How to Prevent Burnout Using Timeboxing

We’re facing a burnout epidemic that goes beyond work. Understanding its causes can help us fix it.

Nir Eyal
Published in
5 min readMar 16, 2022


Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

A 2021 Indeed survey shows 52% of 1,500 American respondents say they feel burned out, compared with 43% the year prior; 67% believe that burnout worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s not surprising.

People who worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic ended up working more: The same Indeed survey found 53% of virtual employees work more hours now than they did in the office.

That nationwide job burnout inspired two movements: the Great Resignation — a record number 47.4 million Americans voluntarily quit their job in 2021 — and doing the bare minimum at work.

Job burnout isn’t the only kind of burnout.

Burnout can also rear its head in our relationships domain, especially in parenting, caretaking, or romantic relationships, all of which were challenged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Romantic relationships were put to the test as many found themselves spending unlimited time together without a break. Parents tried to care for their kids, help them navigate virtual schooling, and work at the same time, in the same space.

The lines between every domain of life were blurred, so controlling how we spend our time became more complicated. We could no longer rely on physical boundaries to establish the boundaries we needed.

No wonder burnout increased so dramatically.

There is a time management technique that helps to combat burnout by reestablishing those lost boundaries. But what causes burnout, and how can we avoid it?

There’s a simple equation for figuring out how to avoid burnout.

Identify the Cause

According to Psychology Today, burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.

Further delineating that definition, I recently tweeted that burnout = high expectations + low control.



Nir Eyal
Writer for

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