First, the obvious: No one is stoked to “lean in” to every challenge at work. It’s normal to sometimes feel down on the thing you do eight hours a day to pay rent and student loans. But it’s not so healthy to have a case of the Mondays everymorning (and afternoon, and evening…). Whether you decide to be more intentional in how you spend time away from the office or decide it’s time to start looking for another job, you can’t afford to ignore these six telltale signs that you’re speeding toward burnout at work.
1. Your mind is always on work.
It’s one thing to remember that you need to update the group presentation when you’re driving home in rush-hour traffic, or to scroll through your email while waiting in line at the grocery store. But Valerie Streif, senior advisor at career services firm Mentat, says work shouldn’t be all-consuming. Ditto if you’re working as productively as you can during the work day but feel guilty leaving unfinished items on your to-do list when you head out at night.
2. Cynicism is killing your motivation.
Feel like there’s no use pitching your idea because you already know how the higher-ups will answer? Maybe you’re so beat down that you’re doing juuustenough work not to get fired. “If you just need a break, don’t be afraid to use some vacation days for a little trip or time at home to unplug,” says Streif. “If it’s a deeper problem that stems from you not being content with your job and where you are in your professional life, it may be time to start looking for something new.”
3. Your relationships are suffering.
If you’re too exhausted after yet another grueling week to meet the girls for your standing Saturday yoga date, or you get pissed at your partner and release pent-up emotions you couldn’t unload during a day full of meetings, chill. When the people you love the most have become collateral damage because of your profession, check in with who and what deserves to be a priority. “Keeping relationships strong is so important for overall happiness. No job should take that away from you,” says Streif.
4. Even small tasks feel exhausting.
Not responding to emails because you just can’t muster the energy to deal with them? Continually procrastinating annoying but necessary tasks (ahem, expense reports) because their crushing monotony feels like too much to bear? Geoff Scott, career adviser and résumé expert at ResumeCompanion, says both scenarios are classic signs of burnout. “Try answering emails at a new time of day or relegate some items to the last hour of the workday,” says Scott. “This won’t work for everyone but mixing up your schedule can make ordinary tasks feel more fresh.”
5. You rely on coffee, alcohol, or sleep aids to deal.
Your morning latte or the occasional happy hour with coworkers is one thing, but if you’re guzzling gallons of coffee to get through the workday, turning to a nightly glass of wine (or three) to wind down, or relying on sleeping aids to tune out constant mental chatter about work at bedtime, you may have crossed that fine line between job stress and burnout. Talking to your boss about how to reallocate some items on your to-do list will help.
6. You’re completely drained at the end of the day.
Hitting the gym probably ranks high on your mental list of things you do not want to do after a grueling day, but Scott suggests doing some kind of physical activity you enjoy at least a few nights a week. “It’s a great way to give yourself more energy,” says Scott. “And a little physical activity goes a long way toward mental happiness.”