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When you’re feeling burned out, how do you handle it?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

When you’re feeling burned out, how do you handle it?  

  • I take time off. 36.7%
  • I power through the burnout and know it will pass. 32.3%
  • I say “no” and prioritize better. 18.6%
  • I look to change roles or jobs. 8.4%
  • I delegate more work. 4.0%

Breather or burnout? There seem to be two distinct camps here: those who take time off and those who power through those difficult times. The third camp says “no” and prioritizes more diligently. Each approach has its pros and cons. Those taking time off run the risk of coming back to a larger crisis or being further behind when they left. Those powering through could run themselves into the ground and completely burn out. The middle path of prioritizing more rigorously seems to be a prudent balance between those two extremes. The next time you’re feeling burned out, evaluate what’s on your plate. Assess how much time you can afford to take off to recharge. Ask if you really have it in you to power through the painful period. If not, maybe it’s time to try an approach of more rigorous prioritization.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”