Reflect Tips – 6 tips for reducing your risk of burnout

Burnout is rife in the post-pandemic world of work. According to one study, almost 80% of workers have experienced burnout in some shape or form too.

In this episode of Tuesday Tips (which has had a YouTube-style revamp 📹) I give my six ways for reducing your risk of burnout:

👉 Take your annual leave
👉 Take control of your day
👉 Learn to say no
👉 Find your life balance
👉 Become more self aware
👉 Get your sleep

Whether you’re able to do this or not may give an indication to the type of culture you operate in. As Professor Adam Grant put so well recently:

“In toxic cultures, you have to burn out to earn a break. Time off is how you recover.

In healthy cultures, you’re expected to take regular breaks. Time off is encouraged to sustain energy.”

See a full transcript of the video below:

Burnout – a combination of the pandemic and the shift to more remote and hybrid working, along with a greater awareness of the issue, and it’s something which is being talked about more and more.

Hi there! Sean Butcher, people development consultant and Founder of Reflect Consultancy, and today I’m going to give you my six tips for reducing your risk of burning out.

Stats show that 55% of workers in the UK believe hybrid working has led to working more/harder than before the pandemic, with 52% of feeling that their work and home boundaries had blurred. 

So many studies have been conducted about burnout in recent times, so stats vary depending on what you read. But some show that as many as 80% have suffered from burnout at some point in their careers. 

Even New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently decided to step down, citing burnout as the main reason. 

I’ve been through burnout myself and it’s horrible. It’s important to say that burnout can be experienced differently for different people. Personally, my symptoms include an inability to focus, being unable to switch off and feeling totally drained, exhausted and disengaged with things both in and out of work.

Fortunately I’ve been able to recognise many of the signs of burnout and learn to tackle them before they become a problem.

The first, and one of the most significant, is to Take your annual leave.

This may sound so obvious, but it’s surprising just how many people don’t do this.

In the UK especially, we’re lucky to have a pretty generous annual leave allowance, especially compared to those in the US – at the very minimum, organisations need to offer you 20 days, in addition to the standard eight bank holidays that we get every year.

Or 9 as we’re getting in 2023.

There are even guides available which show you how to maximise your annual leave in combination with the Bank Holidays – I found one article which shows you how to get 48 days off work by using just 19 days of annual leave. 

I believe that one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to ‘save’ up your annual leave for something later in the year. 

Whilst this may make sense if you have a big trip planned, it also means that you can go through a number of months with no break at all.

It’s far better to try and spread your days throughout the year, and take breaks regularly.

You need to embrace downtime to let yourself switch off, to do things outside of work that make you, you. And that doesn’t always mean taking weeks off at a time, but even the odd day here and there just to get outside and do the things you enjoy.

Or maybe just even lie in bed all day – I’m not going to judge!

The second tip is to take control of your day

I think most of us that work in a ‘knowledge work’ type environment fall victim very easily to a bit of a ‘busyness’ syndrome, where if it doesn’t look like you’re doing something, we start to get a bit anxious about what others think.

And as we all know, as soon as you have any type of gap in your calendar, it will quickly get filled with a meeting or a request for help from somebody, meaning you get very little time for actual ‘work’.

The thing is, with so many of us now working in a hybrid or remote way, spending all of your time on Zoom calls very quickly drains our mental batteries. We need time to recover, and then we start to get tired and agitated because we lose time for anything significant. 

My tip for this? Learn to calendar block. Treat your big, impactful projects on an equal, if not more important footing as your meetings and other requests. Convert your to-do list into times you’ll be working on those things, and stick as rigidly as you can to them.

Disclaimer – if your boss calls you in for what is clearly a very important meeting then it’s probably best you do that, I don’t want you getting fired!

Which leads us nicely into the next point, which is to Learn to say no.

In your career you’ll need to learn to get comfortable saying ‘no’, frequently. 

Especially for us Brits that love to be polite and please everyone, this can be incredibly challenging.

But the thing is, people like to try their luck, and also when they know that you’re willing to help, they will keep coming back to you for more.

So learn to be that person that isn’t easily pushed over.

The key thing here is to find a way to prioritise effectively.

My tried and tested method is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This encourages you to assign everything  you have on your plate into a box highlighting if they are important or urgent. You can then take action based on where they fall into the box.

You’ll see almost half of these tasks shouldn’t actually be done by you, if at all.

And the thing is, most of us tend to spend our time in this square – which you will need to do, but if you neglect to schedule in those important/non-urgent tasks you’ll quickly become frustrated as this is generally where your most long-term, impactful work will lie. 

You can and should also do this with other elements of your life, and this leads me onto tip number four, which is to find your life balance. 

Lots of us take a lot of personal value from our work, but it’s unhealthy to let that define who you are as a person. 

The thing is, most of us have various other things that make up who we are. For me, I’m a parent, I’m a husband, a son, I love running and cycling, I play drums, I love music, going to gigs, food, travelling, personal and professional development. So I make sure that I dedicate time to each of these things, and don’t define myself purely by my work.

This allows me to stay balanced in all areas of my life, and ultimately feel more fulfilled and satisfied. 

Tip number five is to become more self-aware.

Now this isn’t easy and some cringe at the ideas of focusing on themselves.

But once you know who you are as a person, your personality, your preferences, your personal values, how you interact with others, everything starts to click into place.

There’s some amazing psychometric assessments you can do to start learning about yourself, including a number of free tools. One of my favourites is, which is incredibly simple and based on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator assessment. 

But for me, just knowing that I am an introvert means I know that I need to seek regular downtime to recharge, especially given much of my job involves working with other people. 

And this links nicely into the sixth and final tip, which is to make sure you get sleep!

There’s already a lot around about the importance of getting eight hours of sleep, but it wasn’t until I read Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker that I realised just how important this is.

Sleep allows your mind to rest, recharge, process information and help you manage your emotions more effectively, as well as keep you from getting ill – all important things to prevent the risks of burnout.

To be honest, it wasn’t until I became a dad that I really felt the mental impact of poor sleep, that built up for weeks and months on end. 

But not only is getting the sleep important, but figuring out WHEN to get the sleep – tying back into the point about self awareness. 

All of us have a sleep pattern, otherwise known as a chronotype. Without going too scientific, most of us fall into either an early bird or night owl category, meaning that to optimise our sleep we should be up and active during the times our minds and bodies are most productive, and to get that eight hours sleep during your natural dips in energy.

So there you have it, there’s my six tips for reducing the risk of burnout:

  • Take your annual leave
  • Take control of your day
  • Learn to say no
  • Find your life balance
  • Become more self-aware
  • Make sure you get sleep!

If you enjoyed this video please give it a like and subscribe to the channel where I’ll be doing more videos like this in the future.

Take care, and see you soon!

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