Feeling burned out?

Richard Branson with Virgin team members, posing for the photo
Image by Owen Billcliffe
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 25 January 2019

Do you feel tired, unmotivated, or that small tasks have become overwhelming? You might be feeling burned out. 

Richard Branson reading on a sofa on Necker Island
Image by Owen Buggy

Work has changed so much since I started out, more than five decades ago. Technology has given us the freedom to work anywhere, at any time. But that doesn’t mean we should be compulsively checking our emails 24 hours a day. Many people seem unable to tell the difference between what is important and urgent, and what can wait. You can’t operate at full-speed all of the time and not give yourself time to rest - you will burn out. The negative effects burn out can have on your health can be startling – and, like most things, prevention is easier than cure. 

Richard speaking into a mic on a panel alongside Tom McAlpin
Image from Virgin Voyages

I know how easy it is to get caught up in the excitement of life - there’s so much going on around the Virgin Group, all of the time. Whether it’s a peek behind the scenes at our Virgin Voyages’ cruise ship, a Virgin Hotel opening or a spaceflight, I love the buzz of it all and it can be really hard to switch off. 

Richard Branson announces the launch of Virgin Hotels Edinburgh
Image by PA/Rob Perry

Burnout is a big problem for business and I’ve always believed that if you look after your people, they will look after your customers. At Virgin Management, we’ve implemented a Digital Detox sessions on a Wednesday, where people are locked out of their inboxes and encouraged to switch off and engage in other activities away from their screens. We also fully embrace flexible working and believe giving people more options on how, when and where they work will only continue. Most people are either already working flexibly, or wish they could.

In my everyday life, balance is what stops me burning out. I don’t see work and play as separate – it’s all living. I make time to exercise and I usually start my day with a bit of tennis, a gym workout or a kitesurf. It means I have to get up early, but it’s so worth it to start the day feeling energised and like I have already had some time to myself. 

Richard Branson and the rest of the Necker Open contestants posing for the camera
Image from Manuela Davies/Necker Cup

It’s important when you’re planning your diary to make sure you have that important down-time. When I travel I like to pack in as much as possible to make the most out of every moment. I love visiting our Virgin people all around the world and keeping up to date with what’s going on. But these really hectic days are often followed by a few days of rest, usually back at home.

I also take little breaks throughout the day. I have a cuppa, chat with those around me and take short walks. It all helps keep things in perspective. When you feel burned out, your perspective can take the biggest hit. When I take a break, I take a break from all things digital. Put down the phone. Stop checking social media. Even if you have a really busy day, taking five minutes for some mindfulness, reading a book or having a cuppa can be all you need to reset.

How do you stop yourself from burning out?