Ever feel like you’re incapable of finding your way out of a paper bag, let alone doing the basics of your job?  Or that you’re so exhausted you actually nod off in a business meeting?  Or that if one more client calls your cell phone after you’ve put in yet another too long day that you’ll scream?  It may be that you’re not incapable or exhausted or the busiest person in the world…it may be that you’re burning out.

Some obvious signs of burnout are having trouble sleeping; having no appetite…ever; and/or feeling negative or hopeless or sad or guilt ridden or self worthless.

Some less obvious signs of burnout can include unease or even repulsion when someone tries to talk with you; a loss of enjoyment in work or school or friends or family or something that you once loved to do; underperformance and/or chronic stress that hinders productivity.

Medically, Dr. Ruotsalainen, an expert and author on burnout, defines burnout as a type of psychological and physical stress that’s charged by exhaustion and lack of enthusiasm.  It’s often caused by work related situations (unchallenging work, high pressure environments, overly demanding expectations); life style situations (lacking supportive relationships and/or having insufficient sleep); and or personality traits (perfectionists, pessimists, control freaks).

An effective tool in tackling burnout is to use “The 5 Whys” technique developed by Sakichi Toyoda.  The 5 Why’s get to the root cause of burnout.

For example, a person might say that they’re burned out because of their job.  The 5 Whys might go this way…

  1. Why is the job causing you to be burned out?  Because it’s too stressful.
  2. Why is it stressful?  Because I have to write my listing presentation and it’s due tomorrow.
  3. Why is the presentation stressful?  Because I’ve never put one together before.
  4. Why is writing a presentation for the first time stressful?  Because I want to impress my broker (or client) and I don’t want to look stupid or fail their expectations of me.
  5. Why do you want to impress your broker/client?  Because I want to be able to get more listings so I can make more money so I’ll have more money when my second child is born in 6 months.

It turns out the stress or the burnout around the job is a disguise…the real stress is about having a feared financial burden of a second child, right?

So, get to the root cause of the burnout.  Tackle the burnout with a specific plan with specific tasks that will cut the burnout or stressful situation down to size. Maybe, just maybe, by accomplishing each step by step task in your plan, you might even be able to sleep better at night.