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How to Recover From Burnout: A 10-Minute Guide

Dealing with burnout? It’s time to find balance. Read this guide to learn how to recover from this issue and thrive in your career.

Haylee Read
Writer at Motion
Jul 9, 2024
Table of contents

Maintaining work-life balance is a challenge for most people. But if you’re finding that you’re becoming so exhausted that your daily life is being impacted, you might be burnt out.

Employee burnout is proving to be a huge problem that human resources teams are working hard to combat. In fact, a recent study found that as many as one in four employees suffer from this issue.

In this article, we walk you through steps to recover from burnout and show you how to rebalance your time so you can get back to work feeling renewed, motivated, and ready to conquer the world.

What is burnout?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes burnout as an official health diagnosis. It typically happens as a result of continuous work-related stress.

What are the signs of burnout?

If you’re wondering whether what you’re experiencing is just normal tiredness or true burnout, there are three key ways to tell the difference.

When you’re burnt out, you’re:

  1. Exhausted: This can present as physical symptoms, mental fatigue, or even emotional exhaustion that leaves you feeling drained and unable to cope with your usual work demands. This type of exhaustion goes beyond that tired feeling after having a long day. It can be debilitating, keeping you from not only work but also the things you enjoy in your personal life.
  2. Cynical or detached: You might find yourself with an overall feeling of negativity toward your work, either detached or disconnected from your usual duties. This often includes a loss of enthusiasm and motivation that goes beyond just needing a day off to decompress.
    Three symptoms of burnout represented with icons
  3. Underperforming: You might notice a significant decrease in your productivity and efficiency, leading to poorer work performance and outcomes. This might involve trouble concentrating, difficulty making decisions, or issues completing even simple tasks on time.

If this sounds like you, you might be wondering how to recover — especially when you’re so busy.

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What are the consequences of leaving burnout unmanaged?

Ignoring burnout at work can make the situation even worse — in some cases, it can lead to serious job-related consequences.

Initially, you might feel physically and emotionally drained, struggling to muster the energy you need to complete your daily tasks. This persistent exhaustion can make it difficult to handle even simple tasks at work.

Burnout can also disrupt your ability to focus and be productive. When you try to push through it, you might find yourself making even more mistakes, missing deadlines, or producing low-quality work.

Emotionally, burnout can manifest as sadness, anger, irritability, or even a sense of apathy toward your job. These mood changes can alter your behavior and put a heavy strain on your professional relationships with clients, colleagues, and supervisors — potentially leading to conflicts that could have been avoided.

A person with multiple faces around them to reflect different moods

‎When left unchecked, burnout can reduce job satisfaction, increase absenteeism, and even push you out of your job entirely.

And it’s not only your current job that burnout can affect. It can also impact your overall career progression and job stability if you don’t manage it properly.

What if you’re burning out as a business owner?

Burnout is a challenge for anyone, but how do you recover when you’re the one steering the ship?

Burnout for business owners comes with its own challenges, including the following:

  • Constant pressure from managing all aspects of the business, from finances to operations
  • Decision fatigue, leading to mental exhaustion
  • Isolation due to a lack of a support network
  • Blurry boundaries between personal and professional life
  • Responsibility overload from maintaining both the business's success and employee well-being
  • Financial stress from maintaining profitability
  • Limited downtime due to constant business demands that make it difficult to take breaks or days off

With all this information, you might be wondering, “Can I recover from burnout?”

The answer is yes. Whether you’re running the business, leading a team, or simply feeling the pressure of your day-to-day workload as an employee, taking the eight steps to burnout recovery below can help you conquer this huge hurdle.

7 steps to recover from burnout

If you’re feeling burnt out, these simple steps can get you back on the road to balance and feeling like yourself again:

1. Acknowledge the symptoms of burnout you’re experiencing

First of all, you need to understand and acknowledge that you’re burned out. This can be scary, especially if you are in the middle of a particularly busy period and don’t want to admit you’re taking on too much.

Many who suffer from burnout struggle with some form of perfectionism. You might feel like how well you do in your career is tied to your value as a person. So, in this first step, allow yourself to be perfectly imperfect and admit that something needs to change.

Just because you’re burned out doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong, and you won’t lose traction if you have to take a breather. If anything, making changes now will help you improve your productivity in the long run.

2. Assess the causes of your burnout

If you want to create a recovery plan for yourself that works, then you need to determine the causes of your burnout so you can prevent them from reoccurring in the future.

Common causes of burnout include working too many hours, carrying too much responsibility instead of delegating, perfectionism, toxic client relationships, overdelivering, procrastinating, and no longer feeling as though the business you work for aligns with your purpose.

If you’re unsure of the exact causes of the burnout you’re experiencing, consider whether it could simply be the result of putting in too many hours.

Take a moment to write a list of all the things that cause you to feel overwhelmed or stressed or that keep you up at night. If you can’t think of them at the moment (or feel too overwhelmed to do so), try jotting them down over the next few days as you experience them.

An employee holding a boulder on their back with burnout causes listed

‎After you identify the specific causes of your burnout, you can develop a meaningful solution tailored to your needs.

3. Set boundaries

Define your work hours and communicate them clearly to management, friends, and family to help ensure you stick to them. Schedule regular breaks for yourself, too — and actually take them.

When possible, try to limit your availability for meetings and checking emails to set hours. For example, block out meeting availability in specific slots during the week, then time block for deep focus time.

Create a dedicated workspace and avoid working outside of it to maintain the separation between your work and personal life.

Finally, turn off work notifications outside of your designated work hours to avoid unnecessary distractions.

4. Engage in professional development

It might seem counterintuitive, but burnout can also come from feeling dissatisfied with your work overall. Stagnating in a role that no longer brings you purpose can make even the simplest of tasks seem burdensome. It could be time to reevaluate your career goals and take steps to advance in your career.

First, take a look at people in roles you wish you had. Look at what steps they took to get there. For example, are there any courses or training programs you can take to boost your skills to their level?

Sometimes, pulling back isn’t the best solution. Instead, looking ahead can offer that sense of renewal you need to get out of your slump.

5. Prioritize tasks

Learning to prioritize can be an absolute game-changer. If you’re reactive at work, responding to every demand at the moment, you’ll burn out much faster.

Each day, prioritize your most critical tasks so that you can be sure that you’re working on the most critical ones.

Use tools like the Eisenhower matrix to decide what needs to be done immediately and what can be planned for later — or even discarded.

Try a daily “Eat the Frog” ritual where you tackle your most urgent and important tasks first thing in the morning to get them over with. These strategies will keep you focused on what’s essential, leaving more space in your day for real focus.

6. Improve your work-life balance

Establish a morning routine to set a positive tone for your entire day, and stick to a regular sleep schedule to ensure you're always at your best, ready to tackle whatever the workday throws your way.

To boost your work performance and keep chronic stress at bay, consider weaving some nurturing habits into your daily life. Dive into hobbies that ignite joy in you. They can also help you unwind, reduce stress, and tackle work challenges with a fresh perspective.

Eat well and stay hydrated, too. This isn’t just good for your physical health; it also keeps your mind sharp and your energy level high, improving your focus at work.

Person sitting between two scales representing work on one side and life on the other

‎Spending quality time with friends and family strengthens your emotional support network, making you more resilient under pressure at work. Cultivating self-esteem through personal development boosts your confidence, empowering you to handle work-related stress more effectively.

Regular physical activities, like walking or cycling, not only refresh your body but also clear your mind, sparking creativity and improving your problem-solving abilities.

7. Lean on technology to enforce boundaries and streamline your workflow

Whether you're leading a team of 10 or flying solo, embracing task management and productivity apps can significantly lighten your workload.

Automate routine tasks to cut down on your daily to-do list, letting you focus on more strategic activities. Setting reminders to take regular breaks can prevent burnout and help keep your mind sharp.

Project management software is invaluable for delegating tasks and tracking progress, keeping projects on track without the need for constant check-ins. Additionally, cloud storage simplifies document access and sharing, ensuring you never waste time searching for information when you need it most.

Try out wellness apps, too; they're great for nudging you to move around and stay hydrated throughout the day. To help you manage your stress levels, meditation and relaxation apps can be your go-to tools for staying calm and centered.

Finally, make sure to enforce your boundaries by muting work-related notifications after hours, as this gives you the space to recharge fully. These simple tech tweaks can significantly improve your work life, making you more productive and relaxed.

By integrating these technologies, you can make your workday more efficient and less stressful.

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How long does it take to recover from burnout?

Your recovery time will depend on the severity of your burnout symptoms and personal circumstances.

If you're experiencing mild burnout, a few weeks of proper rest and stress management might suffice. For moderate burnout, consider dedicating several months to implementing lifestyle changes and seeking support to help you recover.

Commit to ongoing self-care and set clear boundaries to protect your well-being. The more you invest in yourself, the better you can be at your work.

Prevent burnout with Motion, your workload assistant

Recovering from burnout is a journey that requires self-awareness, deliberate action, and ongoing effort. By following the steps in this guide, you can regain your energy, productivity, and enthusiasm toward your work.

That said, why not prevent burnout from happening in the first place? This is where Motion comes in.

Motion is an AI-powered task management tool designed to help you prioritize your work and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

But don’t just take our word for it. Try Motion for free today!

Haylee Read
Haylee is a versatile writer with ten years of experience. With a background in marketing and writing for large SaaS companies, Haylee brings her passion for the written word to diverse projects ranging from blog posts and ebooks to direct marketing campaigns.
Written by Haylee Read