2 min read

How I created a burnout-free environment for myself at work

How to use your power as an employee to build the boundaries that you deserve
How I created a burnout-free environment for myself at work
Photo by Héctor J. Rivas / Unsplash

Sustain issue #23 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

Like me, I’m sure you’re feeling the weight and the uncertainty of the pandemic creeping back bigger and better than ever. It’s a good time for a reminder that you have permission to take on less, move a bit slower, rest, and accept a day that might not be your day.

Stretching and trying to take on more when you’re at the end of your fuse is a recipe for disaster. On that note, now’s a great time to really think about the environment and what you need to succeed at work.

Creating rights for wellbeing

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been leading a committee to develop the hybrid work model in my department (when safe to operate). We’re answering questions like how much we’ll be in office, norms for inclusive communication, and how we can ensure collective well-being.

And we’re guided by the idea that the kind thing to do is to develop explicit norms since work becomes really stressful and hard to navigate when there are implicit (or assumed) expectations that drive our behavior.

Our proposal includes making clear there is no expectation to stay logged into work apps (i.e. email and Slack) outside of working hours or while on vacation, the suggestion of taking breaks during the day, moving personal cell phone use for urgent outside of hours situations only, having a defined approach to nearing or reaching personal capacity, and more.

How to advocate for your wellbeing

I share this since it got me thinking about what we all have the power to advocate for in this unique moment. Leaders are deeply worried about people quitting right now so it’s the perfect time to suggest explicit boundaries that will allow you the peace of mind for daily restoration so you can log on tomorrow stronger.

You might feel ambitious and want to take on this work for your company, department, or immediate team. But at minimum, I’d suggest you write out your personal well-being at work manifesto and discuss it with your boss. Assuming you don’t have outsized expectations, they’d be crazy to push back much.

However, if you get pushback, use this line: “This plan will allow me to do the best work I can when I’m working and give me the time and space to recuperate, during this continuous uncertain time, so I can keep bringing value to the team for a long time.”

Employees are in the driver's seat more than ever before. Ask for what you need to work without burnout. Good luck!

At a sustainable pace,


Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to end burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) who suffered deep burnout and came back from it with no help of the hacky advice out there.

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