How to Avoid Burnout Now

Mental Health, Productivity, Reducing Stress
12/03/20 - Sara Dawson

So many of us are all too familiar with the term burnout. Burnout is a constant state of physical and emotional stress and exhaustion. With everything going on in the world right now, the burnout feeling is very real. We have our ups and downs, our good days and the bad. Time keeps going and it has a strange surreal feel to it. The days blur together and before you know it, another month has gone by and you wonder what you have to show for it. 

With everything going on, it’s normal to feel burned out and like everything is a little harder. Especially when there are so many factors outside of our control. When we are feeling burned out, we are unhappy. It is a disempowering feeling when we focus on how these burnout factors are beyond our control. The good news is there is science out there that suggests there is even more we can control than we may think, despite so many circumstances being outside of our control. 

Where Happiness Comes From

According to Sonja Lyubomirsky & Kennon M. Sheldon’s book, The How Of Happiness, Happiness is something we can successfully pursue. While they argue that 50% of our happiness comes from our genes, and 10% from our circumstances (like work, COVID, etc.), that leaves a significant 40% left that drives our happiness – and that comes from ourselves! Prescribing to this model gives us more control of our emotions. Today we are going to focus on some of the areas within our control to avoid burnout and stress and instead start to increase our productivity and happiness! 

A lady smiling and drinking a beverage

A Formula for High Performance 

Avoiding burnout doesn’t have to be complicated. One framework that resonates with me is called the Bulletproof Productivity System. We control what we can to feel our best.  If we focus on what we want to do (clarity) in the right way (efficiency) and are enjoying the journey and the result (fulfillment), then we feel productive instead of burned out. In this model productivity is the goal. The formula is as follows: Productivity = Clarity + Energy + Focus + System – Distractions. Make sure you touch upon all five to feel your best!


Finding clarity is all about shifting your mental state to a clear mind. When we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it’s impossible to objectively look at a situation and see what is needed to achieve the outcomes we desire. Shifting our state is key to get into the right headspace to feel and do our best.

One simple strategy you can try to shift your state is by taking a few deep breaths when you are feeling overwhelmed and ask yourself a few core questions: What is the outcome I want? What is most important now to achieve this? What do I need to do to make it happen? Our brain will answer the questions we ask it, so keep them objective and empowering and see where those answers take you. 


Managing your energy is key to being productive and to avoid burnout. Even if you know what you need to do and the best way to go about doing it, as the saying goes “you cannot pour from an empty cup.” What is one change you can prioritize with your health today? An extra hour of sleep? Optimizing your diet? Or increasing your physical activity? Any of these steps can lead to big energy gains.


Improving our focus is another key to productivity and avoiding burnout. When our attention is divided, it is yet another energy drain and we can’t perform at our best. We as humans are meant to be task switchers instead of multi-taskers. Plus studies from UCIrvine and others show that it takes over 23 minutes to resume a solid level of concentration after being interrupted. Other studies show we experience 7-8+ interruptions per hour. With both of these in mind, we are NEVER concentrating well – no wonder we feel burned out! Just recognizing this reality is a way to help avoid this, along with creating structure. Try to focus on one thing at a time, limit distractions, and build your focus through strategies like meditation and planning. 

A tattoo reading FOCUS on a woman

While you may have the right mindset and environment to avoid burnout and be productive, if you don’t have the right tools or approach you are still out of luck. Making your ideal outcomes a reality requires an organized plan to see you through. Create intentionality with your day by planning ahead, building a schedule, and staying organized. 


Distractions are any sort of thing that gets in the way of you feeling your best and being productive. While we probably can’t change them all, start taking control by developing a plan to start minimizing some of them today. What environmental factors aren’t serving you towards your goals? What will you change? 

By leveling up in all five of these areas, we control what we can to feel our best. 

Looking for Burnout Support?

Building and maintaining your momentum to overcome burnout can be tough, and coaching can help! Partnering with a coach is such a powerful tool to help you set and achieve your tools. If you are ready to overcome your burnout and avoid it for good, with the structure accountability and support of coaching, schedule your free coaching consult with me today! I look forward to connecting with you. 

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