Progress, Not Perfection

Posted on August 2, 2018

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Today’s Morning Buzz is all about burnout.

Right Now with Daniel A. Soto (LinkedIn/Twitter)

What I’m Listening to – Migos – Stir Fry

What I’m Watching – I recently finished binge-watching Riverdale (thanks Ben Kittelson).

What I Did this Weekend – I took a quick road trip to Modesto, a large city in the Central Valley in California. The city was great, the vibe was alright, and the food was amazing. I’ll definitely be back. 

How to Deal with Job-Related Burnout


What is burnout? According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the term “burnout” was coined in the 1970s by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger to describe the consequences of severe stress and high ideals in “helping” professions—such as nurses or teachers. For the purpose of this Morning Buzz, “burnout” will be defined as a type of work-related stress that includes the following three feelings: emotional exhaustion, reduced accomplishment, depersonalization—which means feeling cynical about the people you’re supposed to care enough about to serve.

After having experienced burnout at work (don’t even get me started), I took time to look into resources to combat it. Below are some of my go-to tips for how to handle burnout.

Take care of your body.

I know this is rudimentary, but here it goes: you need to take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, sleep regularly, take charge of your mental health, etc.

Identify the core issues that are causing your burnout.

What do the scholars say? According to my research, there are six main problem areas that are likely to cause burnout:

  1. Workload: you’re drowning in work and can never catch up.
  2. Control: You feel like you have no choice in your duties, process, or deadlines.
  3. Rewards: You feel like you’re being taken advantage of. There is little reward to your work.
  4. Fairness: Your work environment is unjust.
  5. Community: There is a lack of support and camaraderie from peers.
  6. Values: You work against your conscience or morals.

Do something to fix your problem(s).

Find a way to make your job better. If you see a problem, propose some solutions—and make sure to share them respectfully and tactfully.

If you can’t fix your problem(s), leave.

I promise that my intent is not to sound harsh. Do your due diligence and try to make things better. If they don’t improve, consider looking for another job.

Shift your expectations. 

This is a big one for me. One of my former city managers used to always say, “progress, not perfection” when commenting on any movement that our organization made on an issue. While it may be ideal to want to fill all of the potholes within the city limits, it may not be realistic. Shift your expectations, but don’t necessarily lower them.


Micro-Managers: It’s okay to delegate. I promise. You and your organization will be fine. Convey trust in people’s competence to do their jobs—and they will deliver.

Diversify your time after work. 

Do things you want to do, not just more things you should do. Take a look at your routines and change them.

Note: The word should implies guilt. Don’t feel guilty for spending time on things that you want to do.

Use your vacation time.

Should I say more?

Stop accruing vacation time for the sole purpose of accruing it. If you’re fortunate enough to be in a position that provides the benefit of paid time off, use it.

It sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? If you’re interested, I encourage you to do some additional research on this topic.

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