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I have burned out at my current job. I feel that my productivity is falling.

What is the best way to fix it?

In the past I have always quit a job then searched for another one. I think this is not a good approach to the problem even if in the past I have always found better payed job.

But now payment is not the case, just too much pressure. I would work for a smaller amount just to get rid of this "Every issue is High importance and everything needs to be done in record time".

Stupid but true.

And by the way I have 10 days yearly to use it for my vacation. I have used 4 of them for personal stuff. So vacation doesn't come as solution.

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2  
take a sabbatical year? –  tehnyit Sep 6 '11 at 13:49
    
@Senad Do you take breaks between activities or only the standard break for lunch? –  Renan Sep 6 '11 at 14:21
    
Only standard break, and no time to rest... –  Senad Meškin Sep 6 '11 at 14:33
    
Why do you think looking for another job isn't the right approach? If most of your issue is due to a high-pressure workplace culture, it seems like a job change might help. Hopefully to one that gives you more vacation - 10 days just really isn't enough! –  weronika Sep 8 '11 at 16:02
    
@tehnyit: While this works for university, it doesn't work if you need to work to pay the bill... I always played with the idea of waiting a year before starting university, but think it's better not to take one as it's put you back a year. But well, maybe has earned that much that it's feasible to take off, be it a month... –  Tom Wijsman Sep 8 '11 at 19:08
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6 Answers 6

up vote 18 down vote accepted

I think you made a good first step by asking here. One way to relieve stress and burnout is to write down the problem, communicate it with others, and define steps to fix it. Overall you want to get the stress and burnout out of your subconscious, so your subconscious can feel like you have relaxed control of yourself, regardless of the external situation.

Now, while you can and should seek specific relief by asking for it (postpone project X, reassign project Y), you are unlikely to see a fundamental change in the organizational culture that led you to this point. That's why organizations pay a premium for people who can manage a constant stream of stressful situations without losing their own sense of relaxed control. Here are some tips to do so:

  1. Set limits on your commitment to work. For example, limit yourself to only work 9 to 5, only think about work when you are physically present at work, take your full lunch break, etc. Many of these limits are written in your HR policies. Breaking your limits may buy you some time to close a particular project, but in general your limits are crucial to avoid burnout.

  2. Communicate as clearly as possible about what you can realistically do. Even the best manager may not know your limits, and may give you more assignments than you can do. By saying "I can't do X until next week because I'm prioritizing Y", you are not letting anybody down, you are giving your manager very valuable information.

  3. Keep an organized record of all the things you have committed to doing. You want to communicate explicitly about what commitments you have open. You may have committed in your subconscious to do many dozens of things: You want to track these commitments on paper, not in your subconscious where they burn you out.

  4. You may want to read Getting Things Done or a similar book about relaxed control and avoiding burnout.

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Thanks krubo, this helps. –  Senad Meškin Sep 8 '11 at 15:16
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Here's a left-field idea: find a local Brazilian jiu jitsu school and take a class. You will find it impossible to maintain any kind of residual attention (ie, thinking about things after you've left work) when you're literally fighting for your life.

You'll have the added advantage of improving your fitness and self esteem, whilst learning something new and empowering.

Try it for a month and see if it helps. Best case it does; worst case you tried something new and it wasn't for you.

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I recommend trying to Pomodoro Technique http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/products.html#pomodoropdf you can get the ebook for free from the pomodoro site.

Bascially, it forces you to break up tasks into pomodoro's which are 25 minutes in length, then you take a 5 minute break. After 4 pomodoros you take an extneded break. This could help you with the burn out and the chaos that is your day.

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I don't know about your relation to your boss or what you do, but maybe you could discuss it with him/her? If you are motivated to stay tell him/her that but at the moment you would like to see other aspects / do other things.

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I think this is not a good approach to the problem even if in the past I have always found better payed job.

I'd be interested to see your reasoning behind this. Sometimes, if you are dealing with a poisonous management and work culture, it is the very, very best approach to take.

You really need to see what's causing your stress/pressure and how many options you have for changing it. If all the sources are external (which they can often be in some jobs), then it's entirely possible that changing jobs to a different atmosphere will fix the problem.

Leaving aside the stress always on high pressure, I'd be inclined to ask do you like what you are doing, do you otherwise feel in control of your life. If there are changes you can make (like modifying your working hours, for example), are you allowed to do that - I know that some places, once you've made a habit of working 2 hours extra a day, not doing it becomes difficult because it changes people's perceptions of you.

I think what you should consider doing is looking at life as a whole and seeing what you want to change, what you want from life and how you might get yourself into a position where you retain more control over major decisions.

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My problem is whole project management, communication matrix. There are no, or a small amount of functional specification. Receiving issues through bug tracking system, through Skype call and chat, through email. Mostly its one line description for new functionality. So this is giving pressure because you are working on something that no one knows how it should be done and it needs to be done yesterday. So working is not problem, changing job is not problem, problem is keep current job because I don't want to be job hopper, if you know what I mean. So I want to find the best way to manage it. –  Senad Meškin Sep 9 '11 at 10:52
    
The short answer to that is that you need to improve the communications issues then. If you get a one line description for new functionality, you have to point out that this is not feasible as a requirements description. Without getting that issue changed, you are not going to be able to manage things in the future. Request clarifications. And your issues really and truly should only come through one track, even if they get flagged through more informal channels, they should, for all cases come through your bugtracking. –  temptar Sep 9 '11 at 10:57
    
Hey, I'm experienced programmer, software developer, I know what I need to do, but that is not working, so only way that I have is manage my self in order to avoid stress. I can't manage them or point them in a right direction, because I have tried and its not possible. –  Senad Meškin Sep 9 '11 at 10:59
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Burnout is a serious illness, contact a specialist -- a MD -- immediately.

As far as I know the burnout can cause problems with, e.g., adrenaline production in your body (and exhaust other hormone production). So your body need a much stronger stimulus to get motivated in a critical situation. In the end it is harder and harder to make yourself to face challenges. So it is harder and harder to cope with burnout symptoms yourself.

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Burnout isn't a disorder, you don't need a doctor for that. He can't give you any form of treatment that will make it magically go away; it's something that you need to do by yourself, and thus solely a psychiatric symptom. –  Tom Wijsman Sep 8 '11 at 23:58
    
I have to admit that I am not a doctor but it is what I learn from my friend who is. As far as I know the burnout can cause problems with, e.g., adrenaline production in your body (and exhaust other hormone production). So your body need a much stronger stimulus to get motivated in a critical situation. In the end it is harder and harder to make yourself to face challenges. So it is harder and harder to cope with burnout symptoms yourself. –  Skarab Sep 9 '11 at 9:46
    
Yes (there is no magic treatment), Yes (it is psychiatric symptom) –  Skarab Sep 9 '11 at 9:48
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