No one would just plan to have a burn out.

However, there are 2 things you can manage that can reduce drastically the probability of a burnout.

From my own experience and observation burnout happens due to imbalance in two aspects from carrying out job duties.

  1. Doing work that it is at a high level of complexity beyond your level of knowledge and experience.
  2. Have an increased volume of work that 8 hours a days is not sufficient to keep up with it.

This does not mean that one always have to be on the comfort zone and never go beyond the 8 hours a day. Everyone should push to do more than one feel capable of and sometime work hard to achieve more than the average. These all can contribute to career progression.

There is not a magical number of volume and complexity of work but I will give you some guidance of what would be recommended to keep burnout under control.

As I said a job cannot be 100% on your comfort zone, but I would say a good balance is like 70/30.

70% is your comfort zone, where you know what you are doing, you have lots of experience doing something and it is second nature and value can be added very quick. The other 30% is your area for growth. Sometimes one do not have idea where to start and it requires research, training, ask for help from more senior staff and sometimes trial and error. Usually the 70% of your work is done quick and efficiently, without stress and much quicker than the average person would do. In contrast the other 30% you do slowly, have to do rework, have to ask for help, learn and etc.

If the amount of work in the unconformable goes beyond 50% then you get to that zone of: “I do not know what the hell what I am doing” most of the time.

That’s where the start of a burn out kicks in. You have to work extra hours to catch up. You are always reading and researching on how to solve the problem or asking people on how to do things. Your levels of stress and anxiety increase and that also may have an impact on your self esteem. In other words this is when impostor syndrome can become an issue.

Everyone feel this syndrome to some extent and it is to be contained in the 30% which is the area you are expanding, but most or your work (about 70%) you should feel very confident that you know well.

So the conclusion here is try to find jobs that you have that fair balance of comfortable and uncomfortable zones. For me roughly is 70/30. You can go more aggressively 60/40 but I would not go beyond 50%.

It feels good to be efficient and whenever you tackle a problem you can deliver value fast and seamless, getting lots of thumbs up for most of the work you do. That is an up spiral in your self confidence, perception from your performance and that helps you to tackle the more difficult challenging tasks, which is the uncomfortable 30%.

Now let’s talk about volume of work.

You can be in a easy job that does not require much of your brain or is something you do quick and easy even if that is hard for an experienced person.

However, if you have a massive volume of work that requires you to work overtime, say 100 - 120 hours per week to get the easy job done.

This is not going to work either. You will eventually get a burnout.

They key here is communication. Make sure the demands on your plate are reasonable and your manager understand what it takes to get things done vis-a-vis other options.

Sometimes it is just a matter of communicating how efficient you are compared to other options. A good benchmark would be your own manager or peers. How fast they can go? If they cannot go faster than you then you are right, you have too much on your plate. If that does not work probably it is time to let go and find another job or get better.

In summary, the idea is to pick a job that you can chew at the rate you bite and still learn, growth and be on top of your workload.

Take work you can do in healthy working hours that will not burn you out, at the same time you are learning and doing more complex tasks, so you can grow.

The disaster is when you have both going against you. Too much work that you have to do that you do not have an idea on how to get it done.

This is it for this post.