Monday, June 28, 2010

Simple Steps Job-Seekers Can Take to Avoid Burnout

Unemployment takes its toll on both the job seeker and the job seeker’s pocketbook. While there is not much you, as a job seeker, can do to relieve the stress on your pocketbook, there are things that you can do to relieve the stress on your psyche. If you feel as if you are starting to burn out here are some things you can do to avoid it:
  1. Take care of #1. Do something good for your physical, emotional & spiritual well-being every single day. If you don't schedule time for yourself ahead of time, and guard this time as sacred, you may never find "spare time" to do it. (When was the last time you have "free time"?) Self-care can be something as simple as spending a few minutes enjoying a cup of tea/coffee, taking a walk around the block, taking a bubble bath, chatting with your friends/family, reading a novel (or some jokes), watching your favourite TV show (just don't veg out in front of the tube for too long), exercise (the endorphin will make you feel great), cooking your favourite dish, playing with your pet, listening to your radio (instead of your children's music) in the car, etc.
  2. Make the time to do nothing! One of my favourite quotes of all time was written by author and humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain who said, “Time spent wasting is not wasted time.” Everyone needs to take time to relax, refresh and replenish. Don’t keep pushing yourself. During your job search, you should strive to keep regular business-like hours and take breaks during your day.
  3. Get back in touch with the things you value. This period in your life is a gift wherein you have the opportunity to assess what needs to be eliminated as well as what needs to be restored. The time spent looking for suitable employment will give you the opportunity to clarify if the job you seek will be fulfilling and meaningful. Have you considered how important it will be to blend or balance your next job opportunity with your core values? How much are you willing to compromise on those values? Now is the time to re-assess and re-adjust your priorities as needed.
  4. Establish realistic expectations for what you can and cannot accomplish. If you find that you are driving yourself too hard, it may be time to let go of unrealistic expectations and readjust. Shorten your ‘To do’ list, give yourself some slack when needed and know when to let up on yourself and others. Build in consequences. Promise yourself a reward to be ‘paid’ when you succeed.
  5. Think out of the box and challenge yourself consistently. If you’re in a rut, try spicing things up a bit! Find innovative ways to do mundane tasks.
  6. Learn how to communicate clearly. Resolve conflicts, don’t run from them. Let people know what you expect from them, and ask them what they expect from you. Be clear and concise with what you say, and how you say it. Listen closely to the people around you, it will teach them to listen closely to you.
  7. Embrace and Practice the 3-D Principle (Do it, Delegate it or Dump it) When you feel overwhelmed, it's a sign that you're doing too much. Take an honest look at your ‘To do’ list -- how many of those tasks are **truly** necessary for YOU to do? Can someone else do some of those jobs for you? Can you hire help or barter with your friends (or other professionals) to get some tasks done?
  8. Learn to Let Go Be flexible about HOW you want things done. If you can be flexible, then there is a greater chance you can delegate some tasks to someone else, and free up your precious time & energy for the tasks that really must be done by you, and/or things that you actually enjoy doing.
  9. Manage your time. Poor time management will always lead to burnout. Set regular business-like hours to concentrate on your job search. Make appointments with yourself to get things done – and keep them! Squeeze in time for daily walks. It’s free, the fresh air will do you good and it will give you the opportunity to settle your mind. Put your perfectionism on the shelf. Moreover, keep it there! You can take it down later when you're up and running Watch your estimations. But think big! Don't be afraid to tell someone that you need thirty minutes to do the task , even if you know you can do it in ten.
  10. Set up e-mail filters. Separating e-mail into distinct categories if possible makes the whole mess much easier to manage and establish designated times for responding to e-mail.
  11. Turn off the computer/email and the phone for set hours.
  12. Stop blaming yourself or others. If you’re playing the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” game, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your attitude. Blaming yourself or others for things that have gone wrong doesn’t help. What does? Learn from your experiences and make changes to ensure that you get the results you want the next time.
  13. Value yourself by establishing boundaries and limits. Learn how to establish boundaries and limits it in a way that clear and consistent. Don’t give away too much of your time. Learn how to say no.
  14. Deal with your emotions. Keeping your feelings inside is not healthy. If you are feeling any kind of negative emotion, don’t deny it. Instead, learn how to acknowledge your feelings, be up front with them; and find ways to address the underlying causes.
  15. Laugh, smile and enjoy the ride! Life is too short to worry and be serious all the time. Find ways to make your life more fun and enjoyable. Eat at least one meal a day with family or friends. Know your own "Relax" buttons. I not only make coffee I grind my own beans and use the stovetop espresso pot in the kitchen to create a relaxing brew. The relaxation is not only in the coffee itself but in the process of making it.
  16. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help. Everybody needs a little help once in a while. You can’t do everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or associates for help, or hire a professional when needed.
  17. Avoid Multi-Tasking. While it's impossible to totally avoid multi-tasking, try to minimize it whenever you can. Many new studies showed that your brain actually works slower when you multi-task, because it has to stop and start to switch between tasks. Multi-tasking also increases your stress level and makes you more prone to making mistakes. Because you are distracted and switching among several tasks, you might find yourself running like crazy but not accomplishing much at the end of the day. It's very frustrating when every project is half-done and you can't cross them off your list. A better approach is to tackle the most important task for the day first (like Brian Tracy said, "Eat that frog"), and then move on to the next one.
  18. Slow Down. I know, this might sound counter-intuitive. When you feel overwhelmed and your life is spinning out of control, instead of trying to work faster and harder, you should try to deliberately s-l-o-w d-o-w-n. Ideally, you want to create some "white space" in your life, i.e. pockets of quiet time to meditate, reflect, stop and smell the roses. Just like a Chinese painting needs adequate "white space" to maintain the balance, so does your life.