2 in 3 Americans Are Burnt Out: How To Not Fall Into the Overworked Trap

Shot of a stressed businesswoman with headache in the office.
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The majority of American workers — 88% — have experienced burnout at some point in their careers, and 67% are currently experiencing burnout, according to a recent ResumeLab survey. Additionally, 40% have experienced signs of burnout multiple times in their career, and 69% of those who have experienced burnout said it has led them to quit their jobs.

Related: The Best and Worst Things About Working From Home

The leading causes of burnout are too much work (57%), toxic work culture (34%), constant interruptions (31%), having to work overtime and on the weekends regularly (30%), and unrealistic deadlines or expectations from management (30%). While some of these factors may be out of your control, there are some ways to mitigate burnout before you reach a breaking point.

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Create Boundaries

“The key to avoiding work burnout is all about creating boundaries,” said David Magnani, president of consulting services at M&A Executive Search.

This may be especially important if you are currently working from home.

“The advantage of the traditional work setting is that we take physical actions that define a beginning and end to work: we wake up earlier, we dress in work clothes, we commute to a different place,” Magnani said. “All of these changes allow us to mentally and emotionally set a sharp boundary between home life and work life, enabling us to effectively focus on work when we are at work and personal things when we are at home. The key to working virtually and avoiding work burnout is to re-establish boundaries using similar mechanisms.”

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Magnani recommends establishing a space in your home that is dedicated to work only, dressing up for the day as you would for your office and establishing strict work hours.

Read More: How To Upgrade Your At-Home Work Space

“Let most phone calls outside of those hours go to voicemail,” he said. “Only follow up on business calls during your business hours.”

Take Breaks Throughout the Day

“Our brains work best when we have periodic breaks,” said Dr. Lisa M. Webb, a licensed clinical psychologist and entrepreneur.

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Webb recommends working in 90-minute intervals with 10- to 15-minute breaks in between.

“Time between focused chunks of work is part of the recharge our brains need and is necessary to avoid burnout,” she said.

Schedule Downtime

In addition to taking breaks throughout the workday, you should also set time aside each day before or after work to just relax.

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“Schedule time to spend away from tech and your house [or office],” said Swati Chalumuri, a personal finance blogger at HearMeFolks.com. “Refresh your mind by taking walks, going to the gym or doing any other activity that has nothing to do with work or family.”

Get Enough Sleep

Staying up late and scrambling to sign on for work on time is a recipe for burnout.

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“When your brain doesn’t have a chance to recover and repair itself, your performance declines,” said Taylor Morgan, a high-performance coach and founder of The Captain’s Lifestyle Program. “This leaves you feeling tired in the mornings and sluggish throughout your day. Brain fog kicks in and steals your productivity. You’re more irritable and easily stressed out. Because you’re physically and mentally drained, tasks take longer than they normally should and you have trouble focusing. This leads to you working longer and harder, which leaves you even more tired, stressed and frustrated — a  vicious cycle. So get more sleep.”

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Reach Out To Your Manager and Co-Workers If You Are Struggling

Whether you work from home or in an office, it can be difficult to ask for help when you need it. The ResumeLab found that 37% of employees who have dealt with burnout did not want to talk about it with their employer for fear of losing their jobs, embarrassment or a poor relationship with their employer. However, you should do your best to keep communication lines open and express yourself when you are struggling.

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“You should stay in regular contact with your manager and colleagues during the working week,” said Tony Giacobbe, senior talent acquisition consultant at Marsh McLennan. “Don’t be afraid of reaching out if you’re struggling with a particular project and/or feel that your mental health is in jeopardy. Your co-workers are likely to appreciate the contact and take measures to reduce the burden, hopefully before it becomes too large a problem.”

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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