How can you avoid burnout?

Burnout is a phrase that we’re all pretty used to hearing – especially relating to recruitment. Your job is intense and can be emotionally and mentally draining at times, so it’s important to mitigate the potential for burnout so you can perform at your best (and also stay sane).

The last 18+ months have resulted in a lot of us feeling burnt out, so I wanted to highlight what you can do to avoid it. Think of this as a gentle reminder to look after yourself as we approach the end of this year, so we can all go in strong for 2022!

Tick off the “obvious” things first

It’s no secret that looking after your physical wellbeing directly impacts your mental and emotional wellbeing, thus how you’re able to perform at work. Although these are “obvious” things you can do to avoid burnout, they are crucial and shouldn’t be ignored.

Sleeping pattern

Whether you’re an early bird who likes to go to the gym in the morning, or you’re someone who works better at night, make sure that sleep is prioritised over anything else. Statistics aside, we all know that a good sleeping pattern enables you to perform better, rest and recharge, and generally just be more on the ball. We are so quick to sacrifice sleep to socialise, work more, or even have good intentions such as going to the gym. 

Some ways you can improve your sleeping pattern is by doing the following:

  • Creating a simple, easy to follow morning and night routine. 
  • Reduce your screen time, such as not using technology past 8pm or even switching off your phone.
  • Reduce caffeine intake, and switch to decaf after 2pm

TIP: Along with creating an easy-to-follow morning and night routine, aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to regulate your body clock!


Exercise can come in many shapes and forms, and instead of thinking of exercise as something that is a “chore” – you should view it as something that will naturally improve your wellbeing. 

The endorphins released can help with stress management and burnout, and naturally will make you feel better mentally. Exercise doesn’t have to be going to the gym 5x a week lifting weights, nor does it have to be an intense class leaving you exhausted. Try incorporating a daily walk into your routine, or going to a class once a week instead of 5. 

View exercise as something that contributes to your mental wellbeing, rather than something that has to give you a return (such as weight loss, muscle gain, or a better physique).

Avoid too much alcohol and going out

Although the holiday season is around the corner (and I know you’ll all be cracking open the wine and beers then), in general, avoid drinking too much and burning the candle at both ends. Even a casual drink here and there can mess up your sleeping pattern, and stop you from being able to function as well on a day-to-day basis.

Now, let’s get into the more technical things…

So, the obvious elements of avoiding burnout are all important to consider and implement, however, here are some more practical tips around recruitment and managing your desk that you should do to avoid burnout and ensure that you are finishing 2021 on a high note. 

Prioritise admin

Before you roll your eyes – I don’t like admin either. I don’t think anyone does! However, staying on top of your admin and ensuring that it doesn’t fall by the wayside will keep you organised and focused on what you need to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. 

Burnout can come from not understanding the tasks that you need to do, and instead panicking and not having any structure around them.

Organise your email inbox

  • Create folders so you can streamline your searches
  • Try and implement inbox zero to stay on top of them
  • Dedicate an hour of your time each day to clean up your inbox no matter what
  • Unsubscribe from any unnecessary emails that land in your inbox
  • If you’re a manager, reiterate to your team what you should be CC’d into

Use automations where you can

  • Use features such as Calendly to make scheduling calls easier 
  • Utilise your out of office both internally and externally so you can focus on prioritising tasks (instead of replying to emails)

TIP: Creating an internal out of office explaining when you will respond to all emails not only keeps the communication open, but it also reduces anxiety and stress around having to respond immediately. If something is that important, you will be called instead of emailed.

Plan the night before

We’ve spoken about planning extensively at Recruitment Mentors, from our mentor sessions through to the podcast. I can’t stress the importance of planning your day the night before so you can leave the office with a clear mind, knowing exactly what you need to accomplish the following day.

Whether it’s a to-do list you like to send yourself, or an email that will land in your inbox first thing in the morning – get into the habit of planning the night before so you can come into the day completely prepared.

TIP: Write your plan in chronological order, from the most important through to the least important so you can prioritise those tasks the moment you get into the office.

Set boundaries

Boundary setting can be difficult to master in recruitment, especially as things can change in the blink of an eye. However, if you don’t even try to set boundaries, burnout is going to be inevitable.

Do you need to go to that meeting?

Meetings, whether they’re virtual or in-person can be a huge drain on your time. Go through your diary at the beginning of each week and cancel (or reschedule) meetings that aren’t necessary. 

This could be a catch-up with a candidate/client which is premature, or it could even be internal meetings where you won’t get anything from it. 

Be stringent with your diary

Whether it’s booking calls or simply being away from your desk, be stringent with the time that you give away. If you know a call can take 15 minutes instead of 30, only allocate that in your diary so you are able to exit the call swiftly. 

Of course, don’t rush your calls or cancel on people last minute, but instead focus on how long it takes you to do something effectively and stick to that. We’ve all spoken to someone who we can have a “chat” with 15-20 minutes longer than we should, when in reality we should focus on being efficient with the time allocated to get the most out of the call/meeting.

Just because it’s urgent for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s urgent for you

This sounds harsh, but it’s important to remind yourself of – especially if you feel snowed under with work right now. In recruitment, we can be pulled from pillar to post, whether that’s internally or also with clients and candidates. 

Someone else’s disorganisation or lack of communication shouldn’t impose on your day or change the way you approach tasks. Always ask yourself how urgent a task is and set clear expectations if that task has been set by someone else.

Communicate with your manager/team

Whether you report into someone or you manage a team of your own, communicate your boundaries effectively and also explain why you’ve set them. Not only will this create better respect and trust amongst colleagues/peers, but you will also feel more at ease knowing that you have made this clear. 

Be intentional about taking breaks

Last, but certainly not least, make sure that you factor in time to take a break. Something I personally do is after every 2-hour sprint I have a 15 minute break scheduled in my diary, called “Breathe”. This stops me from becing back to back all day, every single day of the week.

Make space for yourself to take a breather, otherwise it won’t happen!

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