The end of a calendar year is a typical time when many people, including myself, experience burnout. An extended time working without a vacation, the stress of deadlines that go along with bringing the old year to a close, coupled with the busyness of the holiday season is more than enough to put us over the edge.
Burnout is best defined by how it makes you feel: exhausted (emotionally and/or physically), suddenly disinterested in your hobbies or career, cynical/moody, and less proud of your accomplishments. This combination of negative feelings takes a toll; you get stressed out more easily, you have to work much harder to attain the same results, and you might not be too much fun to be around!
How can you tell if you have burnout? Thankfully you won't experience all of the symptoms of burnout at once, but a few might sound familiar:
How did this happen? What is the cause of your burnout? Some causes of your burnout could be:
Any one of these is usually not an issue. It's when they begin to pile up that burnout strikes. In addition to the factors listed, if you are working in an organization that isn't aligned with your values, if you are in a job that doesn't fit your skillset or personality, or if there is a dysfunctional environment in the office, burnout comes much easier.
Recover from burnout by removing some of your stressors and managing your stress so you can return to your original productivity levels. For example, if you have a monotonous job, see if you can vary the order in which you complete your tasks, switch roles with someone once in a while, or complete work in rotating chunks. If meaningful changes absolutely cannot be made (and usually they can!), at the very least take the mental focus off your work by channeling your energy into pursuing a new or existing hobby.
Take time to deal with burnout. It needs to be just a temporary nuisance if you take steps to address it. Do it now so you can start off 2012 with renewed enthusiasm for your work and engagement in your daily life.