vacation. I often use days off to blog and get caught up on things at home.
If you’re self-employed, look for gaps in your schedule that would allow you to take some time for yourself or leverage employees or outsource certain things to help you create time that would help you rejuvenate.
What are your tips for preventing and overcoming burnout? Share them in the comments section below!