5 tips for the overworked and underappreciated

Burnout can happen if you don’t take steps to avoid it. Even if it’s overtaken you, there’s help. Follow these guidelines.

You’ve been working your fingers to the bone—extra hours, extra work, extra everything—except extra recognition and appreciation. It seems like no one notices the hard work you put in.

However you ended up in this situation, there are things you can do to get it under control.

One thing to remember, as Roxanne Peplow of Computer Systems Institute points out, is that “you cannot seek praise from others—it has to come from within.”

Rather than waiting to be praised, be proud of your own accomplishments. Shed light onto your achievements, and give credit where it’s due.

“If you feel that you are doing more than what is expected of you and it isn’t being recognized, you are making yourself a victim. When you victimize yourself, it’s impossible to be positive,” Peplow says.

Here’s what you can do instead:

1. Speak up

If you’re overworked, speak up. “Many employees and workers mistakenly believe their job is at stake if they say they can’t handle one more project. More projects equals less focus, less quality,” says Steve Duffy, president of ListHere.com.

Duffy, like most managers, would rather have an employee deliver great results rather than take on too much and fall short.

If you’re swamped, reexamine your workload. See if there are smart ways to prioritize and minimize work. Or if you’re stuck doing the workload of two people, don’t be a hero, and tell your manager. He wants to know.

2. Do something you love—even if it’s after hours

Balance in other areas of life can make or break your workplace happiness. Fast Company Create recently did a piece on why you should have a passion project on the side. Creative Director Adam Rubin at Firstborn and children’s book author told Fast Company Create that having a side project is not only personally gratifying but also translates positively back to his work.

For him, writing children’s books on the side “is an excellent exercise in simplicity and rhythm. It has helped me improve the brevity, clarity, and pacing of my writing,” he says in the article.

3. Stop taking on extra work from slackers

If you’re overworked because your colleague isn’t doing his share, enough is enough. Don’t wait until you’ve reached a boiling point, says Joseph Grenny, co-author of the New York Times best-seller “Crucial Confrontations.”

He led a study that found that 93 percent of employees work with people who don’t pull their weight, but only 10 percent confront their underperforming colleagues. Solution: Either just say no, or report it to your boss. (See No.1.)

4. Get enough sleep

When you’re overworked, sleep is probably the first thing to go.

“Work can keep us up at night by worrying about what is next or by staying up because work still needs to be accomplished,” says Chris Ohlendorf, partner at Versique Search and Consulting.

Realize that the more sleep you lose, the closer you are to burnout.

5. If all of the above fails, start your job search

If your boss is simply not budging, you have no time to balance your life and all your colleagues are slackers, it may be time to jump ship.

Just make sure you’re not job searching on company time, warns Lida Citroen, personal branding and reputation management expert of LIDA360.

Her advice: “Networking—online and in person—and studying industries, companies, and business leaders will help you become more proactive in your career,” she says.

Do unto the company…

Duffy also offers some final words of wisdom for those of you who have reached the point of no return—treat any company the way it is treating you.

“Remember that a company only hires you because you can add value to their bottom line,” Duffy says. If the company is no longer propelling your career forward, find a new employer.

Chalk it up to a lesson learned—and in future interviews, make sure you ask questions that will help you determine whether or not that company will treat you the same way. Ask:

  1. How would you describe your management style?
  2. How did this position become available?
  3. What kind of recognition system is at play here?
  4. Can you tell me about the growth opportunities available to the employees here?

A version of this article first appeared on CareerBliss.

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