The following is an interview with Adam
Khan about job burnout:
Interviewer: Someone has
been at his job for years and enjoys what he's doing, yet ennui
does set in. Granted, every job is different, but is there something
he can do, some little trick, to keep the job interesting?
Adam: Yes, he could keep doing what hes
doing but find a new challenge in it. If hes a manager,
he could read a good book on management and concentrate on adding
a new level of sophistication in the way he deals with his employees,
while continuing to do everything else hes been doing.
This will make his job more difficult,
but if he doesnt try to add too much at once, the extra
challenge will make it more interesting, more engaging, more
absorbing (and more satisfying because improvement and growth
When the challenge is too high, the work
is stressful. When the challenge is too low, the work is boring.
The trick is to manage the challenge to keep it in the "just
right" range. (read
more about that here)
Interviewer: What are some
good ways to avoid burnout?
Adam: Spend more time thinking. This week, three times, either
go for a one-hour walk by yourself or sit in a room by yourself
for one hour and do nothing at all except think.
Most of us spend so much time doing tasks
or distracting ourselves with input we have a backlog of things
we need to think about. We need downtime, but not filled with
more things that take our attention, like skiing or watching
movies or talking with others. If you feel youre on your
way to burnout, you are desperately in need of thinking time.
It is best done alone and for periods longer than a half hour
at a time. If you feel you dont have time or space for
this, you need it badly.
It seems it would be terribly boring, but
after twenty minutes or so your mind will start to think and
sort things out, like a defrag for the mind. You cant do
a defrag while the computer is busy with something else. And
in the same way, you cant sort your thoughts while your
mind is occupied with anything else. Do your thinking where you
see nobody else and where you hear nobody else (including radio
or TV). (read
more about that here)
Americans are known as the hardest working people, yet we are
the most unsatisfied. Why do you think this is?
Adam: It seems old fashioned to say it,
but the source of the dissatisfaction is greed. Its
an ugly word, so maybe I should explain what I mean. We have
a built-in greed. Every parent sees it in their child and teaches
them to curb it. But it is only restrained. It does not go away.
We live in a society where anything is possible and so the greed
has room to express itself fully.
In an economy and society with more limits,
greed is curbed from the outside. In America, you have to curb
it yourself. Everywhere you look you have enticements for more.
Advertisers, of course, nurture your greed. If you dont
do anything about it, the society we live in the freedom,
the economic potential, the almost unlimited possibilities, and
the advertising will strengthen your greed and make you
perpetually disatisfied. (read
more about that here)
Interviewer: How does one
balance family with the workplace, considering some people work
60-80 hours a week.
Adam: Work less and watch less TV. Studies
show after basic survival is taken care of, more money doesnt
make people happier. Thats a fact. People who work too
much or work too hard in America are operating out of a mistaken
notion: That they need to have things they only prefer
Maybe you must work those extra hours to
keep your job. But you dont need that particular
job. But if you didnt have that job, you wouldnt
be able to afford your mortgage. But you dont need that
Sometimes you have to decide what is more
important to you: Making the maximum amount of money or having
close relationships. None of us gets any extra hours. You get
only so many per week and thats it. You cant have
it all. But you can be happy. I don't remember who said it, but
I like this quote: You can have anything you want, but you can't
have everything you want." (read more about that here)
Interviewer: Are there
any other Web sites/sources on this subject that I should pass
onto our male readers?
Adam: The best book Ive ever read
on this subject is called Timelock by Ralph Keyes. My second choice
would be Stress, Sanity, & Survival by
Woolfolk and Richardson. Men, in particular, should read Love and Survival by Dean Ornish. And also
I should mention the classic, Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin.