Discover the burnout signs you need to look out for and how to reignite, says EA Abigail Jones
Burnout, another way of describing multiple chronic stress over an extended period of time, is something that can affect anyone regardless of gender, age and job title. Millennial females are now experiencing it before the age of 30, and women are three times as likely as men to suffer from stress and anxiety. Admin professionals, PAs and EAs who juggle constant pressure, expectations and unrealistic deadlines are at risk, particularly those who have been in the industry for some time and have taxing responsibilities outside of the workplace, such as managing child care and personal lives.
For PAs and EAs, burnout tends to happen when they sacrifice too much to their jobs without getting any feeling of accomplishment or recognition in return. Assistants are in the difficult position of giving up the balance in their own personal lives to make it possible for someone else’s. Burnout has the end result of reducing efficiency within the workplace – the kiss of death for a role that puts efficiency, competence and organisation at the very top of the job description. If you have been working in this role for some time, maintaining enthusiasm for yet another set of expenses waiting to be processed, or the meeting that needs to be rescheduled yet again, is not easy.
The signs of burnout are:
- Physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion.
- No enthusiasm and lack of motivation.
- A pessimistic outlook, combined with frustration or cynicism.
- Cognitive problems – finding it harder to remember things or becoming more forgetful.
- A declining job performance, compared to your previous years.
- Interpersonal difficulties at home or work, or withdrawal from engaging.
- Lack of looking after yourself – affecting diet, exercise and sleep.
- Being preoccupied with work out of hours.
- Generally, a decreased satisfaction with life.
There are practical ways of dealing with potential burnout. First, it needs to be recognised and acknowledged; if the list above describes you, it is time to seriously reassess. You may need to actively seek to relax – a hard task for a busy PA, but essential. A rich, non-working life needs to be cultivated to allow energy to be expended in a non-working environment. You may need to ‘unplug’ from the emails, phone calls and social media accounts for a set period of time so that you don’t constantly wait on edge for the next communication. You can pursue self-development through continuous learning – keep your brain active and focus on something other than the day-to-day tasks to give variety. Network with other PAs – find out how they deal with busy lives and share your problems and experiences. And ultimately, perhaps it is time for a change of job – if the ennui is created by your current role, it may be right to look for something new to challenge you. It only takes one person to change your life – YOU.