Goal Setting and Prioritizing · Life's Challenges & Choices · Managing Stress

The ABC’s of Overworked, Tired, and Burned Out

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We all have moments when we feel overworked or tired. Sometimes it is obvious that we need a break, but we are often so deep into overwhelm that we cannot pinpoint the why or what, or how to fix it.

The differences between how we feel and function when we are overworked or tired are very subtle, in fact, they can cross over.

Overworked

  • Decreased creativity and productivity in our work
  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Decreased stamina, power, and speed
  • Decreased joy in life
  • Signs of early aging when overwork extends out over long periods of time

Fatigued

  • Emotions are unstable – shifting from irritable, short-tempered, to sad
  • Loss or gain of weight (too tired to eat vs. eating in hopes of an energy gain)
  • Unable to focus on exercise
  • Feeling of stress
  • Weak or short attention span
  • Signs of early aging when overwork extends out over long periods of time
  • Fuzzy minded

The feeling of being fuzzy-minded is the key difference between feeling overworked and feeling fatigued. When we feel overworked we may lose touch with joy, but we do not necessarily feel a lack of clarity. We still function as far as thinking is concerned when we are overworked, but we feel frustration and this drags us down in production.

In comparison, you can safely drive a car when you are overworked. In fact, you may feel you drive better under these circumstances. When you are tired your attention span is short. You do not think clearly, which narrows your driving ability down to unsafe levels.

Have you ever felt overworked, yet, everything felt blurred, to the point you could not figure out how to resolve it? You may have been overworked, but if the hammer had dropped the verdict would have been YOU WERE TIRED.

The steps to correcting overwork are:

  • Prioritize
  • Say no
  • Organize
  • Plan
  • Set limits (schedule work hours and stick to it)
  • Delegate

The steps to fixing tired are:

  • Get adequate sleep
  • Shut down early before going to sleep (turn off the phone and anything related to online)
  • Exercise appropriately
  • Eat well and drink water

Burnout is also close in line behind the symptoms of overworked and tired.

You may feel:

  • Most days are bad days
  • Exhausted nearly all of the time
  • Spend the day doing tasks that feel overwhelming or not interesting
  • Nothing you do seems to make a difference or feels appreciated

Burnout affects your body, home, work, and social life. It is like a shipwreck in progress. You hit a rock and the boat begins to fall apart.

Here’s what you can do to kick burnout to the curb:

  1. Manage stress – get it under control
  2. Increase social contact (but do not expect people to fix you)
  3. Exercise (focus on the health of your body…make it tick well)
  4. Find value in what you do (or just be, you don’t have to DO!)
  5. Balance life (life, work, friends, family, whatever you value in your personal world)
  6. Take time off (for YOU)
  7. Eat healthy and drink water
  8. Set boundaries
  9. Take a break from technology

What do these 9 steps do for you? #1, nourishment of creativity through increased health and relaxation. It is like closing a gate to something that sucks the life out of you.

This is your mission…watch your body and mind for signs of fatigue, burnout, or overwork. Know the difference between the three, and nurture yourself through awareness and prevention.