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The top tips to work without burnout in 2021

Compiling the top strategies shared in Sustain this year
The top tips to work without burnout in 2021
Photo by Tobias Tullius / Unsplash

Sustain issue #37 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

I’ve compiled the most popular ideas I’ve shared this year about how to work without burnout. Enjoy!

Take time off 100%. It’s counter-productive to stay plugged in while you’re off since you won’t actually recharge.

Resting isn’t weak, lazy, or unproductive. It’s how the most-productive people do the highest impact work. In French: reculer pour mieux sauter or “to withdraw in order to make a better jump”

Olympic psychologist rule for rest: Seek one hour of rest per day, two consecutive days a month, three consecutive weeks off once per year

Unprogram your rest and wellbeing. Toss away a life hack in favor of going outside without a destination or headphones. Draw without a plan. Read something for no specific reason. Make dinner without a recipe. Try the Three Good Pockets method.

Approach burnout from a holistic perspective. Jamming a bunch of surface-level life hacks you read about isn’t going to help. Start by slowing down and taking on less.

Burnout isn’t inevitable. It’s not a foregone conclusion of working. Success is not inextricably linked with working yourself to the point of burnout.

The amount of tasks you do and the total hours you work doesn’t help you get ahead. Doing high-impact work well helps you get ahead. And you can get ahead at work without overworking yourself.

We expend so much energy in pursuit of the capitalistic definition of ‘success’, we don’t have any in reserve to make decisions that are healthier for us and for the planet. And healthier outcomes for the planet are almost always the healthier outcomes for you.

My #1 tip for working without burnout is to redefine your definition of success. Choose agency of your time over money and power.  

Just because you can do something faster at work doesn’t mean you should.

If you’re in a job right now that you love, great! Keep enjoying it. But what if instead of loving it, you learn to just like it. Aim to simply like it as a mental reminder to prioritize work in your life after things and people you actually love.

You can be thankful for your job with no expectation that you must work all the time.

It’s never been so glamorized to leave your corporate job to start your own business. Instead, aim to find work you like good enough, that powers your lifestyle, and that gives you stress-free time to enjoy it. That may very well still be a corporate job.

Studies show that 38 hours a week is the sweet spot for your job. Work that doesn’t get prioritized in that time isn’t essential for the business and, thus, not essential for you.

Just as you should downsize your house when its size has reached the point of diminishing returns, you should also aim to downsize your relationship with work when the added size & scope isn’t serving your life positively.

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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