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As a former corporate employee turned entrepreneur and investor, one habit helped me beat burnout despite a demanding career: a consistent monthly budgeting routine.
According to a study of women in the workforce by McKinsey & Company, 43% of women leaders are burned out, compared to only 31% of men at their level.
Yet, when remedies are discussed on how to combat the symptoms of burnout, we are often given the generic advice to practice self-care or maintain boundaries without the realistic condition that most people must show up to work in order to pay their bills.
Burnout Is On The Rise Despite Increased Workplace Flexibility
You’ve likely heard the term used casually before, but according to the World Health Organization, burnout is a syndrome with a more detailed definition. It’s a condition resulting from workplace stress and it’s characterized by a three dimensional combination of feelings:
- energy exhaustion or depletion;
- negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced effectiveness in one’s profession.
Since the Future Forum started measuring employee burnout in May 2023, it is still on the rise globally: 42% of the workforce reported experiencing the condition — a slight 2% uptick from the previous quarter and an all-time high.
Budgeting Helps Practice Anti-Perfectionism In A Tangible Way
Almost 30% of Americans don’t budget because they don’t think they need to, according to a survey by Credit.com.
As a financial educator, I learned more people than I expected avoid budgeting because the way we might have traditionally learned how to do it makes us feel bad about ourselves — stressed, anxious, sad, frustrated or even angry.
The first time I did a budget, it took hours to get everything together because my husband and I were trying to look at so many different line items. I was easily frustrated when my budget didn’t add up perfectly, or when I felt like I wasn’t being disciplined enough to stick to it.
Perfectionism is linked to anxiety and decreased mental health and the habit of budgeting every month taught me that 80% success is good enough. By lowering my expectation from perfect to good enough, I have now consistently done a monthly budget since July 2016.
I’ve never once had a budget that went 100% according to plan, and over time I learned that mistakes or unexpected events weren’t as detrimental as I thought they would be. That mentality started extending to my career as well, learning to submit work and complete projects and deliverables that are good enough versus perfect.
Budgeting For Self-Nourishment Can Encourage You To Execute On Your Health Goals
Whenever I mention the word budget to new financial education students, they often assume that it’s restrictive rather than liberating. But an effective budget requires allocating funds toward taking care of your physical and mental health, in order for your routine to be sustainable over the long term.
Before I practiced a regular budgeting routine, I worked 50 hours or more a week and then would only schedule any health-related appointments when I was well into burnout symptoms.
When I started to plan my personal care expenses alongside my basic ones, I learned I could afford these even though they felt luxurious, as long as I planned to do them at the beginning of the month, rather than ad hoc.
Now, I allocate at least 25% of my monthly budget toward healthy activities that revive me including physical therapy and mental health counseling. Those items are non-negotiable — both on my budget and my schedule.
Budgeting Forced Tough Conversations About Equity And Work At Home
With the increase of remote work, women at all levels are still far more likely than men to be responsible for more caregiving and their family’s housework.
Even when I was producing more income than my husband, I still felt the majority of the responsibility to keep our home organized and well-maintained. I often resented times when our family members asked him about his career advancement but asked me about having kids.
Now that my husband and I have budgeted together for more than seven years, we use that routine to not only allocate our time, but also to divide our housework and caregiving responsibilities as equitably as possible, with both our work schedules in mind.
And when neither of us has the capacity, we outsource tedious tasks that used to burn us out: grocery shopping, laundry, housekeeping and lawn maintenance. Even though I was raised to think these chores were ones I should do myself, I learned to pay for the chores to get done when I was exhausted rather than pay with my mental health.
If you’re on the brink of burnout, or are already there, I strongly encourage you to reframe your view of budgeting from a burdensome task to a way of freeing up not just your money, but your time and energy to live more than you work.