Ep. 35 – Addressing Work Burnout & Hustle Culture
What are our stressors at work that can lead to burnout and how can we manage them better? What impact does the hustle culture have on your productivity and wellbeing that leads to burnout? In the season finale, Mich Bondesio gets to the heart of the matter.
Any resources referenced in the episode are listed below the transcript.
Creating Cadence Transcript – Ep. 35
When it comes to work, are you always on and fire fighting in reactive mode, because that is what is expected of you?
In this episode I’m considering ways to address and prevent stress and burnout in workplace scenarios where the hustle culture dominates.
Hi and welcome to Creating Cadence – a podcast for life and work in motion.
I’m your host Mich Bondesio, a writer, speaker, coach and consultant. It’s my aim to help high achievers stuck on the treadmill of hustle culture to transform how they work. So that they can activate more of their potential and perform better in every part of their life.
This is episode 35, and the fifth and final episode of Season 6, recorded in July 2022.
This season I’m looking specifically at burnout, because it plays an important role in why Intentional Productivity is so crucial for our wellbeing. I delved into Intentional Productivity in Season 5 and it’s also the topic of the new book I’m writing.
So in the last episode I started sharing ways we can combat burnout and build better habits to prevent it from being so prevalent in our lives.
Today, I’m covering some work-specific thoughts and strategies to help you to be more productive whilst mitigating the stressors that contribute to burnout.
Any resources I’ve referenced in creating this episode can be found in the transcript at creatingcadence.co
So, if you’re ready, let’s dive in.
We combat burnout by changing what is within our locus of control. We do that by building strong foundations and addressing the causes of any chronic stress.
So in a workplace situation, whether you work on your own or with a team, it’s about changing how you work. Changing both the way that you work and the culture that affects your ability to work.
And building self-care foundations doesn’t just involve things you do at home or before work to support your health and wellbeing. It also includes the regular rituals and routines that support you in your work day.
This can include things like getting up from your desk regularly to move and stretch, helping your body stay strong and limber enough to sit at your desk day in and day out..
It can involve drinking enough water, monitoring your caffeine intake and replenishing your energy with helpful foods, to avoid putting undue stress on your body. So that you avoid the risk of things like dehydration, overstimulation and hangry sugar crashes which affect your focus, energy levels and behaviour.
Regular stress release activities include meditative and conscious breathing such as box breathing. Another powerful breathing technique is the physiological sigh, where you inhale twice before exhaling.
Doing that just three times can dramatically reduce how stressed you feel, as breathing is the quickest and fastest way to change your mental state and your physiology.
These may seem like small, inconsequential things, but when you do them regularly they build up over time to help you develop stronger foundations to support your health, wellbeing and productivity.
Next up, from a productivity perspective, what else can we do to combat or manage stress and burnout?
Your ability to focus your attention is finite. It takes a lot of energy and we have limited amounts of energy. And as I’ve already mentioned in earlier episodes of the podcast, studies have found that when we experience attention fatigue over and over, it contributes to burnout.
Attention fatigue can occur in a few different ways.
When we are working on computers we strain our eyes by focusing closely and sharply on our screens for long periods of time. This causes fatigue, so getting into the habit of regularly changing your focus and view, helps to relax and rest your eyes. That means looking away from your screen so that your eyes can adjust. Or regularly opening your visual field in your eye to include things on the periphery of your view, not just being laser focused on the emails that are directly front of you.
When we are always on and fire fighting in reactive mode for hours on end, our attention is overused. And overwork has become normalized in our working culture.
So, to manage your attention you also need to set boundaries around how you use it. If you have any degree of autonomy over how you work that means managing your time online, managing your time in meetings and managing your clients and or employers expectations of how you work, when you’re available and being clear about what outputs are humanly and reasonably possible from you any given day or week.
- How can you manage your workload better?
- Can you time block your tasks?
- Can you reserve time for deep work, time offline, and workplace self care?
- Can you plan ahead for how to handle busy times?
Get to know your energy cycles every day, so you that you know when it’s time to stop or switch tasks, before you feel too frazzled.
What is realistic and possible within the confines of your work parameters. Get creative about your solutions.
There are also other ways to combat burnout at work by tackling those things that may feel outside of our control.
The hustle culture and the normalizing of overwork are root contributors to burnout.
The hustle mindset is focused on the pursuit of more at any cost. And keeping up with it puts a lot of pressure on our cognitive load and physical resilience.
As mentioned in episode 33, this culture is also turning us into insecure overachievers. We experience productivity dismorphia because we feel little sense of achievement for the fruits of our labours, so we try to work harder to get that sense of achievement. And that vicious cycle of overwork continues.
So another we way we combat burnout is to stand up against overwork.
We need to be realistic about our physical and mental capabilities and make space in our day for rest and recovery. Listen to episode 34 for specific ways you can do that.
And drawing on that notion of an unsupportive hustle culture, consider how it plays out within your specific workplace?
When there is a lack of congruency between our internal values and beliefs and the expectations related our work, it causes stress.
When we don’t feel seen, acknowledged, valued or appreciated in our work roles or our work community, by our bosses or peers, it causes stress.
When there’s always so much work to do that we feel constantly overwhelmed, it causes stress.
And when we don’t feel equipped with the necessary professional, practical, physical or emotional skills to complete our work, it causes stress.
And when all of this stress accumulates and doesn’t abate because these situations don’t change, we reach a point an inflection point where burnout is inevitable.
So what’s happening in your own workplace, and with your customers and clients?
The World Health Organisation’s recommendations for preventing burnout focus on creating psychological safety, dependability, structure, and clarity within our work and workplaces. And they suggest helping us connect with a deeper sense of meaning and impact in the work that we do.
If you are an entrepreneur or solopreneur, like me, we’re responsible for creating the ideal environment for supporting these elements. So what’s lacking in your own workplace and what can you change?
But even if you’re an employee in someone else’s business, you can still make change. Don’t be afraid to raise awareness within your organisation about negative working practices.
Flipping the script to put wellbeing at the centre of how we work is now becoming a non-negotiable.
Identify the underlying cultural issues and flag them to raise awareness. Consider ways you can take action on making change. What are the simple steps that will make it easier to improve your work styles and work culture? What recommendations can you put forward to the decision makers in your organisation?
And if you really want to make change and live and work in a more supportive and meaningful way, and your employer is not willing to listen, then my potentially controversial advice is : get another job.
Go where you will be valued. Find people you can work with who understand the importance of wellbeing at work.
So a couple of final thoughts before we wrap up this season.
We often think we are Superman and Wonder Woman, until suddenly we are not. Having strong foundations helps us to deal with life and work when we’re regularly facing a landscape filled with kryptonite.
The best way to do this is to create a toolkit of self-regulatory practices that you can call on in times of need.
Self-reflection is the first step in breaking the cycle of burnout.
Think about which factors and contributors to burnout you have control over in your life and work?
Think about your workload, and whether you have autonomy over how you work, how connected you are to your community, and whether you feel like your work connects with your values and your sense of fairness.
What are the negative habits and behaviours that you engage in when you are burning out that perpetuate the cycle?
There is always another way to do things. So think what can you change?
I also challenge you to put wellbeing at the centre of your business. How can you make it a core pillar of how you work, for your particular situation. Not only does it support you better, it will also differentiate your business.
As I mentioned in the last episode, getting better at preventing and managing stress and burnout, all boils down to being more intentional about how you live and work. It’s all connected.
Being more productive is about more than just getting more done. And getting better at burnout is about more than just improving your self care. And there are no quick fixes.
It requires a considered, long-term, intentional approach. But this is an opportunity to design a life that helps you to stay strong, to work better, to have healthier relationships and live a more meaningful live overall.
I’m not sure about you, but for me that sounds far more appealing than the way most of us are trying to live and work right now.
I hope you’ve found this season of the podcast helpful.
For the next season, I’m experimenting with something slightly different.
If you’re a long-time listener, you may recall that in September 2021, I did a season focusing on the rise of web3, the metaverse and all the interesting technologies that support it.
I’m heading back there again, this time to interview people who are involved in projects that use this technology. In particular I’m interested to know how they are leveraging Augmented Reality, NFTs and Tokenization as part of how they are developing products and services and supporting their wellbeing.
We can all learn something valuable from how they are using these technologies to do business both now and in the future.
So, season 6 will launch in September once me, my newsletter and my podcast have taken a sabbatical over summer for a good dose of rest and recovery. Taking this annual break from content production is part of my own intentional productivity practices.
And in preparation for September, if you’re not already signed up to the fortnightly newsletter, please do so at creatingcadence.co/subscribe.
And you’re welcome to drop me a line with your questions or comments, please write to email@example.com
So, thanks for listening. Until next time, be brave in making change, be open to new things and keep moving forwards, one step at a time.
Bye for now.
Tech Workers & Burnout (Silicon Republic)
Burnout: The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle (Emily & Emilia Nagoski)