AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807

June 26, 2018

How to Avoid Burnout and Improve Time Management

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - There are days that the responsibilities for running a small business or meeting the demands of your employer can seem overwhelming.

As a result, the delicate balancing act of allocating time to work can result in too little time for family, personal interests and self care. In fact, some jobs work against the employee with odd work times or demands from outside organizations.

There are some strategies to avoid burnout and improve time management according to David Burton, a community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

"There are tools that can help with time management, which is really self-management. Time is a finite resource, but your efficiency in using that time can be improved with the use of some or all of the following techniques," said Burton.


The first step toward help with self-management is to keep a record, for one week, of all activities in 15-minute increments.

"I know, this seems like adding another task that isn't driving results, but you need to gather data before you can make meaningful decisions," said Burton.

Thoroughly examine the list, and then prioritize the activities according to your goals. Burton recommends using a 1 to 5 scale to weight how important an activity is to profitability, repeat business, customer satisfaction or other business goals.

"Every time I do this I discover areas where I am wasting time," said Burton. "It is normally with things that don't start out as a waste but then expand."


Continue to analyze the list to identify activities that only you can do effectively, and those that could be done by someone else.

"If you have employees, delegate. Spend some time training and setting the expectations, and then trust the employee to achieve the goals," said Burton.

Another step is examining whether or not you are using technology effectively to reduce the time you spend on low value tasks.

Burton says it is also important to identify which activities are strategic, and which are more firefighting. For example, do you may spend much time resolving customer complaints (firefighting) and less time analyzing the complaints and root causes (strategic).

"The goal should be to reduce the need for firefighting and schedule time for high level strategic thinking," said Burton.


It is also possible to underestimate the time requirements or difficulty levels of certain activities. In fact, the activity list should identify the actual time spent and those numbers might be a surprise.

"You need to know your limitations. At the same time, you should aim for high performance rather than maximum effort. Underestimating the time and difficulty of activities may result in sub-par performance due to lack of time," said Burton.

The goal of self-management is to find a balance. It is likely that 20 percent of your activities result in 80 percent of the value.

"Focus on high value activities that only you can do and look for alternative ways to accomplish the rest, if they are necessary activities at all," said Burton.

It is also a good idea to take a break, a walk, or a vacation, to recharge and return energized.


There are only 24 hours in your day. There is also vacation time to take an personal projects that need to be done.

There is also an opportunity cost for every choice made since spending time in one activity limits your ability to do other things.

"It is important to focus on the fact that success is equal to results, not effort. "You may be spending too much time on an activity that is personally satisfying, but not driving the results you want," said Burton.

For more information, contact any of these MU Extension community development specialists working in southwest Missouri: Amy Patillo in Greene County, (417) 881-8909; Michele Kroll in Camden County, (5730 346-2644 or David Burton in Greene County, (417) 881-8909.

Source: David Burton, (417) 881-8909

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