How NOT to Burnout at Work

Written by Edmund

Remember the time when you were in your graduation robe and all you could think of was getting a really nice job, earn some money and be loved by the imaginary employer that exists only in your hopeful mind? It felt almost like you were so ready to take on the world and destroy any naysayers in your way.


“Yeah, me too.”

Eleven months (and counting!), to be exact, is the term since I’ve started my full-time employment in a startup and of course along the first few weeks, work has hinted me to throw away those wishful thinkings off the grid and be prepared to hustle ‘till death do us (work and myself) part. In the earlier months, it’s full speed ahead and work isn’t going to go all “Aww you poor little thing, get some rest”. More effort is to be given to adapt to your new environment, and furnishing yourself a good impression for your employer is crucial, almost feel like giving up but everything is under control at the moment. #phew

Halfway through the financial year, the pace gets faster as the company goes through puberty and everyone is hustling to feed the company’s increasing appetite for growth. Stress builds up and emotions run high, and all you think of his how perfect it would be to be sitting in the lectures you once despised. And slowly along the way, it felt like everything was crumbling down and nobody loves you. This is the beginning of the process of getting burnt out and it’s a dead end if it is not addressed.


As stress builds up without being addressed, it becomes chronic stress and Dr Ballard, the head of the APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program suggests that this leads to burnouts. Burnout isn’t exactly what you need as it affects a person negatively and subsequently kills all willpower to go on, whether in your personal or professional life.


Let’s face it — hustling is hard work and it’s inevitable that you break down sometimes. So here are some ways I’ve tried (you should try too!) to be sustainable at work:

1. Manage Your Expectations and Negotiate

This is the mantra of my supervisors and I finally came to understand why it is important to be honest regarding your limitations and your workload. Many times we put unnecessary stress upon ourselves by taking on extra work without considering what you have on your plate at that point in time. “Thanks for taking up this matter!” your supervisor subsequently gives a pat on your back and it finally hit your senses that you have other important tasks pending and your heart whispers “sibeh jialat liao” (translation: I’m in deep trouble). Always talk it out with your supervisors because most of the time, they are more than willing to help if you are willing to be honest and transparent to them.


2. Have enough sleep. Please.

For decades, your poor parents have been begging you to sleep early and sleep well, but their advice was not taken. You end up going to sleep at wee hours early enough to greet your neighbours good morning. Chances are your parents aren’t sleep specialists but research supports that having less than 6 hours of sleep contributes greatly to your burnout at work as it affects your productivity at work and subsequently leading to poor work performance. Not only that, your decision-making powers will be hampered and multitasking would be more difficult. Think sleep is for the weak? Think again.


3. Escape and Disconnect

Escape doesn’t mean ditching your responsibilities at work but rather a getaway to somewhere away from the hustle and bustles. Rent a GoCar and organise a weekend away with the family or your mates, and keep your mind off work for a moment. Try new food, challenge yourself to go for parasailing, watch a movie, explore local getaway destinations. Always set a boundary as to when to attend to your mobile phone and keep family time exclusive, after all, they’re your support.

It’s the beginning of the new year and there isn’t time to burnout. Think you have a better way to be sustainable at work? Let us know!


Till then, have a great start to 2017 and #LetsHustle

Edmund. (@edmundevansc)

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