How to avoid office burn-out

Career & Education

How to avoid office burn-out

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, January 05, 2020

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Dear Career Advisor:

My organisation sets high expectations of us. In fact, “Going beyond the call of duty” is an oft-repeated phrase at work. But it appears that in my effort to make a favourable impression, and with my eyes set on a promotion, I have overexerted myself, volunteering for most, if not all projects. I have now found myself frequently dozing off on the job and my doctor has warned me to be careful of burnout. What should I do?


Dear NC

Firstly, please accept my apology for the delayed response.

It is not unusual for employers to expect above the bar performance. Indeed, to be favourably considered for promotion or performance-based incentives you will be expected to have a high level of productivity in respect of direct output, while also participating in projects that help to advance the company's goals of corporate social responsibility.

However, volunteering for every project might not be a smart professional move, as, for one thing, sleeping on the job is unacceptable. Try to find that balance between professional responsibilities and personal care. You should not compromise on either. Do not overexert yourself; know when and how to say 'no'. For example, if you are working on a voluntary assignment, before accepting another, evaluate what will be required to complete the current tasks. Instead of simply saying no, a likely response might be framed this way: “That's a project I would love to participate in had not the XYZ project required an additional 20 hours of after-work time to bring it to completion ahead of the year-end report.”

Since it is the beginning of a new calendar year, this is as good a time as any for you to reorganise your priorities and recalibrate. This is going to be of vital importance in order for you to avoid burnout, low productivity, and drowsiness on the job. For maximum benefit, you should also evaluate how you spend your off-duty hours, and consider whether your activities lend themselves to personal relaxation and rejuvenation.

The Career Advisor adapts and recommends that you consider an eight-point self-care wellness regime which includes:

• Good nutrition;

• Regular exercise;

• Liberal intake of water;

• Adequate sleep;

• Moderation in the use of that which is good and avoidance of that which is harmful;

• Inhale clear and pure air;

• Rest and rejuvenation;

• Trust in divine power;

Try adapting these techniques for 2020 and beyond. Among the benefits you will obtain are a clear and alert mind, ability to focus on tasks, improved mood, positive outlook, increased productivity, and improvement in overall health.

Whatever your plans for this new year, do ensure that you take care of yourself and achieve that delicate balance between your work-life and your personal life.

All the best!

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of Student Services at Northern Caribbean University in Manchester, Jamaica. Submit your questions to her at

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