• Scott Herring

Secrets to Battling Burnout

If you feel tired & demotivated and feel as though you’re failing at your writing, you’re displaying classic symptoms of burnout. According to research from the American Institute of Stress, the number one cause of stress is work pressure. 62% of American employees report high levels of stress and three out of four people experience both physical and psychological impacts from it (and that was BEFORE the pandemic). Stress is a large problem. Michael and I understand the importance of reducing those stress triggers to be able to write effectively. So we'll share our secrets to battling burnout.

You may feel “overload burnout” if you work until you’re completely exhausted. Or you could be working to avoid things in your personal life – some burnout victims seek a way to avoid life problems or loneliness by burying themselves in work. In either case, you’ll want to strive toward a better work/life balance. If you do, you’ll probably find the quality of your work will improve, despite a lower quantity.

1. Take small steps.

Habits are hard to create and harder to break. If your life is all about work or writing, find a way to do one simple thing that isn’t that. Go out to lunch with a friend, spend an evening reconnecting with an abandoned hobby (as I look at my guitar in the corner). Do it once. Then do it again another day.

2. Take a step back.

If your work has consumed your life, think about the initial cause. Were you pursuing a new role? Were you avoiding something at home? Evaluate the cause to see if what you’re doing has any reasonable effect on that goal (note, resolving issues at home could be solved in better ways).

3. Take a class.

Not only can a course challenge you to learn something new, but it may be the better solution to rekindling your energy. Having more writing, marketing or design skills is an enabler. In the long run, new skills earn more rewards than time (we could introduce you to some middle-aged computer folks who are struggling because they didn’t keep up with technology trends). The added benefit to classes are that they eat into the overtime problem (like a happy distraction). And you have more options for online learning than ever.

4. Protect your schedule.

As you tackle burnout, set better working hours. Stop checking emails before having coffee in the morning. Start and stop working/writing at a set time. Cease checking emails after dinner.

5. Seek help.

If speaking to a counselor or trusted advisor is an option, choose it. Explaining your situation to someone and then listening to their feedback can guide you to a better path.

6. Put it all together.

If you can take the small steps, then you can combine them into a bigger one. Take a day off. Take a weekend off. Take a vacation. Reward yourself for cutting back.

Secrets to Battling Burnout

Burnout can happen to anyone. It starts out by doing good work. Then you see an opportunity to do more, so you add more. And then the cycle continues, building and adding and adding and building. Until...burnout. I’ve shared my (firsthand) secrets to battling burnout here – yes, even renegades get caught in its clutches. You can fight the beast too – start small and add (the same process, just in reverse!).

Recommended Reading:

  • Deep Work (Cal Newport)

  • Essentialism (Greg McKeown)

  • Indistractable (Nir Eyal)

  • Effortless (Greg McKeown)

  • Art of Impossible (Steven Kotler)


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