Set Better Limits In The Work To Prevent Work Burnout

I leaped at the chance to move to a certain place and live and work for three to four months one summer. Nobody knew who I was, so I could concentrate on my work with minimum distractions. I soon found myself working all hours of the day and night.

I lacked a strong social foundation (and familial oversight).

Why not put in a week’s worth of effort? I pondered. That’s exactly what I did.

I wasn’t getting more done or executing my existing work more effectively while putting in additional hours. Life was a jumble of tasks that grew to occupy the time. What exactly did I accomplish today? I was perplexed.

According to a Stanford University study, productivity diminishes dramatically after 55 hours—and I was working far more than that.

Related: Commonly Asked 3 Financial Questions (and How to Work Through Them)

I’m sure I’m not the only one going through this. The hustling culture pervades our society.

We admire individuals who “rise and grind” — those who work more than 40 hours a week, never take paid vacation, and survive on coffee and (vomit) energy drinks. Working 70 hours a week in some organizations is more likely to earn you bragging rights than a worried call from your boss.

Our workaholic habits were only aggravated by the outbreak.

Many of us become accustomed to working from the comfort of our living rooms, blurring the lines between business and personal life. Almost a third of remote workers believe they work longer hours now than before COVID-19.

We’re starting to see the long-term consequences of this: Workers are burned out in 52 percent of cases, and 67 percent say the pandemic has exacerbated their burnout. People are quitting their jobs in droves to escape the workplace’s crushing atmosphere.

You don’t have to hit a breaking point to make a change, thankfully. You may begin setting stronger boundaries right now to increase your job satisfaction.

Related: How To Find Out Who You Really Are.

Why Do We Work Too Much?

It’s critical to consider what we’re trying to accomplish by burning ourselves to the ground. Because of a deep-seated drive to prove myself, I worked a rigorous number of hours, just like so many others. I wanted to be noticed by people in positions of power.

I desired my name to appear on sales records. The competition was a driving force in my life. We’ve seen how the weight of expectations may affect people’s mental health time and time again.

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, for example, withdrew from the French Open in May due to mental health concerns.

Similarly, one of the most decorated gymnasts of all time, Simone Biles, withdrew before the Tokyo Olympics team finals after the pressure to perform became too much to handle. While many praised the women for displaying bravery and vulnerability, others felt that they had a responsibility to fulfill.

This way of thinking is shared by far too many of us. We become caught in a cycle of doing this so that I can have this and be this. Individuals like Osaka and Biles are reshaping the workplace narrative, demonstrating to others that they don’t have to get caught up in the do-have-be hamster wheel—they can simply be.

Working too hard takes a toll on employees’ mental health, according to companies like Kickstarter. To counteract staff burnout, CEO Aziz Hasan recently established a four-day workweek. The following research backs up the theory: Labor productivity at most workplaces that tried a four-day workweek remained the same or improved, according to a study conducted in Iceland from 2015 to 2019.

Another study indicated that working less than 40 hours per week makes us happier and more productive.

Related: Ingenious Problem-Solving Techniques

Creating More Effective Boundaries

It’s a good idea to set limits as early as possible to protect your time and mental health, regardless of your weekly schedule. To get started, follow these four steps:

1) Begin With The Word Sure.


Your employer approaches you and wants you to take on a new project that you are not interested in. (Note: I’ve had a lot of experience is this type of boss.) Sorry for the inconvenience, team.) It’s tempting to simply refuse in the spirit of setting limits, but hear me out: that’s just insubordination, and it could be misconstrued as laziness.

Starting with a level of compliance is a better method.

You become more powerful when you comply. You communicate your readiness and flexibility when you consent to work or project. It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate to your manager that you’re invested in your work. Consider your options: who would you rather have on your team?

2) Fill In The Blanks With Your Information.

Once you’ve agreed to the request, make sure your manager is aware of the full breadth of your responsibilities.

These are the limits you’ll establish. It’s easy to despise authoritative figures and believe they’re entrusting you with their own nefarious tasks. In actuality, most supervisors (including myself) are unaware of the subtleties and details of the jobs they’re delegating. Managing up is one of the most effective communication strategies you can employ in this situation. As you define the project’s needs, include as many bullets as possible.

3) Make Your Presence known.

Nobody expects you to be able to do everything. You must, however, raise your hand and communicate. It might be as simple as declaring, “I’m capable of it.” This is what it will include. Is there a better option that takes into account my availability? What more can I get off my plate if I do this?”

If your manager requests a delivery deadline that you know you won’t be able to achieve, be honest. For example, I worked on a large film set once and had to do a lot of post-production editing. When I informed my employer of our team’s deadline, he asked whether we might meet it sooner.

As a result, I began going over the requirements: “Here are the measures to ensure that rack focus photos don’t have chroma key, and here’s something else we’re doing to save time.” Despite this, we’ll still be a week later than we’d prefer.”

My supervisor understood why each step needed a certain amount of time because I was specific about the project’s requirements. As a result, the deadline was pushed back.

It can feel like you have to labor yourself to death at the start of your profession to establish your worth. But it’s not worth it, and it’s certainly not a long-term solution. You’ll burn out and become psychologically drained before long. Rather than grinding oneself to a halt, talk with your manager, express your requirements and availability and work together to solve problems.

4) Fight The Issue, Not The Individual.

Focus on the problem rather than the individual as you discuss the project’s requirements and your supervisor’s expectations. Bring your ideas to the table and solicit feedback. Could some of your other tasks, for example, be outsourced to free up your time?

Could you automate a part of the process with software?

Create a situation in which you and your boss collaborate on current and future projects. I used to start with the decision point and sell it to my immediate reports from there when I was a new manager.

Good connections, on the other hand, aren’t created on sales pitches; people want context. My direct reports now maintain a “Mike List.” Before making a choice, we go over each item on the Mike List and offer any relevant context when we meet one-on-one. Thank you to all of my reports for sticking with me through my idiocy and professional growth.

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