How to Work Harder & Not Burn Out

by  via @inc

You might think keeping work and your personal life separate is best for balance. But it might actually be causing you to burn out.

sleeping on the job 

For so many of us, keeping work and a personal life fairly balanced is a constant struggle.

Maybe it’s time to rethink the “separate but equal” work-life balance theory and find ways to rekindle and nurture the passions that drew us to our career choices in the first place?

If we don’t, we risk burnout. Here are three strategies for avoiding burnout by staying connected to work, both as an employee and as a person.

1. Connect the dots between the Home You and the Office You. 

One cliché that still holds very true: Finding what you love is central to being your best at work. Within your industry and organization, be sure that your talents and abilities in “real life” (the things that are important to you in your day-to-day life at home) are in line with your tasks at work. In the best scenario, the talents that make you who you are in your family life, your social life, your hobbies, etc. are also put to use in your job (think meticulous attention to detail, compassionate understanding in social situations, drive to creatively problem solve, etc.).

Not there yet? Even some small changes--like taking on pieces of projects that you feel connected to--can help give you a more personal relationship to your work and company.

Some of the best decisions I’ve made for Blu have involved helping employees find where they are best suited and where their passions within the business truly lie. Productivity goes up, of course, but so do morale, fresh ideas, and a host of other invaluable and highly contagious effects.

2. Keep the big picture easily within reach--literally.

Getting caught up in the minutiae is so easy, especially when your job is high stress, involves managing others, or demands intense attention to detail.

There’s much research to support the idea that visual reminders can be powerful motivators. So find one and keep it in plain sight. Hokey? Maybe.

But I remember one day when I stopped by my local pizza place for a slice, I was struck by, of all things, the box: The ambitious little pizza company had designed its box to incorporate the words that evoke its mission and message. It depicted visually the ideals at the core of the business. That stuck with me. I cut out the box top and still have it to this day at my desk.

Reconnecting to the reasons you were inspired in the first place is crucial to keeping your own work exciting--and, if you are the boss, provides the fuel for continuing to inspire others.

3. Create opportunities for employees--or for yourself--to be in the thick of it.

When you’re staring at this month’s budget spreadsheet under the glow of your desk lamp at 11 p.m., it can be hard to remember the why.

When the going gets rough, it’s hard to remind yourself that it’s thanks to that budget that resources can be adequately allocated in the development of new and better ways to bring clean, beautiful, green homes to Americans looking to live healthier lives, for example.

Combat this by putting yourself “in the field,” even if your job has nothing to do with frontline work. One non-profit I know does this with a program that rotates employees through an “ambassador” program that gives people working in all parts of the organization a chance to represent their company and witness firsthand the impact of their work on the ground in Third World countries. This is an ambitious solution, but it doesn’t take such extravagant programs to have a similar effect. Look for events outside the office that bring you closer to your business’s core.

If you don’t step outside of your cubicle (or your corner office), you risk feeling disconnected from your business and why you’re there. 

If your workplace can’t help facilitate enrichment of this kind, then take it on for yourself. It’s an investment in your career and your happiness.