How to push back when you're burnt out
The recent news around the death of an Ogilvy Philippines employee, possibly linked to overwork, has again sparked a discussion around work-life balance and what companies can do to prevent such tragedies from ever happening again.
Overtime is a persistent problem in agencies and high-growth markets. Some companies wear it like a badge of honour. And while staff may not move organisations to make tangible changes – there are some things employees can do to push back and handle the stress better.
Reduce your workload
Many companies equate long hours with getting more done. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, it’s time to talk to your boss and ask for some responsibilities to be taken off your plate. Figure out what takes up most of your time. If the majority of it is spent on routine tasks, don’t hesitate to ask for some to be delegated to other members of the team.
Plan ahead to get the most out of your day
Before you get into work, make a list of all your unfinished projects. Prioritise and allocate time you need to get each one done.
After meeting your boss, it could be helpful to create a document where you track all your projects and key tasks. Setting a time limit and using shortcuts can be useful. Do not fixate on inconsequential details that prevent you from moving on to the next task.
Get some physical exercise in
There’s well documented benefits of adhering to regular exercise. But even beyond the physical aspects, exercising can help people develop mental clarity and ease stress. And while it sounds counterintuitive to overworked individuals, it forces people to make the time for something other than work.
If for some reason you cannot fit an exercise routine in, set aside some time for yourself or for passion projects. It could be half an hour at any point of the day to do anything you want – read a book, build an app or simply going for a walk.
Enforcing a hard stop at 6 pm or rewarding yourself for not working weekends are also useful things to do when you’re on the brink of a physical or mental burnout.
Quit and seek help
If you’ve tried everything but still find yourself losing your mind over work, it’s time to consider moving on. No job should come at the cost of your wellness and sanity. In the meantime, consider joining a support group or hiring a mental health professional. Workaholism, experts say, much like other mental health issues can be treated with therapy.
Work culture won’t change overnight, but you can manage your own health and wellness.