Recognising Burnout In Yourself

It’s important that you learn to recognise the signs of burnout in yourself and feel able to speak up about it if you think it is happening to you. Everyone is susceptible to burnout. Even if you feel that you are very relaxed and laid back there will be times that you experience stress. It may be a surprise when you realise that you’ve become overwhelmed.

Some common symptoms of burnout are:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention
  • Increased illness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Pessimism
  • Detachment
  • Isolation
  • Feeling of apathy and hopelessness
  • Increased irritability

You may find these symptoms manifesting in the following ways:

  • Excessive procrastination and an inability to start work
  • Poor performance where performance has been good in the past
  • An inability to break large tasks into manageable chunks
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the work you have to do
  • An inability to prioritise
  • Finding yourself getting easily irritated by other team members
  • Feelings of guilt and shame, like you have let the rest of the team down
  • Avoiding group situations, meetings, and hangouts
  • Over-committing on what you can deliver
  • Forgetfulness, lack of concentration.

What to do if you think you will burn out

There is no shame in burning out. It will not affect your career opportunities either at Human Made or elsewhere. What matters most is that you focus on getting well: the company will provide whatever support it can offer to help you do that. Speaking up when you are experiencing problems shows maturity in the face of a personally distressful situation. It is something that we value as a company and you will not be penalised in any way for it.

It will not help you or Human Made if you continue to work when you are burnt out. Without a break, your health will deteriorate. You will continue to underperform and other members of your team will inevitably be affected. It is better for you, and for everyone that you work with, that you focus on getting better so you can get back to work as your usual self. Try not to feel guilty about needing this time away: everyone at the company needs help at some point and there will be times in the future when you’re the person that someone else leans on.

In a remote company, it can be difficult for others to pick up on when you are struggling. We rely on you to come forward if you are having problems. If you have any of the above symptoms or think that you will burn out, you should talk to your team lead, managers, or project lead.

It may be that someone approaches you with fears that you will burn out. If this is the case, listen to what they have to say and reflect upon it to see if they are correct. Even if you think you are fine, someone else might have picked up on a warning sign that you are not seeing.

Everyone is different so each situation will be handled slightly differently. However, a rough outline of what will happen is:

  1. You inform your manager that you are burnt out or fear that you will be.
  2. If you are a developer or scrum master you should talk to your squad about it and ensure cover fro your work.
  3. You will be able to take time off work if you need it. You can take as long as you need. If it is longer than three days we may ask you for a doctor’s note. We ask that you check in weekly with the company to inform us of your status. This helps us to plan projects properly. If you need a longer period off work, you can take it off in accordance with the long term sick leave policy.
  4. When you return to work we’ll chat about what you want to work on to make sure that you have a manageable workload.
  5. If you work on client projects and are ready to return you will be able to pick the project up again.