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Avoiding Burnout: The Personal Balanced Scorecard

More people are working longer hours as a result of the blurring of lines between home and work during the pandemic, studies show.

Researchers from NYU Stern School of Business and Harvard Business School studied anonymized data reflecting the work habits of more than 3 million people across 16 cities, which showed people worked almost 50 minutes more each day, compared to the pre-COVID period.

While on an occasional basis, working a bit longer day is not a bad thing -- on an extended basis, it can set us up for burnout. We work so much that we don’t take care of other needs.

(This is why taking time off is so important -- and it can help us get ahead at work. See my recent article, Getting Ahead at Work: Yes, Take That Staycation This Year.)

Moreover, the lack of formal boundaries around working hours during COVID contributes to the issue, CBS News reported in sharing the findings above, and some people also may feel financial pressures to work more in an uncertain economy.

One way we can forestall burnout is to use the Personal Balanced Scorecard (PBS) -- by tapping into our own self-awareness about what we’re prioritizing and to shift when we’re out of balance. This awareness and the resulting shift lets us continue to be healthy by resting physically and mentally, by pursuing nonwork activities that we enjoy, and by engaging with family and friends -- all factors that contribute to good immune health and overall wellbeing.

The PBS is a version of the Balanced Scorecard that’s often used in nonprofit settings. The organizational version of the Balanced Scorecard focuses on your mission, vision, and values anchored by four elements: 1) Financial, 2) Customers, 3) Internal Business Processes, and 4) Learning & Growth.

The “balanced” part is what’s key -- the elements receive equivalent consideration. I first came across the Personal Balanced Scorecard in the EQ Action Log, an excellent journal/guidebook by Mimi Frenette that’s available from Six Seconds.

Frenette reconfigures the four quadrants into these four areas:

The Personal Balanced Scorecard

(Examples from Frenette, with a few additions of my own)

The “Balance” aspect of PBS is the most important point and it also is beneficial because it allows us to tap into our optimism -- which is essential in challenging times like these. See also my recent article, The Six Habits of Resilient Leaders.

If you’re an organizational leader, you can share these resources with your team and encourage them to apply them. Feature them as part of a team check-in or All Hands meeting. When we prioritize our own wellbeing and those of others, we are able to be more effective in all parts of our lives. (Waterford leads workshops and Lunch-and-Learn sessions in Emotional Intelligence that draw on these and other practical resources, all based on the science of EQ.)

Bonus: Here’s a second version of the PBS if you are a more spreadsheet-oriented kind of person. In fact, Christina Wallace wrote about the Personal Balanced Scorecard in a popular Forbes article. She highlighted its value as part of a year-end check-in, but I would wager it’s valuable at any time and may be a good tool to use as a periodic self-check-in.

Personal Balanced Scorecard in Spreadsheet format

Can we help with building and sustaining the talent pipeline in your organization? Reach out to Beth Offenbacker, Ph.D., at or via phone or text at 703-623-4811 to discuss if our Executive/Leadership Coaching or Talent Management services are right for you. We work with organizations of all sizes and types whose missions focus on sustainable objectives. All services are customized to your needs.

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