Personal burnout strategy and Early Indicators Dashboard – tips from Birgit Jürgenson

Personal burnout strategy tips from Birgit Jürgenson

Birgit Jürgenson was the second expert speaker at our webinar “How to avoid recruiter burnout. Effective time management for recruiters”. In this recap article, Birgit will provide additional exercises and techniques to try and improve your mental health and have a sustainable work life. You can read the first speaker, Tiina’s recap, here.

Birgit has worked in HR / Learning and Development in international organisations, including a hyper-growth startup that has become a unicorn (Wise). Since 2018, she has coached over 150 people through individual and group coaching programs. She has worked in various areas of HR, including recruiting, operations and learning & development.

During the webinar, we asked how good the attendees were at recognising signs or symptoms of burnout. Here are the responses:

  • 37% said that they are good at it;
  • 23% considered their skills “okay”;
  • 23% said that they could be better at it.

Birgit will help you figure out your personal burnout strategy, share insights on common themes that lead to burnout and how to tackle them, and lastly, she will give you a tool to observe the early signs and lead yourself better to prevent burnout – an Early Indicators Dashboard.

If your goal was burnout, how would you do it?

Firstly, let’s start with creating awareness around your personal burnout strategy. Think about what you would do if your goal were to burn out. Approach this like you are teaching a class on “How to burn out”. If you have experienced burnout before, think back on what led you to that.
Try to find three activities or approaches that contribute to your burnout.

Burnout formula

Some examples include:

  • Choose a results-focused role
  • Constantly think about work outside of working hours
  • Say ‘yes’ to helping others, even if your plate is full
  • Always book back-to-back interviews/meetings; skip lunches
  • Try to make everything perfect + criticise yourself if you don’t achieve it
  • Deprioritise things that bring joy/fill your cup: utsuwa

When you have a list, underline or highlight the ones that are under your control or you can influence.

This can be the foundation of your burnout strategy.

Some of the examples shared in the webinar chat

  •  “I highly recommend contributing all your success to luck and anything that goes wrong due to a lack of personal capabilities.” – Piret
  • “Deprioritise things that bring you joy / fill your cup + do something at work that I don’t love all the time + skip regular breaks and lunch.” – Mia-Alexandra
  • “Working for longer hours and not having time for hobbies that allow you to connect with yourself.” – Simoneta

Establish a strong foundation

Let’s use the car metaphor. You have a car, and you want that car to drive well. You can do a lot of work on the engine, but if you don’t have the right fuel or enough fuel in the tank, the car is not driving very far.

That is why you need a strong foundation. It may sound simple, but it is unfortunately often left in the background.

Basis of a strong foundation

  1. Sleep and rest: for example, you have breaks during the day when you don’t think about work
  2. Movement: regular exercise is especially important for office/seated jobs.
  3. Nutrition: don’t skip meals. Schedule them in your calendar.
  4. Social connections; joy/play: we need meaningful connections in our lives, and we do things just for the sheer joy and not thinking about achieving something.

Evaluate where you are with each of these points on a scale of 1-10. If you have a score below 7 on any of them, that should be the first thing to focus on.

Establishing priorities

Priorities are extremely important to establish so you have a clear understanding of what is an absolute necessity to get done, and they help you understand that you cannot do everything, especially at once.

  • Weekly review: impact/effort matrix; 20-80
  • Automate? Delegate? Outsource?
  • Make a realistic (!) daily to-do list (add timeframes)
  • Expect the unexpected – “buffer” time allocated to it
  • Celebrate wins
Impact-effort matrix

With the priorities list, you are able to look back and reflect on your achievements, celebrate wins, and plan for the future.
You can see how some activities require less input but give the most output. This will help you sort out the most value-added activities based on the effort level.

We tend to overplan our days, and adding timeframes helps avoid that. Give estimates, and if you see that all the tasks you have planned for the day won’t fit into your workday, you can drop some activities below the line.

Add buffers as well. People tend to underestimate how much time a task takes to complete.

A routine can create the feeling that it is a never-ending cycle with no reward or end to it. Take time and look back to celebrate wins. There definitely are some!

Setting boundaries

Examples of which kind of boundaries to set:

  • Stick to # of meetings/interviews that work for you
  • Saying “no” if not a priority or overloaded – next time someone comes and asks for something, don’t say “okay” but pause for a second and say that you need time to think about it. Think: “If I am saying ‘yes’ to this, what am I saying ‘no’ to?”
  • Working hours:
    • Schedule pauses
    • Agreement with yourself/close ones when you wrap up + switch off mentally;
      If you work in an office, leave the laptop in the office. If you’re working from home, put your computer out of sight.
      Delete or pause notifications on work-related apps on your phone to avoid looking at them outside your working hours.

Mindset and beliefs

  • What are the deeper beliefs/mindsets that fuel behaviours that take me to burnout?

A way to dig deeper into your mindset you can start by asking questions:

“What do I fear would happen if I stopped working this way?”
“If I don’t hit my goals, it’ll mean…”
“I have to…, or else…”

Working with a coach might be helpful to achieve the best resutls, as it can be difficult to understand your mindset and driving beliefs objectively.

Examples of beliefs

  • I need to work hard to be successful
  • Everything I deliver needs to be perfect
  • Imposter syndrome: “I am not good enough (and soon, others will figure it out)”
  • I should be further along in my life/career
  • If I fail, I AM a failure (outcome=identity/worth)
  • I have to be available/there when people need me
  • I am responsible for my colleagues’ feelings/stress level

Sometimes, the root of the problem lies somewhere where you didn’t think to look at first. The most recent example from Birgit’s coaching session was with a team lead who came to her with wanting to become better at time management. However, once they started digging more into it and looking at why the different tips and techniques hadn’t worked in her case, it turned out that the problem was her belief that she was responsible for the stress levels of her team. That led to her taking on tasks from others that weren’t her obligation, just to ensure her colleagues were feeling better. The root of the problem was in her belief, not her time management skills.

Early Indicators Dashboard

Going back to the car metaphor – even your car has warnings on the dashboard that let you know that you might be having a problem: e.g. it says, “Check the tire pressure”, and the fuel light comes on roughly 50 kilometres before you actually run out of fuel. So does your body – pay attention to these early warnings or signs on your personal dashboard to turn the direction around and avoid burnout.

To build your own dashboard that is easy to follow and keep an eye on, you need to answer the question: What are some early indicators that you’re on your way “down”? And identify 3-5 leading causes. 

Examples of indicators:

  • Skipping meals in the morning (no appetite/urgency)
  • Feel ‘meh’/low energy in the mornings
  • Difficult to fall asleep at night
  • Things I used to enjoy are less enjoyable/I don’t want to do them anymore
  • Sugar cravings
  • Don’t feel like going for my daily walk
  • No energy to play with my kids
  • Get headaches or tension in the shoulders
  • Get snappy/easily irritated

For Birgit, she noticed that her sleep patterns are affected first. She also gets snappy or easily irritated and loses empathy towards others. Monitoring these behaviours helps avoid long-term stress that can lead to burnout.

Early Indicators Dashboard example

Habit-tracking apps are available, but a simple spreadsheet also helps.
You can track it daily and weekly – find which works best for you and how often you need to monitor it.

Daily early indicators dashboard example

Share the indicators with people close to you. It can be difficult to notice the changes yourself, so that’s how others can help you.

Burnout dashboard example

What can employers do to support their employees?

Many companies, especially startups, focus on mental well-being more and more. There are mental health weeks or retreats to increase awareness.

But the simplest way to do this is to incorporate a question about mental health into the 1:1 meetings. Start with a simple question like: “How are you feeling on a scale of 1-10?” and then track it or monitor it and see how you can contribute to increasing the score.

How can recruitment software help you?

Book a free product tour with one of our consultants and see how you can reduce the list of tasks and activities that take up a lot of time and energy. Our consultants can show you different ways to automate your tasks, including scheduling, sending feedback and updates, etc.

Want to see and hear the webinar in full? Watch the recording here.

Sign up for the newsletter below so you won’t miss any upcoming webinars, workshops or fresh resources! 👇

Merilyn Uudmae


Content Marketing Manager

Read about author
Next up

Achieve work happiness and avoid recruiter burnout – tips from Tiina Saar-Veelmaa

Read more
Work happiness formula by Tiina Saar-Veelmaa