Preventing Burnout: Monitoring

Sometimes you know exactly where you stand but sometimes you may feel a bit lost. Whether you are walking through the woods or finding your way from burnout to work engagement, it helps to have a map to put things in perspective.

A useful exercise is to track your day-to-day or week-to-week fluctuations along the three-part continuum that runs from burnout to engagement. This monitoring need not be complicated or objective. You can set up an empty graph. The y-axis represents the strength of the three dimensions; the x-axis represents time. The strength can be rated from very lot to very high. Each unit along the x-axis can represent a day. At a regular time, such as the beginning, middle, or end of a workday, you make a mark representing how you feel that day. You may choose to track only one dimension or all three. If you track all three, I advise using three colors to keep things straight.

What to Track

    Energy. A powerful part of the continuum from burnout to engagement is your energy level. Although we can distinguish physical, emotional, social, and cognitive energy, the three tend to rise and fall together. Also, there energy levels are not very subtle. If you feel energetic, you probably are.

    Involvement. The second dimension tracks how readily you were involved in your work that day. This rating may refer to the extent to which you could attend to people, your reading, your writing, your craft: whatever your work is about. At the low end are days when you simply cannot concentrate or generate any worthwhile thoughts. On the positive end are days when you get into a state of flow, easily working at your peak level for extended periods.

    Efficacy. The third dimension relates to your confidence in your abilities and the importance of your work. When you feel confident of your capacity to make meaningful contributions to significant work you would rate high. When you are feelings insecure about your capacity or the meaningfulness of your work, your ratings would drift to the low end.

Why Bother?

The reason for tracking your energy, involvement, and efficacy over time tis to identify trends that may be too subtle to be apparent day to day.

    • It may be that the trend is a flat line: you have up days and down days, but they cancel one another out in the long run.

    • It could also be that your new approach to work or exercise is improving your energy levels or sense of confidence. Knowing that trend confirms you are on the right track.

    • It could also be that shift in job resources or demands is beginning to wear you down towards the exhaustion and disengagement end of the scale. Identifying a down trend emphasizes the importance of taking action to turn things around.

So, does monitoring your experiences seem like an appealing thing to do?

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