As often happens, there was a theme among my clients over the past couple of weeks: Many of them are on the edge of burnout.
It’s rampant across all demographics, from 35-year-old mothers to 60-year-old grandpas. From managers to C-level executives. And many studies are showing that nearly 50% of the working population already is or will be looking for a new job post-pandemic.
Of course, that is the case! These studies also show that many of us are working an average of 26 more hours more per month than we were pre-pandemic.
The number one challenge I hear about burnout is the lack of control over working conditions. I hear about extremely long hours, calendars being double-booked all day, every day, multiple deadlines with nearly impossible deliverables… The list goes on and on.
In exchange for these unsustainable working conditions, employees are now dealing with serious health concerns (including depression, anxiety, etc. ) and facing repercussions in their personal lives, such as relationship challenges and more.
You Do Have Choices
Here’s the thing: my clients are smart! They are incredibly talented, capable, dedicated, and resourceful individuals. In the midst of giving everything they have to their employer, they often forget that they have choices!
I could go on and on about the opportunities we have as leaders to transform the workplace and why doing so is critical to the health of society. My company’s vision to shape great leaders who create great workplaces for EVERYONE. This is why I do what I do.
While I keep doing my work, I urge you to do something if your working conditions have become untenable, even if you’re the CEO! Here’s a list to get you started. Pick one, any one, and do it today!
Decide that your physical and mental wellbeing is the most important thing in your life. Commit to one behavior each day that demonstrates this decision.
Talk to your boss. Ask for what you need.
Talk to your boss’ boss. Ask for what you need.
If you are the boss, give your employees what they need before they walk out the door and create more stress for you.
Set healthy boundaries. We all know that great employees get rewarded with… more work! Stop saying yes to everything at the expense of yourself. It’s okay to say to your boss, “Sure, I can do that, but I’ll need to take something else off my plate first. What do you suggest?”
Stop being a people-pleaser. You will never make everyone happy, and you’ll wear yourself out in the process of trying.
Take time off. I know… your schedule is impossible. All the more reason to use your vacation time and recharge! You will make better and more efficient decisions upon your return.
Reexamine your priorities. How much money, experience, big titles, etc., do you really need?
Remember your personal values. Are you able to get many of those values met in your current job? Or are they being stomped on?
Be fully present for 15 whole minutes with the person that matters most to you. It will restore you and remind you how much they value you.
Take a break during the day. Take a walk, take a nap, and make yourself a real lunch. You will be much more effective afterward and it will end up saving you time.
Stop working 10-12 hour days. It is less productive (the average knowledge worker is only productive for 4-5 hours a day doing “brain work”). Instead, block out at least one hour on your calendar every day as a buffer and another hour to answer emails. That leaves you six hours for meetings and projects.
Decide each day what your top three priorities are. Let the rest go.
Remember why you work. Of course, for money… but what’s the money for? How much time do you really devote to those people or endeavors (family, sailing, your guitar collection, etc.)
Examine your bank account. Do you have F.U. money? That is, some kind of cushion in case you need to quit your job? I’m a huge fan of trying everything in your power to make your current situation work, but it’s not always possible. Put yourself in a position where it is possible to walk away if you need to.
All this is to say: you matter, a lot. Treat yourself like you believe it. By implementing even one or two of the suggestions I listed above, you’ll quickly start to notice that your work life becomes more tenable, you feel less exhausted in the evening, and you even begin to enjoy life more.
I’d love to hear about your progress. Feel free to connect and let me know what steps you take to prevent burnout.