How burnout reduces productivity

It’s no shocker that burnout saps productivity. But you might be surprised to learn that your productivity is affected well before you hit burnout, and that it can show up in unexpected ways.

Snuffed candle

Image by Kaushik Narasimhan used with permission.

Your performance starts to tank long before you get to burnout

Research shows both performance and productivity drop with your mental well-being. The kicker? You don’t need to be in burnout to experience this. According to the study, the worse you feel about yourself, the bigger the negative impact on your performance. While not everyone who experiences a decline in their psychological state ends up in burnout, everyone in burnout first goes through a drop in their mental well-being (source).

You can become more easily distracted by distractions

When you’re tired, temptations like Facebook or emails become irresistible (source). When you’re in burnout, you’re super tired and often overwhelmed. You have big stress and looming deadlines. Oh look! A cute kitten. Ah, that feels so much better.

This “Cyberloafing” happens to the best of us, and starts well before we get to burnout. In fact, come the mid-afternoon slump, you may “come to” after having spent 10 minutes on Facebook without realizing that you had opened the app.

Your amped-up motivation might drive your burnout

The very things you did because of your seemingly boundless motivation can lead you to burnout. Who hasn’t been so excited and in love with a project that you put in extra hours and allow the work week to bleed into the weekends? It’s almost inevitable that you lose your motivation in these situations.

The more you work, the less productive you become

When you’re behind, you feel like you need to work more. But the more you work, it turns out, the less productive you are. “Employees who take a break every 90 minutes report a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who take no breaks or just one during the day.” They also feel more creative and healthier – both physically and mentally. “The more hours people work beyond 40 — and the more continuously they work — the worse they feel, and the less engaged they become” (source). Remember what happens when you start to feel crappy?

So what can you do?

You’re depleted. You’re exhausted. You don’t love your work. You feel like crap. And the more you push yourself, the slower you get. It’s a self-destructive loop. Might as well jump on Facebook. Or try these things out.

  1. Regularly monitor your well-being and make adjustments. Self-care plays a huge role in keeping you out of burnout. Here’s how to take you-time without feeling guilty.
  2. Take a walk in nature to lower stress hormones in your blood.
  3. Get a good night’s sleep to become smarter and more productive than you are with less sleep.
  4. Practice gratitude. Study participants reported getting better sleep, exercising more, and having lower stress levels.
  5. Take breaks during the day, even when it feels so wrong!

Take good care of you.

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