Post Academic

Job Burnout: Do You Have it?

Posted in Surviving Grad School,Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on December 13, 2010
Tags: , ,

PhotobucketThere’s a big difference between job dissatisfaction and burnout. Burnout is an all-encompassing sensation that wrecks your personal life, too. Almost all jobs get annoying at some point, but burnout has an emotional and physical impact that’s tough to overcome, and academics are especially vulnerable to it.

This week, I’m tackling the subject of burnout–from how to figure out if you have it, how to deal with it and how to prevent it. While reading up on burnout, I realized that, if burnout could take a human form, it would be as a workplace bully. In the end, you have to know how to detect it and how to stand up to it so you can get your work done and stay sane at the same time.

So, first, how to tell if you are burnt out or just stressed. All jobs have stress, and people react to stress differently. Some people freak out if they catch a serial comma on an AP style page, while others won’t complain even if they’re asked to work until midnight. It all depends on the person, but the basic symptoms of burnout are hard to ignore.

The Maslach Burnout Inventory in French by Micthev from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

In a New York Magazine article from 2006, Jennifer Senior lists the top signs of burnout according to the Maslach Burnout Inventory:

1. Working too much
2. Working in an unjust environment
3. Working with little social support
4. Working with little agency or control
5. Working in the service of values we loathe
6. Working for insuficient reward, whether the currency is money, prestige, or positive feedback

There’s a full burnout self-test here, but numbers 3, 4 and 6 ought to seem familiar to academics. Whatever it is you do, print out this list and tape it to your wall. If any of the numbers start to apply to you, it’s time to change your workday schedule and maybe even your job. And that’s a matter for the post that will appear the day after tomorrow …

5 Responses to 'Job Burnout: Do You Have it?'

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  1. Mackie Blanton said,

    If I could give an award to PostAcademic for Best Post of the Year, this would be the one. I will forward it around to colleagues everywhere, and place it in my Technical Communication/Writing e-folder for future students.

  2. Thank you! We’re here to help, and there are two more posts on job burnout after this one. I’d be thrilled if we could keep at least one person from burning out.

  3. Anthea said,

    I agree with Mackie Blanton!

  4. Michael said,

    Great post.

    I scored a 55 on that test. I guess I’m pretty burned out, huh?

  5. Mackie Blanton said,

    Oh, test! Right! I’d forgotten all about that self-test. So I just took it: I’m on the cusp of “Be Careful.” Perhaps I should go back into retirement.

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