How to Prevent Burnout at Work like a Pro

By: Updated: October 9, 2019

When you're feeling busy, stressed, and burned-out, what are the first things in your life to get the cut? Going to the gym? Eating well? Taking breaks? It's common for us to let go of our self-care routine long before we consider reducing our workload. As the stress of work builds and we become increasingly unable to combat it, we put ourselves at risk of burnout.

In this article, we'll explore ways to incorporate self-care into even the busiest schedule. By using strategies like these to maintain a work-life balance, you can strengthen your ability to prevent burnout at work.


When work gets busy, one of the first things we let go of is our self-care. We tell ourselves we'll catch-up on our sleep on the weekend, we'll start eating better next week, and our gym pass becomes something we only see on our credit card statement. Each time we eliminate another part of our self-care routine, we increase our potential for burnout; a mental health issue caused by exposure to chronic occupational stress. 

In this article, discover quick and easy ways to stave off burnout during even your busiest week. Pick a couple of the suggested strategies to try this week and monitor if they help you feel more relaxed and centered during the work-day. 

12 Ways to Prevent Burnout at Work

  1. Do Less

    Doing less doesn't have to equal slacking off. For a lot of us, we over-commit and end up under-delivering. Instead of frantically multi-tasking and dragging out the timeline on various projects, choose a select group of tasks to work on each day that you are guaranteed to complete. As you get better at organizing your time, you'll have an easier time letting others know if you have capacity to take on more work and how long a task will take you. When we are overwhelmed by our workload and try to do several things at once, we have a tendency to get less done. Take a look at your to-do list, what are the 3 things you will complete tomorrow?

  2. Prepare the Night Before

    We've all been there... We didn't prepare the night before and now we are going to be late for work because our clothes aren't ironed and we're stuck picking up food on the way to work. Get the basics you'll need for your next day ready the evening before. Make yourself breakfast and lunch for the next day, get your coffee ready-to-go, have your clothes picked out and, and have any items you'll be bringing to work ready by the door. The trick to this is to do the prep before it is too late in the evening and you end up too tired to get it done.

  3. Exercise Before Work

    Not all of us can become people who wake up at 5am to hit the gym, but all of us can get ourselves moving in some way during the morning. Getting your blood flowing is one of the best ways to wake up. Add a couple more blocks to your commute by parking further from the office, or catching your bus at a further stop. Get up a few times during the first couple hours at work to keep yourself moving. When we get busy, exercise is usually one of the first things to take a hit. If you can incorporate some movement into your commute or morning routine, it can help you feel more calm and centered during your day.

  4. Observe Your Surroundings

    Even when we are extremely rushed, we can take a moment to observe our surroundings and ground ourselves. If you are walking to catch a bus, notice your muscles warming up and the feeling of the pavement against your feet. If you're stuck in rush-hour traffic, take a moment to notice your breath and posture. When we observe our surroundings it helps us become present, and take our minds off of the million other things we need to do.

  5. Keep a Tidy Work-Station

    If you have a tendency to let clutter build up on your work-station, take 10 minutes to clean it up. Cluttered surroundings can make it difficult for us to focus on the task at hand. Help your mind stay clear by giving yourself a tidy environment to enjoy.

  6. Remove Distractions

    If you don't need to have your cell phone out to do your job, tuck it away and set-aside designated breaks to check it. Not only do cell phones pull our focus from the task at hand, they can quickly eat up our time. A study from the staffing firm OfficeTeam revealed that mobile devices are our biggest distraction at work. In fact, workers waste an average of 56 minutes per day using their cell phones or other mobile devices. This adds up for nearly five wasted hours a week. 
    In another study conducted at the University of California, Irvine, it was found that the average person takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover after an interruption. If you are constantly checking your phone, or allowing other distractions, this consumes a significant portion of your day. Do yourself a favour and remove as many distractions as you can. You'll leave work with a calmer mind and more checked off your to-do list.

  7. Cut Back on Meetings

    Are you attending meetings you don't really need to be at? Is there a meeting your company has that no longer serves a purpose? Take a hard look at the amount of meetings you have committed to and make sure you're only attending what is absolutely necessary.
    A lot of the time, meetings are planned before we are ready to have them, causing us to waste time and add stress to our plate. Your company might want to consider setting meeting guidelines to help focus the meeting, and ensure a meeting is not being scheduled before the team is ready to have it. 

  8. Work on a Single Task

    When you start to work on a new task, do you complete it (as much as you can before needing someone else's approval or contribution), or work a bit on it and move on to something else? When we multi-task it can feel as though we are accomplishing so much more because we have so much on the go! In reality, many of us aren't as great at multi-tasking as we'd like to believe and end up stretching out the time it would take to get a task done. If you're guilty of multi-tasking, spend one day working on a single task at a time. Monitor how much you get done and compare it against a day of multi-tasking.

  9. Take Breaks

    No one can be "on" all the time. Allow yourself to take breaks during the workday without guilt. Even if it is short, allowing yourself to have that moment to relax and re-align will help you stay focused on your goals for the day.

  10. Re-Think Your Lunch Break

    Many people use their lunch break to scroll through social media while mindlessly eating. It's not an awful approach, but it isn't allowing your brain to take a break. On your next lunch break, try to eliminate distractions. Be mindful while you're eating, actually tasting your food and enjoying it. Take a walk and observe what's around you. Meditate for 5-10 minutes, or do some stretching. When we work our mind is constantly buzzing with all the things we need to do, giving it a chance to relax can have huge benefits for preventing burnout.

  11. Challenge Your Thoughts

    Are you constantly allowing racing thoughts to take over your thinking? Check-in with your thinking throughout the day. While you're working on a task, are you thinking about that task or are you thinking about how stressed you are about getting the task done? Challenge your thoughts throughout the day and force yourself to re-focus on the present. You will be getting your tasks done whether you do it with a calm, relaxed mind or a stressed-out one. The difference will be how you feel at the end of the day. 

  12. Laugh

    When is the last time you let yourself laugh at work? Sometimes we just need to find a little humor in every day life to help us remember that the stress we're feeling from work isn't everything.  

We hope some of these strategies helps you have a calmer, more enjoyable work-week. 


New podcast episode: Burnout in the Workplace - Causes, Recovery, and Prevention


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