5 Steps to Reduce Pandemic Burnout in 2022

5 Steps to Reduce Pandemic Burnout in 2022

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The higher you advance in your career, the less your time can seem to belong to you. Take CEOs for example: One pre-pandemic study by Harvard Business School found that the average executive works 9.7 hours each day, with 79 percent conducting business on weekend days and 70 percent working on vacation days. And for many executives, the pandemic has only created longer hours and further blurred the lines between work hours and personal time. 

If you’ve been leading your team through the COVID-19 crisis for the past two years, it’s understandable if you’re feeling exhausted. The new year is the perfect opportunity to change your habits so you can work at a more sustainable pace. Follow these five steps to avoid pandemic burnout in 2022.    

Step #1: Schedule a Vacation or Staycation 

Set aside some time in early 2022 to take a much-needed vacation or staycation. Where you go isn’t important — all that matters is you don’t work. Make sure your team knows that you’re not available during this time so you can return refreshed. If you’re worried about letting go, follow these tips:

  • Designate a point person who is your go-to during your time away.
  • Alert everyone of your absence ahead of time and let them know who your point person is.
  • Limit how often you check your email messages if you must check in while you’re traveling. For example, set a 20-minute timer each morning before you set off for the day. 

Even if you simply enjoy a staycation on your couch, the goal is to check out of work for at least a few days to clear your mind. 

Step #2: Declutter and Refresh Your Workspace

Take some time to refresh your office space and create a better working environment — both at home and in the office if you adhere to a hybrid schedule. 

“No matter where you work, the environment you surround yourself with matters. Temperature, air quality, lighting, noise conditions, colors, and even plants all shape your work performance. In other words, your workspace greatly influences your productivity,” writes Elena Carstoiu, COO of the communication platform, 4PSA.

In her article, “Build a Better Version of Your Workspace,” she offers tips for how to create a workspace that promotes well-being and productivity:

1.Declutter your workspace: 

  • Go through your hard copy materials and discard, file, or digitize them as needed.
  • Stow away what you keep in folders inside a filing cabinet or storage space, away from your actual workspace but easily accessible.
  • Find a home for all your office supplies and detangle and store your cables and cords so they’re out of sight.

2.Create an ergonomic workspace that supports physical comfort:

  • Make sure your computer screens are eye-level so you don’t have to hunch your shoulders or tilt your neck down. 
  • Make sure your keyboard and mouse are parallel to the natural positioning of your elbows and wrists. 
  • Invest in a supportive chair as well as an adjustable desk that allows you to stand periodically while working.

3.Make sure your workspace is light and bright:

  • Position your desk as close to a window as possible or face it in the direction of a window to maximize your exposure to natural daylight.
  • Use an LED light bulb with a luminosity between 5,500 and 7,000K to decrease your chances of fatigue and elevate your mood.
  • Consider surrounding yourself with light, cool shades such as blues and greens to promote calmness, motivation, and creativity. 

Step #3: Identify What You Can Delegate or Eliminate

For many leaders, delegation can be a scary proposition, as it requires one to surrender control. And if you’re someone who prides yourself in getting things perfect, delegation can be particularly challenging. However, you can’t expect to do everything all on your own. In fact, you shouldn’t — otherwise, you won’t have the time and energy to focus on the needle-moving leadership responsibilities that only you can do.

Here are five ways to improve your delegation skills according to the Chartered Management Institute

  • Get prepared by detailing the expectations for each task and the expected outcome.
  • Assign tasks appropriately to team members you know can handle them, and make it as easy as possible for them by supplying them with clear information.
  • Confirm that your associates fully understand their delegated duties.
  • Avoid taking tasks back or completing ones you’ve delegated to others just because it ends up back on your plate. Coach your employees through any impasse they encounter so they’ll be better equipped to handle similar situations in the future.
  • Stay in regular communication with your associates regarding delegated tasks to avoid last-minute surprises.

Step #4: Set Clear Business Hours

One of the most important steps in preventing burnout is setting boundaries. Yes, the inevitable crisis will keep you late at work or consume your weekend, but unless you work in crisis management, this shouldn’t be a regular occurrence. If crisis mode has been the new normal for the past two years, it’s time to take a step back and take a more sustainable approach. 

Start by setting core business hours for yourself and making these known to your team. Tell your colleagues and associates they can contact your cell phone for urgent matters only, and specify exactly what constitutes an emergency. It can be helpful to set an automated email response that lets people who reach out to you know that you’ve received their email and will get back to them within a certain specified time frame, such as 24 hours. Properly setting expectations in this way can help you step away nights and weekends more easily.

Read more: How to Bounce Back from Burnout, According to 9 Executives Who’ve Done It

Step #5: Develop the Habit of Taking a Lunch Break

For many executives, the lunch hour is a period to catch up on actual work in between meetings. But what if you use this time to step away and actually eat lunch? While you can’t always avoid lunch meetings, try to take your full lunch break at least three times each week. Use the time to eat, go for a walk, run an errand, or simply get out of the office. This will help you return to your desk refreshed and ready to work through the afternoon. You may think you are working smarter by skipping lunch or eating at your desk, but non-stop hustle day after day can result in burnout before you know it.

It’s Up to You to Prevent Pandemic Burnout

While burnout can certainly be induced by one’s environment, you are ultimately responsible for setting the tone for the way you work. While you can continue working long hours and spreading yourself thin, it’s probably only a matter of time before your body or your mind can no longer keep up. Not only that, preventing burnout can help you support your team better and improve your performance. Let 2022 be the year you take back control of your work-life balance with these five steps above.

Jesse Relkin
About the Author
Jesse Relkin

Jesse Relkin is the founder and CEO of C-POP Content Marketing. She has been a freelance writer and marketing professional for more than a decade. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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