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How to Overcome Burnout and Reignite Your Passion as an Executive Assistant

Burnout is a common and challenging experience that many Executive Assistants face. When your job requires you to proactively think about others’ needs at every step, it’s easy to put your own wellbeing on the back burner. Whether you’re on your way to burnout or stuck in the thick of it — we’ve got some tips to help.

Ditch burnout and reignite your passion

In our recent Base Live panel, two EA thought leaders shared their experiences with burnout and advice for how to overcome it:

  • Liv Wilson – Senior EA to the Head of APAC at Slack
  • Jo-Ann Conrod – Executive Assistant in Financial Advisory at Deloitte Canada

Watch the full replay below or keep reading for the highlights from the conversation!

How to recognize and overcome burnout as an assistant

Here are the three biggest takeaways from our panel discussion. Got any to add? Join our Executive Assistant Community and connect with assistants across the globe who are navigating similar challenges and experiences.

Recognize the signs that you need a break

Oftentimes we find ourselves in the thick of burnout without ever realizing how we got there in the first place. That’s why it’s so important that we make a conscious effort to pay attention to the subtle shifts — so we can take notice when things start to go off-track. 

Liv shares an analogy of a vehicle that’s low on gas. Our cars give us a warning that gas is low and we need to refill the tank, and to ignore that puts us in danger that the car is just going to stop working at some point. Burnout is exactly the same. When we can start to recognize those warning signs in our own lives, we’ll be more equipped to fix things early on before we’re stuck. 

It’s also important to note that everyone has their own signs and symptoms of burnout. For Jo-Ann, burnout manifested itself as lack of sleep and cognitive changes. Meanwhile Liv experienced skin changes and less creativity. Paying attention to your own mind and body is key to knowing when it’s time to slow down.

Set strong boundaries between work and life

One of the most difficult components of recovering from burnout is getting yourself the time and space you need to recover. But even before you’re in the throes of burnout, you should be thinking about where you can set stronger boundaries to keep yourself in check. 

For example, Jo-Ann sets clear rules for herself that she won’t answer her phone or read messages after 5pm. She makes sure all her leaders know not to expect any communication from her outside of her core work hours. This is a strong boundary she sets to ensure she doesn’t let work bleed into her personal life. 

Liv also reminds us that a huge component of setting better boundaries is communication. You should be clear with your leaders and coworkers about your boundaries, and also don’t be afraid to say “No”. This is often a scary thing to do. But in the long run, people will learn to respect your limits as long as you’re consistent.

Remember energy goes both ways

Finally, it’s important to remember that energy goes both ways. Burnout often comes from constantly putting out energy without taking any back in return — we expend our energy to the point of exhaustion. So it’s key to find ways to bring in energy, too. 

This can look like making time every week for things you enjoy and that bring you energy. Whether that’s playing a sport with your friends or reading a book. Making time for these things is imperative to making sure we’re “recharging” ourselves and filling our cups back up after hard hours of work. 

Liv also reminds us that we need to ask for energy back from our leaders, as well. Because the Executive Assistant role is so nuanced and requires us to support others who have never been in the EA roles themselves, sometimes it’s extra challenging to get what you need from your manager. That’s why it’s even more important to ask and communicate. Consider whether you need additional positive feedback, more creative projects, or something else to get your energy back at work — and then ask for it! 

Reignite your passion for being an Executive Assistant

If you’re an EA looking to save time and focus your energy on more impactful work, we’ve got just the thing. The Base platform was built by EAs, for EAs to create one go-to place to organize, communicate, and take action. Sound interesting? Get a demo of Base and see what we’re all about.

You can also check out our resources for EAs, training programs, and job opportunities

Written by Bryn Smith

Bryn is the Senior Marketing Manager at Base, where she connects the EA community with top thought leaders, resources, and insights to support them in their careers.