Good news: you can do something.
1. Check yourself:
When looking at all the things stated in chapter 3, you might recognize some stuff. In addition you can fill in this self test:
Burnout Self-Test: Are You at Risk?
Are you overdoing it at work, and are you at risk of burning out? Find out with this interactive self-test.
So how are you?
Great, take some time to realize why you are doing fine and take measures in order to prevent yourself from getting to stressed.
I’m okay-ish, but something needs to change.
- Start by telling your team lead that you feel like you have been on your toes for a while and you think you need time to recover. Also tell your team. Also tell HR.
- Come up with a concrete 2 week plan (we can help you with that) to release some of the first pressure. This will mean a less busy sprint, shorter days, and maybe 2 weeks of 4 days to start with (or a holiday). The hours you gain, you can spend on things you enjoy and help you reload (Netflix, sports, cinema, go to the beach, visit friends, play with model trains). We learned that just doing nothing, doesn’t always help, so make sure to spend time on things you like.
- During these two weeks you check in with your team lead how your stress level is. You can make it really concrete by giving your stress level a number (1-10).
- Once you feel reloaded, we (you, teamlead and HR if you like) need to talk about the factors that caused your stress level to rise and see how we can prevent this from happening again.
I’m not good. I recognize the symptoms and I’m on the verge of burning out.
- Don’t wait, speak up now. Tell your team lead, tell HR
- We will get (external) professionals who are experts on this topic. We can put you in touch with them. They know Intempt and the environment and they will be able to get you back on track.
- Depending on your case and your problems, we come up with a tailor-made plan, based on what you need. This could involve some time off, working less or talking to a job coach.
2. Be aware
You can start with dividing your life into different parts. Think of: family, work, colleagues, sports, hobby, voluntary work. Once you have a clear overview of all the different areas, think about whether it adds to your stress level and if there are ways to change things. Let's zoom in a bit further:
Maybe you are in the middle of moving into your dream house or you are trying to get your house sold. Maybe you become a mom or dad, or maybe you really want to. Maybe you just got married or you just went through a rough break up. Maybe you have a lot of debts which are hard to get rid off. Maybe you have an addiction you are struggling with. Maybe you lost someone you love. Whatever it is: it affects your meter and it adds up.
Mapping this out and being aware of this already helps. When becoming aware of a big thing which adds to our stress level, we can see if we can try to fix it. This will not work for everything — of course, life sucks sometimes. But when in the midst of moving to another house, why not take 2 weeks off and really get it done instead of doing it beside your demanding job? Even the harder obstacles can be worked on. Start by going to the doctor, marriage counseling or a psychologist. It won’t ‘fix’ the problem instantly of course, but it’s a start. And again: sometimes life sucks.
- Working at a startup in survival mode (shifting directions, runway, fixing the product, changing teams)
- Your personal development (new role, changing responsibilities, not a set-in-stone job description)
- Everything happening around you (people leaving and joining, people taking on new responsibilities, changing PM’s and teamleads).
We know this adds to your tally. Again, just becoming aware of this already helps.
And also again, when you see something causing a lot of stress, let’s get to work on it. Not digging the new team structure? Not feeling your current role? Not happy with your team lead? Bring it up with someone you trust (HR, your team lead, Sid, just anyone) and let’s try to fix it or at least talk about it.
Intempt cares. So if you’re struggling, let’s change things to make sure you are happy, healthy and at your best.
3. Make changes: here are some quick wins
Look at your work life balance
In engineering, people talk about asset integrity, which means that you service the machinery before it breaks. In modern organizations, the work is thinking and the machinery is your brain. We know from cognitive science that there are hard limits to what the brain can deal with. And yet, there’s an awful lot in the way we work which flies in the face of that. We think that if we work through the night, we’re being very clever. We’re not. We think we can work long hours — month after month, year after year — and that there won’t be any wear and tear. But there is.
Career advice for millennials (and really, anyone) from Margaret Heffernan
It's a few months after graduation, which means the luckiest new college grads are knee-deep into internships and entry-level jobs. How to stand out? Business writer Margaret Heffernan suggests: Start by taking a coffee break with your coworkers. Companies grow best, she suggests, when workers are connected by social bonds.
Yes, as we now know there is a lot more to it than just taking holidays and working less. You could still feel stressed working 20 hours. Looking at the time spent on work and time spent on your personal life is a pretty good start and good for everybody (also when you don’t feel stressed. Let’s try to prevent it).
Take freedom and responsibility: find the right rhythm
We are a company with flexible working hours. This freedom comes with a responsibility. When we say that, a lot of people assume that they need to work a lot and really hard in exchange for that freedom. That is not what we are trying to say.
You have the responsibility to find out what rhythm works for you best, to be at your best. Simply because we believe not everybody works the same way. So do you have the rhythm which works best for you? We want everybody to be able to bring their child, cat or car to daycare. Not because we love cats in particular (yes we do), but we want nothing to get in your way of getting the most out of your day. The fact that we don’t care when and how many times you go to a doctor, psych or barber is not because we want to be the ‘cool employer’, but because you need your health to add value that day. So if that means visiting the barber once a week on Monday morning: please do.
It might help announcing changes in your rythm to your team. It makes it feel legit for you, and your team members can help you with it.
When rethinking your rhythm, keep this in mind:
- It is impossible to work 60 hours productively over a longer period of time. It hurts you and Intempt to work that much. If you are able to work 8 productive hours a day you should be proud of that. Sometimes it will be 6, sometimes 10: relax, it’s okay, You’re not working in a factory with time stamps.
- Be flexible. Some days you just don’t have it. You are not a machine. Of course, first you’ll take a walk and grab a double espresso or a Brew, but if that doesn’t work it’s okay. Go home. Go to the gym. Go play with your kid. Go kiting. Go for a walk in the forest. Anything, just don’t sit behind your desk to ‘make the hours’. That’s not helping anybody.
- Working at home vs. at Intempt HQ. Try to strike a balance between home/office. Meetings and brainstorms are best done face to face but a day of deep work is best done in a cafe or on an abandoned island with 4g.
- Rotate, change your pace. During the summer it can be nice to start at 6:30 and bike to the beach at 15.00h. During the winter, every morning might feel like a small hangover and you stroll into HQ at 10:00 after your first 2 cups of coffee.
Take care of your body and mind
Take holidays and days off.
This one seems obvious, but we know it’s not. We believe that working at Intempt is the Premier League, the creme de la creme :). That takes it’s toll and asks a lot from your body and mind. These two need time to recharge from your efforts. Make sure to build in moments of absolute rest during the year. It’s called a holiday. Make sure to take 4 weeks, and make sure at least 2 of those are in a row. Advice would be to really go away: studies show that this works best. There are some studies showing that taking regular holidays (every quarter) are very effective. So don’t wait 6 months to take 2 weeks. Also take a week every now and then.
Don’t work when you’re sick
When you have the flu, do not work. Get back to work when you are fully recovered. Don’t feel guilty about it (easier said than done, we know). Yes we miss you, but we can do it without you for a few days. Even better: with you being away, your team might have to rethink how certain things are done in your absence. It can cause a new (maybe better) way for tasks and responsibilities to be distributed and single points of failure can be discovered and fixed.
Food and exercise
Crucial to feeling well, is taking care of your body. Studies show that exercise is crucial when having a demanding job. That doesn’t mean we want you all to be fitgirls and fitboys. But: get moving. Go skating, hiking, biking, surfing, do yoga. Do something. Your body isn’t made to sit in a chair all day. Use the facilities at the office (standing desks and desk bikes) and try to go for a walk every day (is the 1on1-walk a thing yet?). The things you consume also affect this of course, no secrets there. Take care of yourself by consuming good stuff. No rocket science: just more veggies and water, less alcohol and smoking. Take care of yourself.
When something is wrong: go see a doctor:
Don’t wait too long to go see a doctor or therapist. It’s very normal to talk to a psychologist or coach every once in awhile. Just as normal as visiting a physiotherapist for back pain because you have an office job.
Setting priorities right and saying no (I know this is hard)
- You, your family, friends and loved ones
It’s important to know what the right order is. Your health comes first. Your loved ones come first. We want you to pay attention to your number 1 priority and have your private life in order. Because if it’s not, it will add to your stress level.
How does that look? Sometimes it’s better to skip a morning stand-up to visit a physio for your constant headache. You are acting in Intempt interest when doing this.
Check your work, job and role
Are you doing the right job? Do you get energy from what you are doing? Do you feel like you’re making a difference? Do you love most of it? Of course there will be stuff you don’t like, that’s totally normal. But are you doing things you are good at and you like? And is there enough challenge, perspective and room to grow?
Are you getting enough praise and feedback? Do you know what is expected from you? Do you know how you are doing at the moment?
It’s really important that you know how your team and team leads think you are doing. Ask them! What are you doing well, what needs to improve. Use the structure we came up with: 1on1’s, personal goals, feedback sessions, peer reviews. But feel free to alter them in order for them to work for you. Just don’t do nothing.
Last but not least: get informed.
There is a lot of information out there. Inform yourself. It will help you recognize a potential threat earlier and help you act on that.
Going to the Good Reads page is a great place to start :).
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