Have you ever found yourself losing all interest in the job you used to love? Instead of feeling energized by your success, do you find yourself unfocused, disengaged and exhausted by the thought of work each day?
You might be experiencing burnout, defined by psychologist Herbert Freundenberger as “a state of fatigue brought about by devotion to a cause, a way of life or a relationship that failed to produce the expected reward.”
Burnout is particularly likely to strike after you’ve put out the supreme effort needed to lead your organization through an expansion. After a prolonged period of stress, you may feel that you have nothing more to give.
Some managers try to make light of feeling burned out, but it can be debilitating to your career and personal life, as well as depleting your immune system and leaving you vulnerable to illness and depression.
Recognizing burnout and taking steps to head it off can get you out from under its dark cloud. Use these 6 tips to do so:
1. Be proactive
It’s taken single-minded determination to deliver that project to the finish line. Now plan for some personal relaxation time after the grand opening to replenish your reserves. This planned time off is an essential part of a healthy project cycle.
2. Stay connected to the long-term vision
Have you said, “I never get any real work done anymore because I’m constantly in meetings.”? Recognize that your new, larger business means you’ll be working more with words than your hands. This is a huge shift requiring an attitude adjustment. Make those meetings count. Some meeting time will be transactional but meetings should also be transformational and strategic. Enlisting your team’s help to explore plans for the future can help you all connect to the vision.
3. Stay connected to the sales floor
Be on the floor every day—it’s good for the staff and customers and it’s good for you! Spend 30 minutes daily bagging groceries for cashiers and talking with customers or helping stockers face the aisles. This gives you a break from your computer and phone and helps you maintain connection to tangible operations even though you spend most of your day in an office.
4. Include time to think in your schedule
Scheduling back-to-back meetings almost guarantees you’ll run late and feel overwhelmed. It also robs you of essential time needed to process all the information being shared with you. Build some quiet time into each day and week to reflect on events that have just happened and focus on upcoming meeting goals. Some experts recommend that managers allocate 20 percent of their time to think and read in order to be thoughtful leaders and continual learners. People who make the time to learn and think creatively about their problems find work much more satisfying.
5. Develop other staff to help share the load
As leaders, we all have to put in 60–70 hour weeks from time to time, but if that becomes the new normal for you, you’re going to hit the wall. Maybe it’s time to look at your organizational structure and build more capacity in order to shift some work off your plate.
6. Rebalance your ratio between work and away time
Nurturing personal interests and spending time with family and friends are vital to helping you feel whole again. Above all, integrate some regular exercise into your week. Even if it’s a 30-minute walk during your lunch break three days a week—start somewhere. Exercise is vital to making us feel strong and in charge of our lives.
We all get stressed out from time to time, but being proactive about heading off burnout can save your career and personal wellbeing.