Earn Work-Life Balance

How To Avoid Burnout With Ali Abdaal

Haley Paskalides  |  February 28, 2024

How Ali Abdaal, one of the world’s most-followed productivity experts, tells us how to avoid burnout and make work more fun.

We’ve all heard it time and again from the world’s biggest success stories: They worked crazy hours, gave up their friendships, and kept their nose to the grindstone for years before they got their big break. What are they telling us?  Essentially, you’ll never succeed unless you’re willing to give up everything else to get there, and there’s no way to avoid burnout. In other words, suffering is what leads to success. But we’ve also seen that this mentality can cause burnout, depression, or stepping away from a career that you thought you loved. 

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According to Gallup, 68% of Gen Z and younger millennials report feeling stress a lot of the time at work, and nowhere is this more evident than in the healthcare industry. A recent study from the CDC found that hundreds of thousands of medical workers have left their jobs in recent years due to long hours, high turnover, violence in emergency departments, and stress from the Covid-19 pandemic. The study also found that less than 30% of healthcare workers described themselves as very happy, and more than a third reported symptoms of depression. 

Ali Abdaal knows exactly what this feels like — when you don’t know how to avoid burnout, and you come home exhausted at the end of every workday.  As a junior doctor and a recent graduate from Cambridge University, he was doing everything he could to keep up, but was mentally and emotionally breaking. 

After turning to the world’s leading experts on productivity for guidance, he found that the “just keep grinding” mentality wasn’t going to work for him (or any of his colleagues) so he set out to master productivity on his own. “I always had this thing of If I could just manage my time appropriately enough, then I would be able to do it all,” Abdaal says. “Then I realized very quickly that time management only takes you so far. And it was a lot less about time and a lot more about energy and enjoyment.” 

LISTEN: Your 2024 Happiness Reset

In his new book: “Feel-Good Productivity: How to Do More of What Matters to You,” Ali Abdaal describes how to avoid burnout — and he lays out the three P’s that we can use to make our work more enjoyable (and ultimately become more productive): Play, Power, and People. 

Abdaal says that play is one of the most underrated productivity tactics out there. He actually has a post-it note on his desk that says, “What would it look like if this were fun?” to remind him to take his work less seriously. “It sounds like a frivolous question, but genuinely, you can take anyone doing the most menial, grim task imaginable, and if you ask them this question, you can always come up with ways,” Abdaal says. 

Listen in to hear Abdaal’s advice on how to avoid burnout using all the “P’s” to master productivity, and the number one question he asks himself every day. In Mailbag, we hear from a listener who’s looking for advice on how to recover mentally and emotionally after being laid off, and we check in with someone who bought iBonds in the early 2000s and is wondering if she can use them to pay for higher education. In our money tip of the week, what NOT to do with the money if you got a bonus or a raise at work this year. 


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All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416

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