Burnout can impact any professional if they don’t proactively work to address it. For most, vacations and time with family and friends are the go-to remedies, but with the current pandemic making such activities risky, many are feeling mental, physical and emotional exhaustion that far exceeds the usual workaday weariness.
So how do you stay focused and inspired in today’s climate? We asked the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust how they are avoiding burnout and supporting their team members during this period of prolonged stress.
1. Shut down the office early on Fridays.
As long as we are on track, we shut the office down early on Fridays. We are also trying to take employees out for special lunches, and we encourage employees to find something engaging to get involved in outside work, such as running, biking, golf, etc. – Douglas Carter, Ironside Human Resources
2. Draw hard lines between work and life at home.
Work and life are co-existing in our homes unlike ever before. It’s always a challenge to disconnect, but it is imperative to draw some real lines of separation. In pre-pandemic times, I would turn off my technology twice each year for vacation. In April, I started turning off my technology every other weekend. – Lisa Levy, Lcubed Consulting Inc.
3. Follow your natural biorhythms.
To combat burnout, I’ve been exercising and sleeping more, eating better, and taking more time for personal breaks during the workday. Conversely, I also follow my natural biorhythms and work later, earlier or on weekends when the mood strikes, since I get plenty of quality time with the family thanks to Covid-19. As a result, I’m more productive and inspired than before the pandemic. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.
4. Work from different places if possible.
I am someone who just cannot sit behind a desk all day — I have to be up and moving around. I work from varied places to feel better in these difficult times. We have offices in two different types of locations, and I make sure that I spend time in each of them accordingly. If I work from home, I make sure that I am not just sitting all day. A change in scenery is good for people. – Brandy McCombs, IBC
5. Prioritize self-care.
Self-care is the only way to avoid burnout right now. That means taking breaks from work, decompressing, finding ways to relax and rejuvenate on a personal level and giving yourself a break from time to time. We are all in incredibly stressful situations, whether we are working too many hours or trying to juggle everything at home. Without doing what you need to do to unwind, you will burn out. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting
6. Set personal goals outside of work.
I’ve made it a point to set both small and large goals to give me a reason to put work down and pick something else up. This has ranged from setting aside time each day to read to working on larger personal projects. Having these goals provides both something to look forward to after (or before) work and the mental break to recharge. – David Kennedy, Corona Insights
7. Take a personal time out.
It is important to schedule time for me, especially when juggling clients, work, kids’ schedules and virtual school. I schedule 15-minute breaks, take a walk outside and regroup. Make sure you schedule these time outs—if it’s not on my calendar it doesn’t happen. – Merrill Stewart, Marketing & Business Solutions LLC
8. Use your paid time off.
Employees are struggling to find a release away from their professional environments in 2020. One strategy we have followed is to encourage our employees to utilize the paid time off they’ve accrued throughout the year. We do this by setting an example at the top. When our front-line employees see leadership taking time off from work, we send a clear message that PTO should be used, not forfeited. – Mark Zinman, Zinman & Company
9. Focus on critical items and delegate the rest.
It is natural for ambitious go-getters to try to do too much. Helping those individuals focus on critical items and delegate or defer the rest can prevent burnout. Creating a culture where peers recognize potential burnout situations and step in is especially important. – Samir Mokashi, Code Unlimited LLC
10. Remove any tasks that don’t bring results.
Exhaustion is a choice. Business owners often get so inundated by the work that they fail to stop and evaluate whether it actually brings any results. It’s even worse today because we’re getting bombarded by negative information more often than ever. My strategy is reevaluating the work that I’m doing and removing anything that doesn’t bring any result. And it’s always “rinse and repeat.” – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
11. Establish a daily routine.
Having a daily routine is very useful. As part of that routine, taking time for meditation, exercise and reading good books helps greatly. Turning off the news, taking time to be outside and staying connected via phone calls and FaceTime with friends and family during this time also helps a lot. Unplugging from work and taking one day a week off from technology is useful as well. – Jonathan Keyser, Keyser
12. Check in with your team regularly.
Weekly one-on-one meetings held at the same time and place are crucial to helping team members avoid burnout. Weekly meetings result in team success because they help to build a better relationship between the manager and the team member. It gives an outlet to share ideas and concerns while allowing you to be aware of their well-being, and it provides a forum to discuss obstacles, set priorities and address burnout before it occurs. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
13. Try something new.
When you feel yourself getting stale, it’s time to mix things up. Take some time for personal reflection, and ask yourself, “What have I always wanted to do but haven’t?” Perhaps it’s playing the guitar, reading more or learning a new trade. As for myself, during the Covid-19 lockdown, I went to Cornell University online for a digital marketing certificate. – Keith Woods, KB Woods Public Relations
14. Focus on the positive.
To avoid burnout, it’s important to prioritize your health, happiness and well-being. Do what truly makes you happy, and don’t let negative messages overtake you or cause you to live in fear. Take time to be in nature, turn off the news and social media, and truly focus on the positive aspects of life. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising