- 11 Jan 2023
Tried-and-tested ways to avoid burnout in digital roles
With the new year in full swing, people working in digital have returned to their screens to conquer this year’s strategies. However, January also brings Blue Monday — supposedly the most depressing day of the year. The weather is gloomy, the days are short, credit card bills from December are starting to pile up, and spring is still a long way off. It’s easy to see why this time of year can be a challenging time for workers in all sectors.
While a career in a fast-paced sector like digital can be very rewarding, it does involve a lot of screentime, which for some people can exacerbate those January blues and make it harder to stay motivated. So, our Head of Marketing, Jen Macdonald has put together some tips and tricks that you can try to avoid burnout during the first month of 2023.
Upgrade your to-do list
Do you often find yourself overwhelmed by the state of your to-do list in the morning? If so, try changing the way you plan your day to help you build up to those stressful tasks. Instead of just writing a list of everything you need to do, grade the difficulty and length of each of your assignments, and prioritise handling smaller tasks first thing. It’s thought that starting with quick and simple tasks builds momentum and engages your brain to focus on more difficult, time-consuming activities later on.
If you are stressed about a particular to-do, it’s OK to postpone it and get on with something else for an hour or two. It is often easier to be inspired once you revisit something after a short break. It can also help to break an anxiety-inducing task into smaller segments to get through the workload.
Next, I want to discuss the importance of positive reinforcement. Many businesses put initiatives in place to motivate their workers, including company awards or gift vouchers. And while these are lovely rewards to receive, everyone has different incentives that boost their endorphins and make them happy.
After you have achieved something at work, no matter how big or small, allow yourself a few minutes to do something that makes you happy. Not only will this re-energise you for your next task, but it will also allow you to maintain a healthy balance of screen time.
For me, when I have successfully completed a mammoth task, I like to take my dog for a ten-minute walk. This gets me out into the fresh air and away from my laptop, preparing me for my next to-do. For you, it could be something as simple as rewarding yourself with a cup of tea or snack, for bigger tasks you might allow yourself ten minutes to chat with a colleague about something that’s not related to work.
This tip can be interpreted in many ways; however, the point is to keep your mind focused on the task at hand with simple preparations.
If you’re working from home, I’d suggest turning your phone onto silent or ‘do not disturb’ mode, letting partners, kids or family members know you are concentrating for the next couple of hours, and getting everything you need in front of you before settling in for a solid spell of uninterrupted work. If you’re struggling to tune out distractions, why not try one of TikTok’s latest trends: brown noise? This is a type of deep and low-frequency background noise — imagine the sound of a roaring river or strong wind — that is thought to drown out distractions and help you focus on the task at hand. Fans of brown noise claim that it helps to boost productivity and concentration, and some even argue that it’s more effective than white noise.
If you’re working from an office, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by distractions. During busy periods, try to enhance your workspace by moving to a quiet area of the office, booking out a meeting room or moving away from chatty colleagues. Invest in some noise-cancelling headphones, turn off email notifications for an hour or two, and stay hydrated (with water as opposed to caffeinated drinks).
Having your efforts and results validated by your co-workers can be highly rewarding, and can provide you with an extra dose of motivation to get you through those tough projects. So, it’s well worth finding ways to recognise and reward good work within your company.
Here at Glass Digital, our Outreach team hosts a short weekly call in which everyone can nominate a team member who has contributed something exceptional that week, whether it’s finding a solution to a tricky problem, or going above and beyond for their colleagues. Our Content team also take a moment on Friday afternoon to share any example of great copywriting that their teammates have written during the week. This is a simple but effective way to show your team members that their work matters and it is being recognised. So, try to implement this in your own working week, even if it’s just taking a few minutes to provide positive feedback on something your colleagues have achieved that week.
Once you have told a co-worker something good about themselves, do the same for yourself. Tell your team one thing that you are proud of yourself for that week, again no matter how simple that task might have been. It is often difficult to recognise your own good work, especially when imposter syndrome kicks in, but acknowledging your achievements can give you a motivating confidence boost.
Give yourself permission to log off
Finally, it can be easy to continue working until a task is complete or all your to-do list is marked off, however this is one of the biggest culprits of burnout. When your workday is over, make sure you acknowledge this and stick to it by logging off completely for the night. It is ok to allow yourself time to rejuvenate after a hard day at work, and excess overtime is not worth the stress, anxiety, and burnout it could cause you in the long run.
Switching off for the day can be especially hard while working remotely because there’s no physical distance between the office and home, and it can be all too easy to work late when you don’t have a train or bus to catch. To counter this, I suggest setting an alarm around 20–30 minutes before your workday ends. Then, you can wrap up your current activities and finish off simple tasks before the end of the day.
If you struggle to switch off mentally when working from home, try to do something to take your mind off work as soon as you clock off. This could be going for a short walk to recreate your commute, having a relaxing shower or bath, chilling out with a yoga flow, or even hitting the gym. This will allow you to stop thinking about work and ensures you’re getting enough rest and rejuvenation overnight, so you can hit the ground running when you return to your laptop the next morning.
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