Ignoring burnout never ends well

Ignoring burnout never ends well
November 7, 2017

Are you the indispensable, go-to employee? Are you the one who gets all the odd projects and requests for help?

Or maybe you run your own business and feel unless you are on top of things 24/7 that things will get out of your control. Do you have an innate feeling the company can’t operate without your vigilance?

When does the indispensable label become too much? Is it best to always be the go-to? Will micromanaging really lead to success?

In most instances, the answer to these questions is No. The one thing it will lead to is burnout.

Who’s ultimately responsible for employee and owner burnout? YOU!

As the indispensable one, you must learn to identify the telltale signs of having too much on your plate before burnout comes knocking on your door.

Red Flags

Here are the most common red flags when you have been assigned too many projects or voluntarily taken on more than what you can handle:

You just can’t say NO – If the boss of your boss asks, whatever they asked for must be done, right? If it’s your name on the business, it all falls to you, right? Well, not necessarily.

You are falling behind – Do you find yourself suddenly procrastinating? Are you spending more time on mundane tasks as your deadlines come close? These are an indication that you have way too much on your plate. Both behaviors are a defense mechanism that becomes super handy when a person can’t decide which priority to tackle next.

You are making mistakes – When you find yourself making basic mistakes, missing deadlines, or submitting sub-par work, it’s time to evaluate your load. It is in the best interest of all involved to tackle this red flag right away.

You are having trouble disconnecting or worse, sleeping – When you spend every waking hour working or thinking about work, it’s time to reevaluate the situation. When your mind can’t let go to the point that it’s getting in the way of your restful sleep, consider that a hot red flag.

The occasional weeknight at work, emails at late hours and pulling a weekender is pretty much expected in many businesses, and it’s often part of what we need to do to stay on top. But experiencing any of the red flags above on a regular basis will get in the way of your long-term goals.


It may feel embarrassing at first, but you must discuss these feelings with your supervisor, who can help delegate, hire additional people or re-negotiate project due dates and scope. If you’re the owner, it’s time to bring more help aboard or spread around some of your duties.

If that extra project puts you at the risk of burnout, you must speak up. Let your supervisor know. It’s better to negotiate a different approach or deadline to projects now than having to take an emergency leave of absence in the middle of the rush.

It’s not about pushing back on essential assignments; it’s about being smart about priorities and moving away from being a “yes” person. In the end, who gets promoted? I’ve never seen the “yes” person rise to the top, nor the owner who does it all stay in business very long

Good leadership is about confidence, clarity and excellent negotiation skills.

First, accept that being the “indispensable one” is never conducive to a long, happy career. It’s impossible and unnecessary to get everything done when you’ve taken on more than humanly possible.

Second, prioritize and focus on what is important. What are the projects that will have the largest impact with the least effort? You’re looking for “bang for your buck.” If after prioritizing you still find that you are tackling too much it is time to delegate.

Third, when feeling the heat of burnout, it’s time to slow down. Slow down includes taking time to move your body, institute small 5-10 minute breaks every 50 minutes, reconnect with the real purpose of your job.

I often work with executives at the brink of burnout, so I ask: What are you afraid of? What’s the worse that can happen if you prioritize, delegate, re-negotiate deadlines, slow down or sleep better?

The consequences of burnout are no joke. Aside from the typical drop in productivity, your creativity can also be affected. It can even spill over your personal life, impacting those that you love the most. Ultimately, it can also have moderate-to-severe consequences in your physical health. It’s worth it to stop the vicious cycle of needing to be the needed one.

How about you? How do you avoid burnout?

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