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Thread: Overcoming work place burnout

  1. #1
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    Overcoming work place burnout

    HELP

    Up until maybe 6 months ago I loved showing up to work. Don't get me wrong I still like what I do on a day to day basis but my morel (morale) and the morel (morale) of others in the office seem to be waaay low.

    I wake up everyday relaxed and ready to plan another community, then I walk into the office and I lose all motiviation, I feel tired, cranky with my coworkers and overall just burnedout.

    I have been at my current job for almost 6 years, have gotten average or above averages pay adjustments, get okay benifits and it is only a short drive from home, yet I have found myself starting to look for a new job, then question whether that is the right thing to do.

    HELP How can I overcome this lack of motivation and burnout feeling?
    Last edited by PlannerByDay; 16 Feb 2004 at 4:26 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Talk to your supervisor if you can. Maybe you can rotate assignments with someone else, maybe job shadow a peer and cross train doing "something else". Variety never hurts!

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    I am in the same boat, so I just decided that the only way to deal with it is to look for a new job.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    :-P

    Quote Originally posted by PlannerByDay
    the morel of others
    Mmmm...





    What are these morels you speak of?!

    Who do they belong to and why do they have them so early in the season?!


  5. #5
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas?
    :-P
    Mmmm...

    What are these morels you speak of?!
    Who do they belong to and why do they have them so early in the season?!
    Thanks Wangis,

    See. I'm so burned out I can't even spell.

    I cant even concentrate and if you could look into my ear and see my brain it just might look like that.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    find a new hobby to look fwd to doing after work...
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  7. #7
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by GeogPlanner
    find a new hobby to look fwd to doing after work...

    I have many hobbies, and that may be my problem. All I do is day dream about what I'm going to do after work because I am not motivated to do anything at work but cyburbia and other internet websites.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    What Chet said.

    I have never been disappointed in going to a boss and saying "Give me something new to do". Of course, this wouldn't work in a really tiny jurisdiction. Even better is to tell the boss just what you DO want to do: "I'll train the new guy.". "I'll start presenting the cases while you watch." "I'll do a program manual for our team." All I had to do last week was ask how a state funding program worked and now I'm assigned to a project manager to be immersed in the topic.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I can empathize. I still love my work, but find that other things in the workplace are preventing me from being effective or enjoying it. The city council is leaderless and has no vision. The plan board is new and lacks insight or backbone. The city administrator is running for cover. The other department managers are fed up and we are all saddled with too much work and too little resources. My assistant is incompetent and no help to me at all. Sigh. If I don't get out from this situation, is it going to affect my feelings to the profession I love? I won't be taking that chance. If they don't change, I leave.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I feel your pain and hopefully will be curing it after next week.

    The other thing that may have contributed to my burnout is that I just found out I have 13 unused vacation days from last year. I had 19 to use, so I spent way too much time at work last year. Maybe a vacation, away from work and the town /juridiction you live in would help.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Floridays's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess
    What Chet said.

    I have never been disappointed in going to a boss and saying "Give me something new to do". Of course, this wouldn't work in a really tiny jurisdiction. Even better is to tell the boss just what you DO want to do: "I'll train the new guy.". "I'll start presenting the cases while you watch." "I'll do a program manual for our team." All I had to do last week was ask how a state funding program worked and now I'm assigned to a project manager to be immersed in the topic.
    I agree! Whenever I feel "burned out," I ask for something to do, whether it be helping on someone else's project or doing some research, etc. There are so many aspects of planning, that it helps to learn something new all of the time. For example, I knew NOTHING about mass transit, but when I asked, my boss gave me an assignment to research what other communities were doing in this area. I not only learned a lot, but had the oppportunity to talk to several other planners. Networking never hurts!

  12. #12
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    I feel your pain and hopefully will be curing it after next week.

    The other thing that may have contributed to my burnout is that I just found out I have 13 unused vacation days from last year. I had 19 to use, so I spent way too much time at work last year. Maybe a vacation, away from work and the town /juridiction you live in would help.
    Yaah, always use all your vacation days.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  13. #13

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    Donk: take your vacation! take it now! Go somewhere warm and sit in the sun for a while, then start walking, windsurfing, kayaking, or whatever it takes to forget work.

    I have been through really severe burn-out, and the only remedy I found was hard physical activity, although diet helps, too, and if I ever get there again I will try massage therapy. I think the roots of burn-out are in the mind-body connection.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I am taking a week off to "veg out" before I move/start my new job. I am really happy I have the money coming to me from those vacation days or I would be in a bit of a bind right now.

    I've learned my lesson. A day off here and there is not enough and statutory holidays or holidays where you have lots of expections placed on you don't count as vacation days.

    Never again will I allow myself to degrade to the level I have.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  15. #15
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    I was getting really burnt and stressed.. and I have only been working at this job for a year and a half... but now I commute in the NYC Metro ratrace....75mph down tight roads... etc.

    I took a week off to just catch up... and I am back to work feeling a little better. I was lucky... because I only had to take 3 days off to get a week and a day off, thanks to 2 holidays and a flex day off.

    Although here I sit... now dreaming of other things and trying to get into the groove again.
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

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  16. #16
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Just saw it on my check...

    I have 144 hours of vacation.

    18 days... Almost 4 weeks. Can I use it? No... I can't get that far behind. Do be careful what you wish for, as you may get it. On my project list?

    - Build an amphitheater
    - Reconstruct the water system
    - Prepare a capital improvement plan for fleet and buildings
    - Fix the levy (.8 mil project)
    - Rebuild 5 blocks of a local street
    - New comp plan
    - Tons of code amemndments
    - Two trail grants
    - Highway beautification project
    - Community Center design project

    I could go on... and on... My burn-out comes from having TOO much to do, and constantly switching gears.
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess
    I have never been disappointed in going to a boss and saying "Give me something new to do".
    however, i would not suggest such an approach when the source of the burnout is TOO much workload b/c you don't have the staff to cover after losing positions i have to find a way to implement 2 new programs this year while the work piles up from what we already have...

    maybe i should get back to work and off cyburbia for a bit, eh? actually...i'm on lunch...
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  18. #18

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    Mastiff, et al. When I swtiched from being a local planner to academia, I went from working 60+ hours a week, every week, to working 50+ hours for 10 months. My productivity soared, and I got more done in ten months than I ever dreamed of doing in 12! I forgot that lesson later on and it cost me big. Take your days judiciously, but take them. You will get it all done, and better.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Here is what I do to prevent getting too burned out…

    1. If you are permitted break time… Take it, not in the office, but walk out side… even if it is only 10 min, you can walk a block, and back in less than 10 min.

    2. If you can pick what time you are going to go out and do any field work, check the forecast and find the sunniest time, and pick that time to go out.

    3. Get a radio for your desk, and put it on to something that makes you feel good… (keep it low incase it is not what others want to hear)

    4. Eat well, and always have a glass of water at your desk, when you start to feel board take a sip… it is crazy but it works.

    5. For me, my existing job is a lot like reading a textbook in college… it is not exactly what I want to do, but I always remember that it IS A STEP towards where I want to be.

    6. Could be worse, you could be in Reading PA!
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  20. #20
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Bump

    I am going to bump this and mention that my tips don’t work after two years…

    The past few months, I have started to feel burnt out at work. I don’t think that it is because of doing both work and class since it is kind of a light load this semester. I have also limited my volunteering time. I get up in the morning and I don’t have the same kind of excitement that I once had. I try to get excited about work, I come in early, try to be pro-active, and take on new projects, but it does not help.

    Any tips on how to get pumped up and excited about work and every thing would be appreciated.

    Also I don’t get to take time off right now because I am saving it up for summer.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  21. #21
         
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    I am completely burned out here, have been for quite some time...its just difficult for me to take a new job. It may require moving and/or a pay cut...so that isn't really an option. Personally I have asked for LESS to do, leave work at the office and go home at 5 every night I can. Things are starting to feel better, I think I just needed to remove my head from the politics and all the other crap around here. I also really need to use my vacation time but feel so damn guilty using it for me to have personal days when I need it for the boys spring break and school holidays that I don't have off...anyway, thats another thread entirely.
    I guess "jumping" more into your job is one way to help burnout but sometimes I think you need to just step back mentally and the motivation will come back...

  22. #22
    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    Sometimes it is simply time for a change. It doesn't mean you can't focus or aren't trying, or the current job is bad, it's just time for a change.

    When I felt that way about a year ago, I went to a career counselor. She helped me define goals to decide if I just wanted a new job, or wanted to change my career a little. She helped me set up information interviews to get info that would help me decide what I would do with the rest of my life. I'd recommend it highly to anyone at any stage in their career.

    Explore. Nothing wrong with needing a change. Maybe an change in your role as a planner, a new locality, a more challenging position?

  23. #23
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CosmicMojo
    Sometimes it is simply time for a change. It doesn't mean you can't focus or aren't trying, or the current job is bad, it's just time for a change.

    SNIP

    Explore. Nothing wrong with needing a change. Maybe an change in your role as a planner, a new locality, a more challenging position?

    There is something that I am exploring that I am waiting at the moment. On the other hand if it does not happen, I have limited options at the moment since there is nowhere to move up at this point in time with my current employer. Additionally, I would have to pay a % back of what they paid for Grad School if I did leave within a year of finishing each semester.

    I know exactly where I want to go, what I want to do, and what I want to accomplish. (And no, the code enforcement work that I am doing now is not in my goals.) But a year or so from right now, I will be better suited than I am now. By then I will have my AICP and be finished with my Masters program.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  24. #24

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    A) Maybe saving vacation for summer isn't the right choice. Maybe you need to get on a plane and go see a spring training game in Tucson or something. It is possible (personal experience speaking here) to get so burned that the vacation you are waiting for doesn't do you any good when it comes. Remember too that it is perfectly legit to use sick leave for mental health if you are otherwise in good shape and not apt to use it for physical problems. In fact, if your boss sees you burning out, he/she has an obligation to throw you out the door for a change.
    B) Changing your exercise regime might help. I believe you have said you work out, so the lack of motion probably isn't the problem per se, but maybe you need to swtich things around in that area. Play volleyball instead of going to the gym or what not. If you can't get variety at work, maybe you can bring it into some other aspect of your life.
    C) Be sure you are staying hydrated. Simple, but if you aren't it definitely does contribute to depression. Also, how much sugar are you eating? Even if what you are eating is basically healthy, this is also an area in which you can introduce variety into life.

    Now switching gears, I also remind you that you won't be able to be "excited" about going to work through a whole career regardless of what techniques you use. You may have to develop some different attitudes for the long haul. We all do, but it is different for everybody. I don't recommend resignation or cynicism, which happens to too many planners, but you may need to think about how to see your role in terms of evolution rather than excitement.

  25. #25
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    It may be that you don't feel your talents are appreciated or have an insufficient workload. I suggest asking your coworkers if they have any particularly challenging situations/cases they are dealing with that they would care to hand over to you. Nothing like dealing with a sociopath or two to reinvigorate one's outlook, make one appreciate the fact that they are alive, and get the juices flowing once again!
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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