Feeling wasted and burned out at work

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

May 21

When you go to work, what’s your expectation? Are you expecting good things to happen while at work? Or do you expect to get run over by a truck?

Sure, not every day at work goes great, but over time, things should either be getting better — or they are getting worse. Without taking a step back on a regular basis, we wake up one morning and it is two years later and nothing has changed. Except the truck seems to succeed at running us over a bit easier.

A clue to how are work is going comes from feeling like our time is wasted. Or that we’re feeling burned out on the job. When you feel that way, our expectations about work run into reality. We then don’t pay attention to the reality and that truck comes along and runs us over again.

Check your integrity

If you operate from integrity, you don’t have a cognitive dissonance about what you say and do. Compromising your principles is a fast way to get burned out.

Not everything in a company will match up with your principles. Sometimes you discover that what the company is doing is not matching up to how you operate. That happens with changes in leaders or a simple miss on your part during the interview process.

Books could get written about how to match your values to those of a company. The key here is if you are feeling burned out on the job, check your values. Check your company’s mission statement — and how they really operate. Chances are, you’ll see differences in your values versus what the company is doing.  If they are aligned, great. If they are indifference to your values, that’s okay. But if they don’t match, you’ll have a level of anxiety there as a base all the time.

Check your completion

Want to feel overwhelmed all the time? Do 75% of everything and 100% of nothing. You’ll have so many irons in the fire you’ll surely get burned. Or burned out.

The hardest thing to do at work is staying focused in a world of constant interruption — instant messenger, e-mail, coworkers visiting your cubicle and continual meetings. You can never get anything done. And then people start whining your work isn’t completed and you start serving those who are the latest and the loudest.

All because you could never complete one thing and then move to the next.

The challenge for your task management system is to identify all of your commitments and what it takes to fulfill the commitment you made.

Check the agreements you make with yourself

This is the one that nails me all the time. I make an agreement with myself to, say, exercise in the morning before going to work. Then I don’t. I break my own agreement. Then, later in the day, I say that I will go talk to Sally. But then I don’t. And I break another agreement. Then I get sidetracked and rush to my evening meeting without stopping at home like I thought I was going to do.

Pretty soon, you have a string of agreements you’ve made with yourself all broken. It takes away from your ability to have confidence in what you do. It takes away your ability to have integrity. Breaking agreements takes away from your personal power to do what needs doing.

Wasted and burned out are symptoms

Time for that checkup. If you are feeling wasted and burned out, it will take more than a vacation to get you back in an engagement with your work. The first place to examine is what you’re expecting to happen at work versus the reality. If your values don’t match that of your management or company, you aren’t completing tasks, and your breaking agreements with yourself, something needs to change. Not just time away from the job, but change.

What do you do when you get burned out from work?

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.