BITS ‘N’ PIECES
Burnout - generally understood as reduced interest and productivity in one’s work precipitated by overwork - can now be classified as a diagnosable condition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which included it in ICD-11, the organization’s diagnostic manual. The criteria listed for diagnosing burnout are:
1) Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
2) Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
3) Reduced professional efficacy
The manual notes that before diagnosing someone with burnout, they should rule out other disorders with comparable symptoms, like adjustment disorder, anxiety or depression, and it’s easy to see why - the symptoms listed are likely familiar to anyone who’s experienced even passing depression. Hating (or even being very sick of) one’s job and feeling depressed can operate in a feedback loop, and early burnout researchers warned that the difficult inherent to making that distinction might prevent the recognition of burnout as a disease.
But in our increasingly career-as-calling culture, which encourages dedication as the ultimate asset, which calls employees “family”, which fails to provide them with benefits, and which provides “unlimited vacation” but expects employees to take less time off than ever, burnout has become an epidemic. How real-life diagnosis will work - and what, if anything, can be done when it is - remains to be seen, but admitting you (“you” being American corporate culture) have a problem is the first step toward recovery.
Even if your job does not spark joy, there are ways to apply Marie Kondo’s methods to your career to make each day a little easier to bear.
1. Before you can do, you must visualize
Before you clear out your desk and delete your inbox, consider why you want to get organised. Your intentions will help you commit to actually sticking to your word.
2. Streamline your stuff
Store similar items together! To figure out what should stay, commit to intentionally discarding all paper that doesn’t have a clear purpose.
3. Pay attention to your feelings about jobs
Notice and be honest about how you are feeling about your environment. These are emotions that may not be encouraged in an unfeeling office but are necessary to be aware of if you want to find and keep a fulfilling career.
The things that do and do not spark joy can be clues for career development.
4. Focus on your needs first
Focus less on the mess of your co-workers, and more on actions you can actually take to feel in control of your careers. You may not be able to change your boss, but you can make adjustments to get the career you actually want.
5. Be grateful for the lessons
Training yourself to recognise what you have each day instead of obsessing over what you do not have can apply to jobs, too. Be grateful for the lessons in the tedious job under the bad manager, and that acceptance may then help you let go of your debilitating guilt, anger and regrets around those harder lessons.
6. Harness the power of stuff
Make your desk a personal power spot with cherished items. It could be a picture drawn by your sister, a trinket from a loved one or a certificate that makes you feel proud and accomplished.