Are you burned out?

Take the Burnout QUIZ.  As featured on last week on

With the prevalence of long hours in the workplace, pressure to perform, and constant connectedness (thanks to email, voicemail, texting, twitter feeds, instant messaging, facebook, etc.…good grief), it is not uncommon to hear people talk about feeling burned out. You might feel this way, too. But are you really burned out?

The Quiz. You may be prone to burnout or experiencing burnout if:

1. You have perfectionist tendencies and work under chronic time pressures.

2. You are prone to depressive feelings and find yourself easily frustrated or angered.

3. You work in an isolated environment and lack relationships or feedback from others.

4. You routinely question the importance of the things you do.

5. You don’t feel much satisfaction from your efforts, regardless of how hard you try.

6. You are rarely recognized for doing a great job.

7. You cannot complete your most important activities in the time you have.

8. You lack the resources (people, tools, budget) to do your work properly.

9. You lack the authority to make decisions and influence how your work is done.

10. You feel decisions are not fair or are made in a manner inconsistent with your values.

So what exactly is burnout and how does it differ from run-of-the-mill stress, lack of sleep, or other common issues in our harried lifestyle these days?

Burnout is a progressive condition in which people detach from their work and relationships as a result of prolonged stress and strain. If you are familiar with “engagement”, burnout is the opposite. It results in reduced effectiveness and productivity, cynicism, apathy, and despair. Unchecked it can spiral to a point of crisis where the mind and body literally breakdown. It’s not good.

If you are wondering if it is possible to do your best work and be burned out, the answer is unequivocally “no”. So if you are doing great work and think you might be burned out, the good news is that you probably aren’t there yet. There is time to right your course. The bad news is that if you are burned out and you think you are doing great work, you’re not. You may be only kidding yourself.

It may also be helpful to consider what burnout is not. Burnout is not a recognized, classified mental disorder (according to the American Psychiatric Association). It is not depression or anxiety or a mid-life crisis, though it may accompany those issues. It is not routinely treated with medication, in and of itself. But it is a real problem. The World Health Organization recognizes burnout as a “problem related to life-management difficulties”.

So if you identify with several of the observations above, you may be more prone to burnout. You may be experiencing some early stages of burnout. You may even have a full-fledged flaming case of burnout. Take heart; there is hope. In the posts to come, we’ll explore the stages of burnout and how to fire-proof your work and life.