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Feeling burned out at work? These 6 action steps could turn things around for you.

Many of my coaching clients are telling me that they’re feeling burned out at work. They all feel busier, feel overwhelmed, are being stretched further and feel more tired and exhausted than ever before.

They’re working longer and longer hours and feelings a lot more stress than they’ve experienced in the past, creating a feeling of being burnt out at work.

If you’re feeling burned out at work know that you’re not alone. Gallup recently surveyed more than 7,500 full-time employees about burnout. 23 percent of those workers said they felt burned out more often than not. An additional 44 percent reported feeling burned out sometimes.

A BBC article described burnout as “having three elements: feelings of exhaustion, mental detachment from one’s job and poorer performance at work.”

Verywellmind defines burnout as “a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress and is characterised by three main dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism and feelings of reduced professional ability.”

As a business coach specialising in working with entrepreneurs, part of my job is helping my clients reduce overwhelm and manage their time effectively so that they can get back on track to achieving their goals

What is burnout?

Burnout causes people to feel exhausted, fatigued, unable to cope and overwhelmed with everything they have going on.  Burnout often happens through overwork and affects people mentally, physically and emotionally and can lead to constant stress and an ability to think or act clearly.

Calmer details the 5 stages of burnout as “honeymoon phase, onset of stress, chronic stress, burnout and habitual burnout.”

What to do when you’re burned out

Here are 6 steps to take when you’re burning out at work.

1. Focus on you and your wellbeing

People often get burned out at work when they don’t make themselves a priority.  Working longer hours, taking on more commitments and impending deadlines can make anyone feel stressed.

Instead of stepping back to rejuvenate and gain more energy, people take on more and more work and responsibility.  This may be achievable in the short term.

But in the long-term it can create fatigue, feelings of being exhausted all the time and can impact your health.

When you take on too much and feel tired all the time, you lose clarity, motivation and focus, which impacts your confidence and sense of well-being.  To stop feeling exhausted all the time, be kinder to yourself and treat yourself as a priority, not second best.

Read more on how to stop feeling tired all the time.

2. Identify what’s causing you to feel stressed

If you’re feeling burned out at work, it’s essential to identify the things that are causing burnout before you can create an action plan to overcome it.

Identifying obstacles is always the first step in overcoming them.  Start by examining how you’re currently spending your time.  Write down how much time you’re spending in the office and on what activities.

This simple act of tracking your time will help you identify what’s working and not working.  Write down, or use time tracking software, to lay out all of your activities in 30-minute intervals.

Against each activity identify whether you love doing that work, find it ok, or hate doing it.

By doing this you’ll understand how many hours you’re actually working and whether the activities you’re doing bring you stress or energy.

This gives you the framework to explore how you can eliminate some of the work that causes you stress and more of the work that gives you energy.  Read more about how to eliminate stress at work.

3. Minimise stress at work

We all have different activities, routines or people that create stress at work.  To stop burnout, understand what your stressors or stress triggers are so you can eliminate them or reduce their influence.

Some of these stressors may be habitual patters, certain people or situations.  You may struggle with procrastination, which causes stress as you give yourself tight deadlines to work towards.

You may constantly multi-task which creates a feeling of overwhelm and having too much to do.

Your to-do list might be too long, which can cause guilt and anxiety if you haven’t completed it each day.

You may be a perfectionist spending endless hours polishing or tweaking your work to make it perfect.

Spend some time recognising what’s causing you to feel stressed so you can take action.  This may be eliminating or delegating certain activities, so you don’t feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.  Read more about how to stop procrastinating.

4. Create better boundaries between work and home

A great way to increase your sense of control and reduce your stress is by setting boundaries between work and home.  If you find yourself working all hours, and then bringing work home with you, it’s bound to cause some level of stress.

To reduce feeling burned out at work, set a time to unplug from work so you can rejuvenate and have more time with family and friends.  This may include finishing work early on some days or committing to not working from home a few nights each week.

You might choose to turn off email notifications when you get home or stay away from anything business related a few evenings a week.

The key is to leave work both physically and mentally so you can rejuvenate and recharge yourself and stop feeling burned out.

Read more about creating a better work-life balance.

5. Manage your time better at work

The first thing you may notice if you feel burned out is being tired all the time.  This feeling of exhaustion may come from working longer hours, not taking any breaks, or constantly switching between tasks.

A key component that leads to burnout is how you spend your time.  Avoiding burnout starts with taking control of, and actively managing your time.  Rather than working harder, start working smarter.

Spend more time working on your most important and less time on activities that could be done by someone else.

Take more time away from work to rejuvenate.  Schedule free time away from work.

If you haven’t had a vacation for a long time, take a vacation and fully unplug.    Read more about managing time effectively.

6. Get better sleep

Lack of sleep or reduced sleep quality can cause mental fatigue that contributes towards feeling burned out at work.

If you find yourself feeling exhausted or tired all the time, make a commitment to improve your sleep quality.  Getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night will help you get more energy back and help you feel more motivated and productive.

If you are struggling to get that amount of sleep each night, try going to bed an hour earlier or get up an hour later.  Get tips on how to improve your sleep.


When you’re feeling burned out at work it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious.

Use these 6 tips to help you overcome burnout, reduce stress and regain your balance.

Now I’d love to hear from you.

What actions do you take when you’ve experienced being burned out at work?

How have you overcome burnout?

Let me know in the comments.

Further reading.

Overwhelmed at work? 10 strategies to beat stress

6 habits of highly productive people 

Tips on how to overcome perfectionism

About the Author

Mark Pettit is the Founder of Lucemi Consulting and a small business coach to business owners who want to simplify their time, energy and focus so they can multiply their freedom, impact and results.

Get more articles, tips and tools to help you simplify your time to multiply your results on the blog.

Sign up to my Time For What Matters newsletter to get more tips on creating a better work-life balance.

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