8 Ways To Avoid Burnout At Your First Job
When you get your first job, you might already be a little tired — I mean, jobs are still pretty hard to find these days, and uploading your resume a billion times to a bunch of different employment websites is almost like a full-time job already. It might be hard to realize that you have a long road ahead, but there's ways to avoid burnout during your first job to help make things a little bit easier. Whether your job is in an office (which is excellent in the summer) or out in the field (perfect, since it's like you're being paid for exercise), being able to keep your cool and make sure you've got a great handle on your professional life are always good qualities for an employee to have.
Now, every job lends itself to burnout. If your job is repetitive, you might burn out based on the lack of a challenge. If your job is super stressful, you might burn out by taking office panic home, and refusing the chance to relax and focus on something that isn't a spreadsheet or an e-mail. If you're preparing for these moments, or you're knee-deep in the middle of an "I just don't care about work anymore, and can't handle it" freakout, here are a few ways to make sure you never have to deal with burnout again.
1. Utilize your vacation days.
Seriously. During your first year, you might not have too many. But as you start to accrue personal time off, try your hardest to spend it in a way that's beneficial to you. Sure, it's nice to spend a long weekend seeing your parents, but if all of your days are set towards family obligations, and not relaxation, you'll be hardcore stressed.
2. And on that note, utilize your breaks as well.
Are you the person who eats lunch at her desk, since you're afraid to miss a phone call or an e-mail? Cut yourself some slack. If you don't move around and get some fresh air at least once during the work day, you'll be burning out before you know it. And think of this — workers who take breaks are found to be more productive. In a study performed by DeskTime, it was figured out that the highest 10 percent of employees usually worked for 52 consecutive minutes, and then had a 17 minute break before getting more work done. Of course your workplace might have different times set for breaks, but you get the point. They're necessary.
3. Be your own boss.
Sometimes, bosses can be scary. Other times, they can be too busy to actually interact with their own employees. That means that sometimes you'll have to serve as your own motivator. Set fun new weekly goals for yourself, even if they're minor. (For example, take a typing test on Monday, and aim to improve your score by Friday.) Try to find a way to give yourself some mini-challenges while still getting the work done. Just make sure to listen to your real, actual boss for the super important stuff.
4. Always get adequate sleep.
Sleep can really make a difference. And if you're a shift worker, you're at a higher risk for getting inadequate sleep — especially if you don't have a set schedule. If you're cranky at work, you'll probably hate your job just a tiny bit more. With time, resentment is sure to build. This sounds upsetting, but try to limit caffeine after around 5 p.m., and see if it helps make a difference in getting some quality shut-eye.
5. Try to manage your time successfully.
Sometimes, you've got 15 things to do in 10 minutes. Other times, you find yourself slacking off and checking Reddit for two straight hours. Time management will help make sure you don't feel overwhelmed. Get started on a project first thing in the morning, when you're already a cup of coffee down, and the rest of your day will miraculously fall into place. It's kind of like exercising in the morning — if you don't put it off, or procrastinate, it'll be done before you know it. And you'll feel great about it.
6. Find out which stress-busters work best for you.
Some people find relaxation in a manicure, and others just need a long jog to work out their frustration. By knowing how to handle stress before the stress happens, the better you'll be able to avoid work burnout.
7. Always look out for the next opportunity.
Remember that no matter what, you're not stuck somewhere forever. It's not ideal to keep skipping around with jobs (especially if you've got a good thing going with your first one), but it's great to always have a good idea of what else is out there, especially if you work in a particularly specific industry. And if you always know in the back of your head that you'll likely not be a lifer, you'll enjoy work a bit more. Remember, never feel as if you're not a commodity. You got hired for a reason, and you're building your skills up every day.
8. Make sure your coworkers know you appreciate them.
Part of creating a good work environment falls on you. One major reason for burnout is lack of recognition, and feeling under-appreciated can make you really start resenting the workplace. If your coworkers did a good job, let them know. Perhaps the good vibes will spread throughout the office, and it'll morph into a much more positive environment. If you feel like you're a necessary part of the team, you'll be more likely to want to stick with them.
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