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The Great Burnout: How to effortlessly invigorate your work life

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Clinicians are experiencing burnout at the highest level ever recorded. Finding a solution isn’t a career priority, it’s a systemic healthcare necessity.



Findings from the National Training Survey 2022 discovered 39% of Junior Doctors and 27% of senior doctors in trainer roles reported experiencing burnout to a high degree, directly related to their work. There is no hiding the fact we are a burnout generation of healthcare workers. The dangers of burnout are front and centre of our society, woven into everyday conversations. Despite this, the condition is still severely misunderstood, placing significant pressure on our collective productivity and overall well-being.


Let's break down some top tips clinicians can implement today to help protect against workplace burnout.



Enhance Productivity

Clinicians are notoriously time-starved. From the ever-growing patient list to the towering administrative load, clinicians are working harder and longer than ever before. The irrevocable limit here is time, shifting the focus toward working smarter, not harder is key.


Prioritize administrative tasks:

Administrative tasks for most clinicians are prioritised ad hoc often jumping from one task to the next draining mental energy. Unlike patient lists, admin (often) does not hold the same sense of urgency, leading to a build-up of tasks elevating both your anxiety and stress levels before the day even begins. Planning out administrative tasks before the day begins is a surefire way to maintain control over your task list. Coupling daily to-do lists with distraction-free time blocks further enhances productivity.


Prioritize deep work

Deep work is a clinician's superpower. Deep work can be described as 60-90 minutes of distraction-free time in which the main focus is productive work. The main way to create this would be through environment optimisation and setting boundaries with yourself and others. This means minimising internet and phone distractions, setting clear intentions and focusing on work that will not distract e.g. replying to emails following the deep work period.


For more in-depth tips to enhance productivity check out our dedicated blog post.



Flexible schedule

The Covid-19 global pandemic was a period of forced change for companies and workplaces across the world. Inadvertently, this was one of the largest mass behavioural experiments of our time, forcing systemic changes across all workplaces. One key concept learnt was that a higher degree of flexibility is significantly correlated to an increase in job satisfaction.


Enjoying your career is the single biggest prevention mechanism to protect against burnout.

Although not always possible within a healthcare setting it is important to try to maximise your schedule the best you can to generate the highest level of job satisfaction. Creating slots in which you have scheduled time off has been found to help prevent burnout. More patients are now wanting appointments outside of working hours, this could be a beneficial asset in terms of adopting a reinvigorating change to your working pattern.




Prevent boredom

New challenge

This may shock you but the biggest reason for burnout is boredom. As clinicians, you are particularly susceptible to this once settled into your role. This is because you are used to facing constant challenges throughout your intensive schooling and training however, once settled into your daily role can start to feel under-stimulated. Although this may seem counterproductive one of the ways to counter burnout is to take on further roles or additional certifications. In doing this you keep yourself challenged and maintain an active mind.


Set goals

We have all heard that setting goals are key for career development, with the SMART acronym installed in us from a young age. What’s interesting about the act of setting goals is that on a psychological level, it does way more than just progress your career. In fact, it has been shown to enhance engagement, motivation, and job satisfaction. Again, the concept of spending time away from your daily practice to create goals may seem counterproductive. However, setting goals gives your everyday role a new meaning and vitality.


Goal setting is a cathartic experience ultimately helping you connect with the primary reason you chose your career in the first place!

Holistic approach

As high-performing individuals, we can be our own worst enemies, often working against our circadian rhythms and placing productivity above our health. Shifting the focus back towards well-being can go a long way to help prevent and recover from burnout.


Movement

Exercise is by far one of the most superior ways to prevent burnout. Chronic stress consistently activates the sympathetic nervous system causing the body to get stuck in a stress-state.


Physical movement relaxes the body and returns the nervous system to a calmer state.

Implementing exercise into your daily life such as walking to work or taking the stairs instead of the lift can all add up to lower overall stress levels. If you do not enjoy exercise deep breathing has also been found to yield similar results.



Connection

In medical school, it was not only encouraged but mandatory to work in groups. You may be surprised to hear that the main reason for this was not just to enhance team building and leadership, but also to help you psychologically. As humans, we are hard-wired to connect with other people as this is a primary way in which we regulate our own stress response. As we progress throughout our careers life gets in the way, causing us to place a lower importance on connection.


Studies have indicated that peer support groups are a low-cost and easy way to implement more morale at work and reduce feelings of burnout.


Sleep

Chances are you if you are reading this you are sleep- and rest-deprived. As high performers, sleep can be viewed as somewhat counterproductive, exchanging an hour here or there to get on top of work.


Reducing the hours you spend sleeping may appear like an innocent way to enhance productivity, but ultimately it significantly increases your chances of burnout.

Sleep is the ultimate performance enhancer, with studies showing sleep deprivation directly impacts cognitive performance. For this reason, elite sports teams fork out big bucks for specialist sleep teams. In fact, Tom Brady is known for his iron-clad sleep schedule falling asleep at a juvenile 20:30 each time to help claim his 5th Super Bowl win at the age of 39. Therefore, optimising your sleep routine is key if you are feeling burnout- your work will thank you in the long run.



Daily ‘me time’

This concept can be particularly challenging for clinicians and is often met with resentment and guilt. However, carving out ‘me time’ no matter how small can go a long way to recharge and energise, creating momentum for the day ahead. Small acts of ‘me time’ can be easier to implement than you think and can consist of just 5 minutes a day. Examples include taking time to mindfully drink your coffee undisturbed, listening to your favourite song in the car or maybe just putting your phone on do not disturb and reading a book.


Ultimately, taking the time for short bursts of ‘me time’ throughout your day enhances your mood, and helps prevent depression and burnout ten-fold.

If you are interested in implementing more mindfulness ‘me time’ into your day check out our blog post.




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