Summary: If you’re feeling the burnout begin to creep in at work, here are some tips to offset it and get back to loving your job. Job crafting and shifting your perceptions will help you learn to lean into your strengths and do more of what you excel at in an environment where you are surrounded by great relationships.
Burnout is a term that has gained a ton of traction in the last few years. What’s more, it’s not just an emotion- it affects us mentally and physically. Our energy is nowhere near where it used to be, and our jobs begin to feel bland and sluggish at best. You may feel like you’re not good at your job anymore, and even if you do, you don’t enjoy it.
People respond to burnout in many ways. Some take a vacation or look for a new job, while others put their nose to the grindstone and hope things begin to get better soon. But the real solution is knowing how to prevent burnout in the first place and taking positive steps if it’s already started creeping into your job.
Redesigning Your Role
Job crafting is a fancy term for figuring out what you love about your job and doing that more often. The easiest way to figure this out is to map out all of the tasks you handle within your role and how much of your time each task takes. That will give you a bird’s eye view and help you make some needed improvements. Obviously, there are limitations to how much you can adjust based on your job requirements, but even then, there are steps you can take to make the non-negotiables more enjoyable.
Next, brainstorm your motivations, strengths, and passions. What motivates you? Is it problem-solving, your career trajectory, or something like building relationships? What are the things you’ve done at work that have left you feeling more rejuvenated afterward?
What are you good at? This is a great question to ask colleagues or higher-ups so that you can get direct input. You can also take a strengths assessment like this one. Knowing where you shine and focusing on that will not only boost your mood, but you will perform better, as well.
Finally, what are you passionate about? What gets you out of bed in the morning or fires you up when you get to work? These could be helping others, learning new ways of doing things or even organizing.
Which areas of your job do your motivations, strengths, and passions show up in the most often? Now you have a few options to reframe the map you laid out earlier. For starters, if it’s possible to adjust your schedule to do more of the tasks that feed directly into your motivations, strengths, and passions, start there. It’s possible that a task that has been sidelined could bring some new opportunities for enjoyment.
If some of your most time-consuming activities don’t involve many of your positive attributes, how can you try incorporating them? This will look different for each individual and role, but it will help make your job feel more personal and rewarding. If you end up with a task that you genuinely don’t know how to adapt to suit you better, try scheduling your day so that a more rewarding task comes right after.
How we think about things affects how we approach them and feel while doing them. Reframing your mindset away from seeing work as something to endure and towards a more personal achievement or goal can help it feel more rewarding. The mind is a powerful tool; you can rewire it by changing how you think and speak about your job. You don’t need to suddenly start thinking you are having the best time and nothing ever goes wrong- that won’t help. If you’re struggling with negativity, try moving to more neutral thoughts and just stating what is happening. Then you can start throwing in “buts,” as in “This day has been long, but I was able to help that student with an issue they’ve been struggling with.” Or “This week is rough, but I know I can handle it.”
Did you know you are far more likely to enjoy your work and prevent burnout if you have even just one good work friend? Connecting with someone positively while you are at work (or anywhere) can make for a great experience, even if things aren’t going as planned or you’re feeling out of sorts. Try increasing your opportunities to turn colleagues into friends and build a community of support and trust within your department. When appropriate, strike up a conversation about a topic other than work and see what you have in common with your colleagues.
Burnout is no joke. Start paying closer attention to your needs at work and how you can try approaching them from a different angle. By following the tips listed above, you can reinvigorate your role in education and bring passion back into your workday. Pretty soon, you may also start wanting to apply them to the rest of your life.