Wikipedia has an entry describing burnout, specifically in the work context. (It’s not really relevant how I ended up there. Right.) I learned that there is a “well studied measurement of burnout” called the Maslach Burnout Inventory. It makes use of a “three dimensional description of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy”. Maslach originally characterized burnout for professions such as psychology and social work, in which those experiencing burnout can not only be ineffective but start to view their patients or clients in a depersonalized or dehumanized way. But anyone in any profession can suffer ill effects from reaching unbearable levels of frustration and exhaustion. A later study showed that the MBI had “sufficient fit” as a descriptive/diagnostic tool for various occupations, except for those in advertising (hm?).
While the MBI itself is only available by purchase, you can take a quick self-test to get an idea of your burnout level (if it isn’t already obvious to you). The same site also provides tips on avoiding burnout. The one that resonated most with me was advice to “protect the parts of your job that give you meaning and satisfaction.” When too much of your time is swallowed up in the dreck that provides no satisfaction, but from which you cannot escape, you automatically ratchet up the burnout scale. It’s good to be reminded that taking time to focus on the parts you really enjoy benefits everyone you work with, not just you.