Being burned out at work is a serious issue that I’m sure many people have faced. If you don’t feel energized or enthusiastic about your job anymore or like you’re just going through the motions, this post is for you. As someone who’s been working with professionals for over 20 years as a psychologist and a burnout coach, I’ve learned a lot. Take this opportunity to find out 7 reasons why you could be burned out at work and what you can do about it.


 The workplace is supposed to be a place where you can thrive and grow professionally. Unfortunately, many people find themselves burned out at work, which can lead to depression and even physical illness. If you’re feeling burned out at work and it’s interfering with your productivity and happiness, there are endless possibilities as to why that might be the case.  

To make it easier to digest, I’ve broken “burnout” down into 7 different areas. Here they are:








You’re Blocked

The workplace is full of challenges that make you want to quit your job. When you’re blocked from being able to live up to your full potential, the frustration you feel can lead you to burn out.

Here are 10 ways you might be held back at work:


1) You work with teammates that have poor time management skills and procrastinate. They take forever to get things done and make you feel like you’re always playing catch up. They also drag you into their messes by constantly asking for your help because they don’t know how to handle situations on their own. They ask for help when they need it last minute and expect everyone else to pick up the slack. This type of behavior leads to stress for everyone involved (and you’re no exception) because there is no clear sense of responsibility for tasks or deadlines.

What can you do? 

You have a lot on your plate without having to take on other people’s messes. That said, you cannot control those around you. But what if the reason you’re blocked has nothing to do with you? 

If your colleagues’ lack of timeliness is what is holding you back, you’ll need to create clearly defined tasks and timetables for the team. In addition, it’s important to hold everyone accountable for their part. Having a regular check-in is helpful to ensure everyone is doing their part and to problem-solve whenever there is a roadblock. 

2) Perhaps your colleagues distract you from doing your work. Sometimes our colleagues are just more fun than our actual jobs! We like chatting with them and sharing stories over lunch or after work drinks, but these interactions can be distracting from getting things done during the day. 

What can you do? 

Set boundaries around how much time you’re going to spend socializing outside of work so that it doesn’t become a distraction from getting things done during business hours and make sure everyone else does too. While you’re at the office, allow yourself time to socialize with colleagues, but be intentional about when you do so and for how long. A great way to deal with this is to schedule time to catch up over lunch breaks.

3) Have you experienced discrimination at work? If you’re a woman or a person of color and your colleagues don’t take your ideas seriously because of your gender or race, it can be hard to stay motivated. In fact, 38 percent of women report being sexually harassed at work

But discrimination comes in many flavors. It’s not just about your race, gender, or color. You can be discriminated against because of your sexual orientation or a physical or mental disability as well. It can also be that you are denied certain benefits such as disability or parental leave. Unfortunately, these practices aren’t only happening at the office. In a recent poll, 80 percent of workers reported being discriminated against even while working remotely. 

Discrimination can also make it more difficult to meet deadlines and stay focused on your work — two factors that contribute to burnout over time. 

What can you do?

 If you’re being treated unfairly for reasons related to your gender, race, sexual orientation or other protected characteristics, that’s illegal. You can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state’s civil rights agency if you suspect discrimination at work. You don’t have to put up with harassment.

4) There aren’t enough resources for you to do your job well. There may not be sufficient time, money, or whatever else is needed to make sure you can get your work done right away without having to worry about doing other people’s jobs as well as your own (or worse yet, having other people doing yours while they sit around watching Netflix all day).  This can happen for a variety of reasons, including budget constraints or even just ignorance about what’s truly needed to get the job done. 

What can you do?

Whatever the reason, if you feel like there aren’t enough resources available for you to do your job well, then talk with your boss about it. They may not even realize how much they’re asking from you — but if they do know that they’re asking too much from their employees, they’ll need this conversation so they can figure out how to fix it.  In addition, you may be missing technology systems. If you’re identified technology that could support performance management processes or collaboration tools that allow your teams to share ideas, ask questions, and provide feedback with one another during project development stages, ask for these resources so that issues can be addressed before they become bigger problems down the road. Sometimes managers just need to be introduced to proposed solutions to implement change.

5) Your boss micromanages your every step. While this behavior may be more about your boss than about you, if you desire more autonomy, you’ll be unhappy so long as your boss is constantly breathing down your neck and monitoring your every move. 

What can you do?

You really don’t like feeling like you’re on a short leash. Try asking for a promotion or switch to another role within the company where there’s more freedom. Sometimes it can be as simple as switching teams if you know the style of management that works best for you. 

6) You’re not challenged enough by your job. It might be that you’ve been doing the same tasks over and over to the point where you feel like you can do them in your sleep. It might also be that your job description doesn’t match your skill set, so you’re bored or frustrated with what you do every day at work. When you’re not as challenged as you would like, you can easily burn out. 

What can you do?

Being bored can be a wake up call that you not only want more, but you need more. But this isn’t about quantity. It’s about quality. Aspire to find tasks to engage in that lead to learning, goal attainment, competence, or mastery.  

7) You don’t have clear goals for your career path at the company where you work. You feel like you’re stagnating in the same position year after year — and there aren’t any opportunities for promotions or raises on the horizon either.

What can you do?

 It’s important to have clarity about your role expectations as well as your projected growth over time. Take time to consider where you would like to be in your career in 1, 3, 5, and even 10 years and then work backwards to figure out what you need to focus on to fill the gaps. Consider working with a mentor or a career coach to help you hone in on the right skills and tasks. 

8) Your company culture is toxic — or just plain wrong for you — but there’s no way out of it because of strict employment contracts or other complicated reasons beyond your control (like being trapped in a contract). This happened to a friend of mine. She was so desperate to find a job at one point that she signed a contract with her employer even though the contract stipulated that if she left before the end of two years, that she would have to pay the company thousands of dollars. Once she started working there, she realized how miserable she felt, but then she had to either stay and suffer or leave and pay up.

What can you do?

The answer to this will depend on what makes your experience at work feel toxic. If it’s because you don’t feel valued, the solution may be asking for more direct feedback. But chances are that if you classify your work environment as “toxic,” you’re being subjected to verbal abuse or harassment at work. 

I’m a big proponent of working to maximize your experiences before you jump ship, but when mistreatment and abuse are conditions no one should have to encounter. Speak to your human resources representative and if there is no resolution, it may be time to look for a new job.   

9) Your boss doesn’t support you or give feedback often enough; or maybe your manager is too critical of everything that comes from your desk instead of offering constructive criticism. In either case, you’re either not growing due to insufficient feedback or growing resentful because you’re being blasted without mercy. 

What can you do?

Feedback is essential for you to be able to fine-tune your performance. While it is true that you came to the job with a particular skill set, you must fit into the company culture and need guidance about how to tweak your actions accordingly. To be effective, feedback needs to be specific, accurate, and timely. If you’re not getting this sort of feedback or any at all, ask for it. 

10) You don’t have control over your schedule and are often pulled away from your work during peak hours. This can make it extra challenging to complete tasks efficiently leading to delays or it can negatively affect your productivity.

What can you do?

The answer to this will depend on your role expectations. For instance, if you’re an emergency room physician or nurse, you may not have much control over the hours you work because you’re expected to work 12-hour shifts. If that’s you, perhaps you can choose which days and with what frequency you want to take on shifts relative to your life outside of work. 

Most people facing this challenge, however, may find there is more they can do about it. Sometimes, all it takes is having clarity about what you need to do your best work and asking for it by stating your case. If you’re someone who works best in the mornings, ask to have undisturbed periods of time to get your most important tasks completed before you’re pulled into meetings or other aspects of your job.


Being blocked is only one of seven potential reasons why you’re burning out at work. That said, there are various circumstances that may lead you to feeling blocked. Now that you can identify them for what they are and have suggestions of what to do, my hope is that you feel empowered enough to take steps to get unblocked to avoid burnout.

(Be sure to come back and read the following weeks’ blog articles for additional sources of burnout).


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