Avoid Early-Career Burnout by Breaking These 6 Habits

Career BurnoutIn the time it takes to pull up to a drive-thru window and order a large fry, we Millennials want to go from intern to CEO. We’ve got places to go and success to obtain.

The ambitious gear needs to be in overdrive to get to the next rung on the ladder, but before you accelerate even more… know that there are some strict speed limits. And that some of our right-foot-heavy work habits can actually end up labeling us as doormats—and that’s not good.

Here are six habits you should nix early in your career to ensure you aren’t being counterproductive in your pursuit of success:

1. Not Taking Your Lunch Break

You want to show your manager you understand meeting deadlines is crucial, and sometimes it means skipping your lunch to get that report done by noon—but every day shouldn’t look like this.

On days you don’t have tight deadlines, take a break to replenish your mind and body. The company isn’t going to plummet in stock if you take 30 minutes to eat your sandwich. Eat your lunch and enjoy every bite. Take some time to step away from your desk, go chat up another coworker and enjoy the break. Better yet, step outside and feel the sun.

2. Answering Emails After Hours

Your personal time is just that—personal. It’s your time to spend doing what you love to do, whether that’s hiking or lounging by the pool playing Candy Crush. And what you love to do probably doesn’t include monitoring your work email like your life depends on it.

Relax. Work-life balance is a must. There are times when you’ll need to be on-call for a project that’s extended itself after hours. Other than those times, toss your work phone aside and make a point not to look at it until the next business day. Your boss emailing you pictures of her vacation to Mykonos doesn’t warrant an immediate reply.

3. Not Using Your Paid Time Off

One of the best parts of the benefits package is the vacation time! But what’s fun about it if you never use what you’ve earned? You can and you should use your vacation time. All of it.

The constant workload will often make you feel there will never be a perfect time to break away and go surfing in Maui, but the truth is there’s never a perfect time to do anything in life. The work will always be there. Set aside some time with your manager early on to discuss your vacation plans and all the projects that need to be completed before your trip. Simple.

4. Over-Explaining Yourself

You need to go to the doctor because you’ve been experiencing an annoying pain in your leg… and it’s not going away… and you’ve tried everything… and it’s not getting better…

Does your manager need to know why you have to leave early to go to the doctor? Absolutely not.

Sometimes we over-explain our situation to our employers to prove why we need the time off. A 12-minute synopsis is unnecessary. Things that happen in your personal life are your business. Providing a doctor’s note is the best way to show you’re being honest.

5. Not Speaking Up in Meetings

Maybe you’re the newbie at the company or you just got promoted to a new division, but it’s not an excuse for not speaking up at every opportunity when you’re invited to a meeting.

Never underestimate the importance of what you have to contribute.

Your creative idea could help launch a viral social media campaign. More often than not, someone else will say the exact thing you were terrified to say, and everyone will end up loving the idea. Don’t let this happen; own your ideas and speak confidently about them.

6. Taking on More Work Than You Can Handle

You’re only one person. You can’t do all the work by yourself. You shouldn’t have to, either. Sure, you want to impress your manager and other colleagues by showing them you know how to work efficiently and can handle your workload, but never compromise the quality of your work because you have too many other tasks to complete.

It’s okay to speak up and let your manager know when you’ve reached your capacity on the tasks you’ve been assigned. Speaking up, expressing concern about your workload and prioritizing your tasks will make you look responsible rather than incompetent.

What are some habits you feel can actually hinder your success rather than help it?





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Brazen Careerist!



JaimeeAbout the Author: Jaimee Ratliff is a PR Consultant and a culture enthusiast based in Houston, Texas. She also likes to write about all things Generation Y . Follow Jaimee on Twitter!.


Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, we offer edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!



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  • Alfred Poor

    This is all good advice, but to these points I would add: “Stop, look, and listen.”
    Entry level positions are there for a purpose. They are not intended to bore you to death or make you endlessly perform meaningless tasks. They are designed to give you an opportunity to contribute to the company while limiting the damage you can do. Don’t rush to take on more; take advantage of the lower responsibilities. Open your eyes and ears and learn all that you can about your employer and the different jobs that your colleagues have. Volunteer a lunch hour to be an audience for a sales rep who needs to practice a new presentation. Participate in group projects — especially in inter-departmental ones — even if it is to just record the minutes of meetings, so that you can expand your professional network and learn more about the opportunities in your company and your industry.
    You may be surprised that you have a talent for and an interest in a line of work that you never considered before. (Or you may discover that you don’t particularly like the job that you thought you wanted.) And by getting known by more people in your company, you increase your chances of getting recommended for an opening when one comes available.

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  • dtsilver1

    Great list – I’ve pretty much broken all of those rules except for #5 early in my career and have learned from my mistakes. Following these rules will actually help you to perform at 110% capacity not -10%. It’s easy to make these mistakes early on in your career – sometimes it’s needed to break-in to a corporate or business structure and show your worth, but ultimately, it’s a disillusionment that ends up impeding on your overall quality of work and main output – which will catch up with you in the end.

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  • Myriam

    Wonderful list, unless you work in NYC. My boss expects that I will be at my desk during lunch and that I will have my phone on me at all times after work. Too many bosses, especially those that are completely devoted to their jobs, expect you to be just as devoted, to a new level. And in this economy, I can’t afford to not follow these expectations. So I do more work than I possibly can and I eat at my desk and I pick up the phone when it rings after work because I have no choice in the matter. This is true of many people who are new to the workforce, it’s what we have to do with prove ourselves in this city. I try to take walk breaks throughout the day to stretch my legs outside and if I had actual lunch plans I could check with my coworkers ahead of time, but for the most part, I can’t say “it’s lunch time, I’m not answering the phones or emails, and I’m not helping people who walk in” It’s just not looked upon favorably!