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- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
6 min read
By Nick Bell

How successful people tackle burnout

Mental Health

It’s no secret that the most successful people have the greatest demands on their time. According to Gallup, unmanageable workloads and unrealistic time pressure are two of the greatest risk of employee burnout, and the consequences can be extreme: burned-out employees are more than twice as likely to actively seek another job, and they are 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.

But how can you avoid burning out even if you have a lot on your plate? And how can you handle it if you do find yourself experiencing burnout? Most successful people share a few common habits and mindsets to help them tackle burnout.


It can be tempting to try and “do it all,” especially if you’re afraid of letting down those around you. But saying “no” can be an important key in avoiding or handling burnout.

By saying “no,” you are demonstrating the value of your time and energy, both for yourself and for those around you. Recognizing that value of your limited minutes helps you be more productive and intentional with your time, rather than trying to multi-task or overworking yourself to do everything.

If you can’t say “no,” try and delegate or distribute your work to others. Asking for reasonable help not only lightens your workload but also improves your workplace relationships. Think carefully about the responsibilities you need to accept and those you can let go of or share with others and you’ll find yourself feeling better supported and set up for success.


Poor health and burnout go hand-in-hand, and they create a vicious cycle that can be a challenge to break. Think about the last time you had a bad cold – how did it affect your performance at work? And how did the accumulated stress from work affect your immune system? Feeling sick increases your stress, and feeling stressed increases the chances you’ll get sick.

To avoid getting sick, make healthy choices throughout the week. When you know you’re going to have an especially stressful period at work, spend more time in advance preparing healthy meals and scheduling time for exercise or rest (including plenty of sleep!). If you get unexpectedly overwhelmed, set realistic limits on your time and prioritize healthy activities like eating right and getting exercise. Remind yourself that no one does their best work when they’re sick!

This might mean taking a sick day (and often does – employees experiencing burnout are over 60% more likely to take one). Try to take the sick day when you first feel unwell and use that time to take care of yourself so you can get back to work stronger and healthier.


We’ve all heard about the elusive “work-life balance” and how important it is to a healthy lifestyle. But success coaches and workplace health advocates have pushed to change the ideal from the static push-and-pull of “balance” and embrace a more fluid, integrated harmony.

Rethinking the work/life relationship as one of harmony allows for work to be a part of your life and vice versa. A surefire way to manage burnout is to love what you do, even to have a personal interest in the success of your projects. Feeling passionate about a position or project helps increase your motivation and overcome challenges that lead to burnout.

Don’t get stuck thinking of working time as a sacrifice of your personal time; try to blend the two in ways that provide holistic benefits.


Many successful people find themselves faced with burnout, even when they’re doing something they love. When this happens, it can be helpful to reflect on positive experiences with work to stay motivated and push through the challenge.

You can even prepare for this in advance! Save positive performance reviews, highlight projects, and moments of pride in a designated place to turn to when you feel burnout coming on. Even a brief reminder of positive experiences can increase your motivation and reduce stress.

If your burnout continues over a longer period, a key strategy for overcoming it is setting positive goals for your future. Try to visualize what success looks like beyond your burnout; imagine what it might feel like to finish the project, land the pitch, or please the client. Write that image down and return to it when you need to remember your “why.” Setting smaller, daily goals can also increase your feeling of productivity and help manage stress, reducing the impact of burnout.


One of the biggest warning signs of serious burnout is a feeling of stagnation or reduced productivity. To break out of these negative patterns, it can be helpful to get creative with your work. Try joining a coworking space or working in a common area of your office to change your scenery and get new perspectives.

In addition to changing your working space, you can try approaching problems in different ways. Use whiteboards or sticky notes to break down tasks and ask for new voices in looking at the work in front of you. These simple strategies can help navigate a creative or productivity block and get your work back on track.

Some burnout can’t be fixed with a new office and a positive attitude. If you feel seriously burnt out, it might be time to ask some tough questions. Try and identify the source of your stress – is it your team dynamic? The office culture? The work itself? Once you can find what’s causing the burnout, you can address it in a more targeted way by seeking a change in that area.


Once you’ve tackled burnout, set yourself up for success by making a plan to avoid it in the future. The most successful people sidestep burning out by learning from early-career mistakes and cultivating healthy, harmonious habits long before they start feeling stress. So the next time you feel burnout coming on, take note of what strategies work best for you and make them a part of your everyday life – you’ll feel consistently successful and productive without getting overwhelmed by burnout stress.

About the author


Co-Founder of Lisnic.com 🔥 & Founder of 12 digital agencies 🎯
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