Neyat Yohannes
November 18, 2015 12:43 pm

My default look has officially changed to hideous mid-yawn face. At any given moment during the work week, you can find me mouth agape, looking like a gargoyle or a roaring lion with a case of lock-jaw. I. Can’t. Stop. Yawning. And neither can any of my peers who have also newly entered the post-grad working world. The dreaded burnout is among us and it’s taking no prisoners.

There’s something about that 9-5 grind—or 8 to 4, or 10 to 6, or whatever chunk of time you do the work of employment between—that seems to keep many of us from functioning in the ways we’d like. I personally have to get up for work at 6:30am and I don’t get home until around 5:30pm—as a result, I find myself accidentally napping, putting off creative side-projects, and lacking the energy to be productive or even socialize on weeknights. After about two months of this sluggish lifestyle, I decided that some necessary changes were in order. Here are some strategies I’ve been using to combat the evil burnout.

For every big hard thing you want to do, allow yourself a couple fun things

So let’s be real. We all have that never-ending list of boring adult tasks that we’ve been avoiding and it just looms in the back of our minds as we attempt to sneak a nap or settle into some Netflix time. Clean the bathtub or do the laundry or talk to the landlord about that window that won’t close—the list of tasks just never ends. I always leave work with plans to knock items off this list but when I get home, I end up beginning several different tasks and never actually finish any of them because I’m too overwhelmed. I’ve learned that I’m most productive when I’m honest with myself about how much I’m willing and capable of getting done.

Thus, I present you with: The magical 1:3 ratio of activities. This just means that for every adult activity I accomplish, I treat myself to three not-so-adult activities. So for example, if I renew my car insurance, I might treat myself to a silly vine, an episode of Veep, and a snack. None of these things are very substantial but my little 1:3 trick ratio ensures that I plow through my dull tasks without losing steam. Because one adult-task done is better than none.

Go out on weeknights

I don’t care if this means going out for ice cream in your sweatpants, hitting the gym, or rounding up some pals for a night-cap at your favorite bar. The main objective is to get your body as far away from your bed as possible. Every week, if you go on an outing—or two—that involves leaving your room, this can curb your desire to take naps too close to bedtime and it will give you something to look forward to. I suggest Wednesday (hi, Wednesday!) because it’ll help you get over that hump in the work week.

Working out helps to reduce sluggishness and social interaction will stop you from having those stressful thoughts that sometimes creep up when you’re isolated. I like to go for walks or meet some friends at this kitschy tiki bar near my house that makes a ridiculous blended tropical drink called a Chi Chi. It comes with a paper umbrella, a maraschino cherry, a pineapple wedge, plastic mermaids, and just enough stuff to make me momentarily forget that I have work in the morning.


Take a later lunch break 

I’ve started taking my lunches at around 1:30pm and it’s great because once I return to my desk, I only have two hours of work left and I can power through in my reenergized state. This has seriously done wonders for me. I used to take my lunch at noon and I would find myself crashing and burning by 2pm. This simple switch allows me to accomplish more later in the day and it puts me under the illusion that the day is somehow shorter.

However, if your lunch break is inflexible the thought if waiting even longer to eat lunch sounds unbearable, snacks are key! Pack mini-treats that you can gift yourself with throughout the morning and afternoon. Dried fruits, nuts, pretzels, and yogurt are all healthy options that aren’t too messy–no one lines sticky, stained desks—and will give you little boosts of energy.

Make your weekends worth waiting for

Sometimes, by the end of the week, all I want to do is curl into a ball and stay holed up in bed all weekend burning through a new TV series and eating everything within arm’s reach. And after an especially horrendous week, that can be enough. But come Friday on an average work week, it’s nice to have exciting weekend plans waiting for you.

Take a day trip out of town, see a show, spend an afternoon at the museum, do brunch at that spot you’ve been dying to try, schedule a hot tub sesh and unwind with your boo thang or bff. It’s so easy to let your days off slip away without having done a single thing, but if you set a little time aside on a weeknight, you can plan a weekend worth waiting for!

Good luck, you can do it! It’s almost Thursday, anyway.

[Image via Universal Pictures]

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