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Give Me a Break: Tips to Reduce Burnout
Ride the teeter-totter of a healthy work-life balance.
By: Heidi Pesterfield
It’s okay for practice leaders to love their jobs and be passionate about their work, but they cannot do it 24/7. Instead, they must learn how to balance work with outside interests so work doesn’t completely dominate their lives. Those who don’t, typically find themselves on the superhighway to career burnout. When work and personal time is balanced, it becomes more likely that physicians, managers, and clinicians will not only enjoy their work, but they will excel at it, too.
Establishing Work-Life Balance
Here are several tips for practice leaders who want to create an increased sense of equilibrium between their careers and their personal lives:
Engage in efficient time management during work hours. It is great to be enthusiastic about work, but to maintain a healthy work-life balance, it is important to make every effort to complete work during office hours to avoid bringing it home. The better the team member’s work management skills, the easier this will be. Making to-do lists, prioritizing, creating work plans, avoiding procrastination, delegating, and setting aside time to work without disruptions are tools some use to manage their office time more efficiently.
Don’t blur the lines between work and leisure. It’s never optimal for practice leaders to bring work home with them. Unfortunately, though, it happens. If not handled carefully, working at home can easily upset the work-life balance. Those who occasionally work remotely can attest to this. Tips for effectively working at home include the following:
1) Set aside a specific timeframe for work;
2) During the designated timeframe, focus only on work;
3) Isolate oneself from family members and turn off all personal phone lines to avoid distractions;
4) When designated time is up, stop and transition back into leisure time.
Make personal health a priority. Practice leaders who exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and take time to relax outside of work are bound to reap the benefits of these healthy lifestyle choices in everything they do, including work. This cannot be overemphasized; the mind-body connection has been established in studies too numerous to list. When the body is healthy, the mind generally follows, giving way to increased focus, improved mental and emotional health, and the ability to meet personal and career challenges with fortitude and balance.
Indulge in a hobby. Cultivating a personal interest or indulging in a hobby outside the office can tip the scales in favor of a more balanced lifestyle for even the most career-driven individual. Whatever the hobby—fly fishing, golf, gardening, woodworking, playing a musical instrument, photography—doing it regularly can provide a sense of personal satisfaction that leaves most practice leaders ready to put their best foot forward when the next work day arrives.
Manage free time wisely. Creating a healthy work-life balance is easier if free time is managed with the same intention and tools with which work time is managed. Practice leaders who are unsatisfied after their days off might find they are devoting too much of their free time to the wrong activities and/or the wrong people. Or, perhaps they are biting off more than they can realistically chew. Remember, it is impossible to do everything. When personal activities are prioritized, it becomes clear how free time should be spent, and individuals can then begin carving out regular habits that support these activities.
Take a break. Getting away from one’s work space—even for a few minutes—can do wonders for morale and can help reenergize and inspire driven team leaders. Physicians, managers, and clinicians should take advantage of their break time to step outside for some fresh air or, at minimum, mingle with coworkers or staff for a few minutes. Those who do often discover that getting up and moving around helps provide the necessary balance they need to avoid burnout. It also gives them an opportunity to reach out and connect with colleagues and staff.
Set targets in personal life. Being passionate about setting and achieving work goals and objectives is what makes physicians, managers, and clinicians effective. But do these practice leaders take the same interest in setting goals in their personal lives? Those who can answer this question affirmatively probably struggle less with work-life balance than others. Those who are driven at work but are passive in their personal lives run the risk of feeling as if their jobs have somehow robbed them of something. This is a glaring sign of imbalance. Once this is recognized and more energy is funneled into personal goals, these individuals are likely to feel more satisfied at both work and home.
Maintain friendships outside of the workplace. There is nothing wrong with being friends with work associates and socializing with them outside the workplace. That’s normal. However, the natural tendency in such friendships is for the conversation continuously to drift toward work topics. This can result in a disproportionate amount of personal time and energy being focused on work. For those with robust work friendships, it’s helpful to create agreements to avoid too much “shop-talk.” It is also a good idea to balance those relationships with other friendships.
A Marked Improvement
There’s nothing wrong with being devoted to one’s job, but for that relationship to be maximized, it is important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Busy physicians, managers, and clinicians looking to do a better job at this are likely to improve their current relationship to work by utilizing the tips provided in this article. Once a good sense of balance is achieved, these practice leaders are sure to notice a marked improvement in both their work lives and their personal lives.