6 Strategies to Prevent Burnout at Work

Elmeri Palokangas
June 12, 2023
min read
September 19, 2023
Photo credit
Prevent burnout at work by setting boundaries, taking breaks, prioritizing tasks and seeking support from colleagues and managers.
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In today's fast-paced work culture, it's easy to get caught up in the constant hustle.

Sure, we all feel the pressure at work sometimes, but it's important to take a step back and assess if you're headed toward burnout.

With heavy workloads, tight deadlines and high expectations, it's no wonder that burnout has become an all-too-common occurrence for many professionals.

Wellness has a direct impact on both the business and the employees. Companies with engaged employees are:

These are just a few reasons why it's important to pay attention to the wellness of employees and notice the early signs of burnout.

So, what can you do to improve things?


  • Burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged chronic stress.
  • Burnout can be caused by working long hours, lack of control, lack of support, unclear expectations, and poor workplace culture.
  • Prevent burnout by creating boundaries, managing time effectively, balancing workload, taking breaks, practicing self-care, and using productivity tools.
  • Prioritizing tasks, breaking work into manageable chunks, setting realistic deadlines, and taking breaks are essential to reducing stress at work.

This article will help you:

  • Define burnout.
  • Recognize its signs and symptoms.
  • Give you six strategies you can implement to help reduce burnout and feel better at your workplace.

Before we go into the strategies, let's start by defining burnout.

What is burnout?

(Source: Abbie Bernet)
Burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged chronic stress. Burnout is caused by feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained and unable to meet constant demands.

It's a type of chronic stress that can leave you feeling emotionally exhausted, unmotivated and devoid of hope.

It can affect anyone, regardless of their profession or life circumstances.

The good news? Burnout is treatable, and with the right tools and support, you can get back on the path to feeling better than ever.

đź“Ś Related reading: 3 Ways to Get into Flow at Work

Burnout vs. stress: what's the difference?

Burnout isn't the same as stress. Stress is a normal response to challenging situations, whereas burnout is a chronic state of stress that has become overwhelming and unmanageable.

Burnout doesn't happen after one bad day; it's a gradual process that can build up over time.

While burnout can feel paralyzing, good stress can have benefits, such as improved cognitive function, increased resiliency, and faster workers.

It's essential to recognize the signs of burnout and take steps to prevent it, such as taking breaks, seeking support, and practicing self-care outside of work.

5 Symptoms of burnout

A study done by Zippia reported that 89 percent of Americans have suffered from burnout within the past year. When asked what symptoms they experienced, they reported the following:

  • Physical fatigue (44%).
  • Cognitive weariness (36%).
  • Emotional exhaustion (32%).
  • Lack of interest (26%).
  • Lack of effort (19%).

And what was the number one cause? Work.

Let's look more closely at the five symptoms of burnout.

1. Physical health

Burnout can affect your physical health in a variety of ways:

  • Fatigue.
  • Headaches.
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
  • Digestive issues such as nausea or stomach pain.

2. Cognitive issues

Burnout can make it difficult to concentrate on tasks. You may be easily distracted or have difficulty making decisions.

If you're experiencing memory problems or finding it difficult to focus on tasks that require mental effort, burnout may be the cause.

3. Feeling exhausted & drained most of the time

The feeling of exhaustion and being drained of energy is a common sign of burnout. Common symptoms include not having enough energy to get through the day or feeling tired, even after a good night’s sleep.

4. Feeling detached & cynical about work

It may be a sign of burnout if you’re constantly feeling detached and cynical about your work. If you feel like you’re just going through the motions and nothing you do will make a difference, it could be burnout.

5. Feeling ineffective & unable to meet demands

Burnout can cause a feeling of being ineffective and unable to meet the demands or expectations of your job. You may feel like you’re constantly falling short of your work demands and not progressing. This can cause a lot of frustration and leave you feeling helpless and unmotivated.

5 causes of burnout at work

At the workplace, burnout can be caused by a variety of factors. While it differs from workplace to workplace, there are some common similarities.

1. Working long hours

Working long hours is one of the reasons why many nurses experienced burnout in 2020. When people are constantly overloaded with work and feel like they cannot keep up, they can become stressed and frustrated.

This can lead to burnout, particularly if they feel like they are not making any progress or achieving any results.

2. Lack of control

A feeling of lacking control can be caused by not having the power to decide or make changes at work.

When people can't choose what they do or how they do it, they can become unhappy and unmotivated. This lack of control can cause feelings of powerlessness and eventually burnout.

3. Lack of support

91 percent of workers have reported that their bosses lack good communication skills.

Being in an environment where you don't feel supported or valued can take a toll on your mental health.

If leaders aren't recognizing employee effort and giving helpful feedback, this can lead to employee burnout.

4. Unclear expectations

Not knowing what is required or expecting too much from yourself can be big causes of burnout.

It’s hard to be in the dark about what you need to do, or not if your goals are being met. This can be very stressful and impact your mental and emotional well-being.

5. Poor workplace culture

An unhealthy work environment can cause a lot of stress and lead to burnout. Sitting in an office with constant negative energy can lead to feeling disconnected, exhausted, and uninspired is easy.

An excessive focus on competition, overwork and harsh criticism often characterizes toxic work environments.

How can I prevent burnout at work?

Here are 6 strategies you can use to prevent burnout at work:

  1. Create boundaries
  2. Manage your time effectively
  3. Balance your workload
  4. Take breaks
  5. Practice self-care
  6. Use productivity tools

Let's explore how you can create a healthier, more productive work environment.

1. Create boundaries

woman walking on road
(Source: Anika Huizinga)
Creating boundaries is the first step to preventing burnout. It means drawing a line between your work and personal life and setting limits in terms of how much work you are willing to do and when.

Creating boundaries can mean simple changes like:

  • Not responding to emails outside of work. When you leave the office for the day, it’s over.
  • Don't take on extra hours or new projects when you are already overworked. It’s okay to say "no" if you can't handle more work.
  • Limiting the use of technology when you are on vacation or off duty. Giving yourself a break means you can come back refreshed and ready to work.

Giving yourself time to rest, relax and rejuvenate can help you make the most of the time you spend in the office.

2. Manage your time effectively

(Source: Timely)
Time management is important when it comes to avoiding burnout.

Creating a schedule and sticking to it will help you stay on track with your work tasks and allow you to plan for leisure activities and relaxation in between them.

The Eisenhower Matrix is a system that can help you organize your time by sorting tasks based on urgency and importance. The four quadrants are:

  • Important + Urgent: Tasks that need to be done immediately.
  • Important + Not Urgent: Tasks that are important but don't have a deadline.
  • Not Important + Urgent: Things that can be delegated or outsourced.
  • Not Important + Not Urgent: Activities or tasks that can be eliminated altogether.

By evaluating the urgency and importance of tasks, you can organize how you spend your time each day.

3. Balance your workload

Balancing your workload effectively is one of the keys to cultivating wellness at work.

If you have a large project or task that is due soon, make sure not to overload yourself with other tasks.

Small changes can help, like:

  • Delegating or outsourcing tasks when possible.
  • Setting priorities and sticking to them.
  • Creating a to-do list with realistic deadlines.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to lessen your workload.

4. Take breaks during the day

(Source: Kaylah Matthews)
No one can be productive 100 percent of the time. It's not just possible. Taking short breaks can you recharge and come back ready to tackle your to-do list:
  • Take a quick walk.
  • Make yourself a cup of tea.
  • Meditate for five minutes.
  • Enjoy your lunch.
  • Talk with someone.
  • Read an article.
  • Do a puzzle.

You may ask, "What's the optimal break time?"

A productivity app DeskTime did a study and found that the best-performing employees take 17 minutes out of every 52 minutes to just take a break.

So that's a 52:17 balance for work and break.

The concept is that for the 52 minutes you work, you are totally devoted to your work.

If you want to avoid burnout at work, you can try the 52:17 ratio or something like it throughout your day. Get away from your computer and let yourself reset for a moment.

5. Practice self-care

(Source: Jenna Day)
Self-care is essential for preventing burnout. Especially outside of work, make sure to take time for yourself and do something that relaxes you or brings you joy.

This can mean things like:

  • Walk in nature.
  • Read a book.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Take an online course to learn something new.
  • Go for a swim.
  • Do yoga or exercise.
  • Meditate.
  • Call a friend.

Regularly scheduling self-care activities into your day is a great way to prevent burnout. Set aside time each day or week for something special for yourself and make sure you stick to it.

6. Use productivity tools

Automating tedious tasks and managing your time with productivity tools can help you work better so you can focus on more important tasks. Streamlining your business processes can save time and help you feel less stressed.

There are many free productivity tools out there The best one (in our humble opinion) is Scribe.

Scribe is an AI-powered productivity solution that helps employees work more efficiently and optimize business processes to reduce workload and stress. Scribe documents any business process and turns it into a step-by-step guide.

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Scribe can be used for:

  • Documenting company guides and manuals.
  • Simplifying the onboarding process.
  • Creating templates for standard tasks.
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‎Automating your processes means less time wasted on manual work—giving you the chance to work more effectively.



Avoiding burnout and decreasing stress at work is vital to your success and well-being.

Ready to work smarter, not harder? With Scribe, you can work more efficiently, streamline your processes and reduce your workload. Sign up for Scribe's free Basic Plan or Pro Plans today.

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