Tips For Avoiding Burnout at Work


Are you looking to use your spare time more productively? Wondering how other people manage to avoid burnout at work? We've been looking at the downtime habits of successful people. Here are tips for avoiding burnout at work:

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Aristotle once said:  “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” This insight is certainly true in business, where the people who climb the career ladder the fastest are often those who produce outstanding work time and time again. Efficiency and efficacy are two principles that are crucial to productivity, and successful businessmen and women are great at both.

Yet even the Warren Buffets and Sheryl Sandbergs of the world need time to decompress and enjoy themselves. The activities we partake in outside of working hours can play a huge role in our wellbeing, productivity and all round happiness. Whether it’s playing an instrument, playing a sport or spending time with friends and family, our hobbies reflect our approach to life and what we believe to be important.

After new research into the downtime habits of the world’s most successful people was released, we decided to ask business owners to share their own top tips for relaxation and rejuvenation outside of their day jobs. Here’s what they had to say:

Get active

Perhaps the most popular way successful people use their downtime is by exercising. Business leaders across the country are getting active, either by going to the gym or taking part in a sport.

Burnout is a real risk and heavy workloads often entice business leaders into staying later in the office. Having a set activity that allows them a couple of evenings off every week for personal time.

Aaron Inglethorpe, Digital Marketing Manager for Discount Displays, had this to say:

“Working in creative industry means I’m often called upon to come up with new ideas or concepts that require me to ‘think outside the box’.

While that is a lot of fun, it’s not always the easiest thing to do - especially if you’re having a stressful week or have a busy schedule at that point. Taking the time to remove yourself from your normal working environment is therefore essential in opening your mind and allowing those creative juices to flow.

For me, sport is a great way to do this. From racket sports to running to the occasion kick about with friends, it’s all about getting out and doing something different. I’ll always try to commit to having at least a couple of evenings where I go and participate in an activity after work, and try not to allow heavy workloads to entice me into staying later in the office.”

Recommended reading: 7 Ways To Improve Team Efficiency And Productivity

Get Outdoors

Sometimes simply getting outdoors is enough to relax. Breathing in some fresh air, taking in the world around you and getting your hands dirty are all fantastic downtime activities.

Andy Baxter, MD of Internet Gardener, is one business leader who spends his downtime in the outdoors:

“I find that gardening is the best way for me to de-stress after a hard day at work. Many people think that spending time in the garden would be the last thing I'd like to do after running a gardening furniture and supply business all day, but I'm at my happiest when I'm getting my hands dirty outdoors.

There are various studies discussing the positive effects of working in the dirt and how being surrounded by nature is calming, I enjoy these benefits but it also helps me to have key knowledge for the customers who ask me questions every day.”

Get Mindful

We all get swept up in the madness of our daily lives, whether it’s taking the children to school, preparing for company meetings or planning for our retirement. Yet in doing so we forget to be present, fully-enjoying the present moment.

Mindfulness, a movement which has grown in recent years, promotes the importance of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment. Our ability to focus on the present can be improved by practicing meditation, doing gentle yoga or even just walking.

Successful people understand that mindfulness helps them focus better and be more productive, so practicing it in their downtime is a priority. Here’s what Jacqui Macdonald, a mindfulness coach and business owner, had to say:

“When your mind is cluttered by work responsibilities and never-ending to-do lists, you are focused on the future. Too much of this and you become numb to what really matters in life and what makes you happy. You become devoured by your life, entirely dependent on circumstances going your way, and this is what can lead to stress.

It doesn't matter what the activity is - horse riding, rock climbing, playing the piano - anything that forces you to focus and brings you into the present moment is really good for you. Even a seemingly stressful hobby like bungee jumping is beneficial because for a short space of time you forget everything and reconnect with the essence of yourself - you without the job title, the responsibilities and trappings of your success.

Studies show that the more time we spend in a state of being - in other words, immersed in the present moment without regard for outcome - the more creative, emotionally resilient and ultimately calmer we become. These are all great attributes for business.”

Infographic Credit: Discount Displays

Key Takeaways

Everyone needs downtime, yet it is how we use it that contributes to overall happiness and productivity. The examples above should inspire all of us to make better use of our free time and find ways to destress in ways that truly help us be at the top of our game at work. Whether it’s doing more exercise, going outdoors or taking the time to present, we could all use our downtime to help us avoid burnout and improve our general wellbeing.

Over to you now. How do you manage downtime? Any tips for avoiding burnout at work? Tell us in the comments below. 

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