[This post originally appeared on the Virtual Vocations blog here.]
A little stress on the job is a proven motivator, but take on too much of it and you’re looking at the biggest productivity killer of all: job fatigue.
Job fatigue, which is also commonly referred to as job burnout, tends to sneak up on and snag the best of us when we’re not being mindful of our professional needs and limitations. Maybe a project is taking too long or a virtual client is requesting too many demands outside of the scope of the contract.
Don’t worry, it happens to most of us at one time or another. Fortunately, there are a number of of simple measures you can implement to combat work-related stress. Here are seven quick and easy steps you can take right now to give yourself a little TLC and overcome job fatigue.
Acknowledge the symptoms
Be proactive. It’s important to know when job fatigue is taking hold so you can rest up and get better early on when the symptoms first present themselves. You could be suffering from job fatigue if you are physically and mentally exhausted, feeling anxious and irritable, experiencing a loss of interest in work, or have trouble concentrating and difficulty sleeping.
Sound familiar? Job fatigue originates from the real or perceived inability to keep up with constant demands, and if you don’t take a breather now, the symptoms will only get worse. At the first sign of trouble, take a step back and take care of yourself.
Take a mental break
It’s official: we’re workaholics. We already know that taking time off leads to higher productivity and better overall health, but according to workplace studies, at least 41% of Americans don’t take the vacation time they are allotted, which works out to 429 million wasted vacation days every year. Do your part to fend off job fatigue by taking a little time off from work to reinvigorate interest in your job and bolster your job satisfaction level.
Assess your priorities
When you’re feeling burned out at work, chances are you’re not keeping a balanced routine before and after office hours. Do you have enough time for socialization, healthy eating, and exercising? If not, there’s your culprit.
We suggest starting your day with a physical activity, like a stroll around your block or even tackling a handful of household chores, rather than immediately rushing to your home office and logging onto your computer. An early morning endorphin release could help mitigate your overall stress and may lower your blood pressure.
Refresh your surroundings
A change of scenery or work conditions could be enough to break up the monotony of your work routine and make you feel more excited about your job. If you’re used to only working at home, explore one of these 4 Cool Co-working Spaces You Won’t Believe. If you’re used to working in silence, get inspired by listening to classical music or musical film scores while you churn out your next project.
Seek a unique creativity boost
If you can dream it, chances are, there’s an app for it. Workplace productivity has reached new heights with a little help from trusty technology. When you’re in a work slump, try Coffivity on the web or for your mobile device for ambient coffee shop sounds that are proven to spark cognition.
Clear your digital and tangible clutter
Use Sanebox to bring some sanity back to your email inbox. This app learns what emails are the most important to you, and puts other messages into the “slow lane” so you can check them when it’s a more convenient time. The same goes for your desk: a clear work space inspires a clear mind, so tidy up at the end of every day.
According to a Gallup survey, the average American work week is 47 hours. Utilize an app like StayFocusd to prevent distractions and reduce the number of hours spent in front of a computer. StayFocusd great productivity tool designed to minimize time wasting via non work-related website and social media pages. Users can customize which websites to block and for how long.
How to know when it’s time to quit your job
If all else fails to relieve your job fatigue, it may be time to throw in the proverbial towel. The strategies listed above should give you enough space and time to recover from work burnout, but if they don’t, it could be indicative of a larger problem.
Here are a few bonus tips that will help you recognize when it’s time to quit your job and look for other work:
You dread, and I mean really D-R-E-A-D, Mondays
The Monday blues are normal, but if the thought of starting your work week sends you into a panic-induced cold sweat or interferes with your sleep, chances are you’re working for the wrong company.
You can’t get your work done
If you’re productivity level is at an all-time low, it’ll be hard to recapture your motivation to the same level that it was when you first started. So if you’re spending more time fantasizing about writing your resignation email than actually working, you’re mentally checked out and ready for a fresh start with another employer.
You’re (literally) sick and tired
Adrenal fatigue is what happens when people experience prolonged episodes of stress, and the immune system often takes a big hit. If you can no longer explain the reason for your frequent colds or tension headaches, you may want to consider sprucing up your resume and using the Virtual Vocations job database to land another gig.