The fourth has just started at the time of writing this and I’ve seen a few social media posts talking about fourth-quarter burnout. As someone who has been working flat out this year I had to stop and think about and found that I identified with those experiencing fourth quarter burnout. With some introspection and research, I looked for the sources of this burnout. Yes, some of the work has been heavy and I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone a few times but surely there had to be more. Sure enough, I found that there are many more reasons one could be burnt out and we will discuss them today.

Lack of boundaries

I see a lot of people struggling with this one so it makes a good place to start. You will see people complain about doing too much and not having enough time for everything but when you pay attention to what it is that’s taking up their time you realise that the greater majority of tasks are none of their business or other people’s concerns. That’s because you haven’t set up boundaries for your time. It doesn’t matter who it is, they need to know that there is a time for everything under the sun. There’s time for work, time to help friends, time for family and time for you. Remember you set these boundaries and teach people to adhere to them. Don’t be rude, just simply explain that you cannot do that thing at the moment.

Doing work that doesn’t inspire

This is closely related to the first point on lack of boundaries. You will often find that work that is the most difficult to do is also work that happens to be uninspiring to you. It doesn’t matter the reason but sometimes it’s because the work just doesn’t align with your goals. So perhaps you’ve taken on work that doesn’t reward you adequately at the expense of work that does. Or you are just handling something that you have an interest in doing but is essential to your business. Consider delegating, outsourcing or automating tasks like this.

All work, no play

I will not dwell on this too much because I believe it has been beaten to death that all work and no play makes you a dull person. What I will say is this; what constitutes play is entirely up to you. If you prefer to do a DIY project then go skydiving that is just fine. So long as the play genuinely pleases you. The other thing I will say is that play does not equal rest.

Not putting rest in the plan

I very often see people pass around the advice to rest when you are tired. This sounds like good advice because after all we do need to rest and it seems a good idea to do so when our bodies or minds tell us to do so. Good is the enemy of great, however. Great advice is to rest before you’re tired. Rest should not be something you do when simply cannot go on but something you plan to do before you’re tired. Resting when you are tired has the distinct disadvantage of taking longer to recover, you may need more rest time. You will also realise that in most cases it means working while you’re tired and this means poor productivity. Make sure you plan for rest and regularly. Resting before you’re tired makes the best sense and avoids burnout.

Impractical perfectionism

Many people claim to be perfectionists. I say claim to be because you really have to think about some things. How can we see the perfection in what you’re working on if we never get to see what you’re working on? I have nothing against perfectionism but I believe the real problem is impractical perfectionism, a situation where the desire for perfectionism defeats all sense and practicality. You want to work on an idea so much that you get in the way of completing the idea. The problem here is that an idea that is never completed brings little satisfaction and soon enough frustration. This of course leads to burnout.

Watch out for these burnout causes in your work schedule and life and do what you can to start fixing them.