etalk extra: Ban Burnout, By Laura Stack MBA, CSP


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Are you overworked, overstressed, overwhelmed, and overcommitted? Are you constantly tired and irritable? Are you experiencing distressing physical symptoms such as crankiness, headaches, back pain, and intestinal problems? You could be well on your way to burnout. It’s important for you to recognize the signs of burnout before you hit the wall, so you can make some necessary changes.

Learn to recognize the five stages of burnout:

1. Physical: Loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, back pain, tension headaches. Minor accidents and errors in assignments. If these persist for two weeks, burnout is likely the cause.

2. Social: Employee perceives a heavy workload with no time to finish work. Personal relationships decrease.

3. Cerebral: Employee is acting like a broken computer exhibiting strange patterns in writing and speech. Exhibits inattention and watches the clock.

4. Emotional: Withdrawal from friends and family. Person often escapes through drugs, alcohol, affairs, excessive spending, missed deadlines, and minimal productivity.

5. Spiritual: Person feels totally empty inside, seeks major change, career, spouse, home, often clinically depressed.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, what can you do to ban burnout in yourself or others? Start by lowering your stress level. You cannot eliminate all stress in your life; in fact, some stress may be positive. Positive stress is called motivation, excitement, and drive. However, when stress is constant and unrelieved, it can become negative and destructive. So stress must be balanced with relaxation.

You can break the cycle by learning ways to relax and cherish yourself. Take time out for yourself in SOME way on a regular basis. Give yourself a chance to unwind and get ready for life’s next challenge. Do whatever works for you. You make time for everyone else in your life, and you are equally (and more) important. Controlling your time will help control your burnout.

Lastly, do the same old things to promote good health: eat well, exercise more, and get more sleep. Nothing has changed much in this area over the years. Unfortunately, many people look at these principles and believe they have to do them all at once. So they stress out and don’t do anything! Embrace the idea that health is not an “all or none” proposition. Discover what works for you, and be focused about doing the few things that consistently reduce your stress level. Your productivity and your sense of accomplishment will increase, and you will ban burnout.

© 2009 Laura Stack. Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, author, and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier® with Maximum Results in Minimum Time®. She is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in high-stress organizations. Since 1992, Laura has presented keynotes and seminars on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in today’s workplaces. She is the bestselling author of three works published by Broadway Books: The Exhaustion Cure (2008), Find More Time (2006) and Leave the Office Earlier (2004). Laura is a spokesperson for Microsoft, 3M, and Day-Timers®, Inc and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, and the New York Times. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Sunoco, KPMG, Nationwide, and 3M. To have Laura speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401. Visit to sign up for her free monthly productivity newsletter.

To learn more about how organization and time management can help you achieve success visit the Day-Timer Community at

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