Part 1 of this blog provided some tips to help both you and your team members avoid burnout. If you haven’t read that one already, I strongly recommend you go back, as we’ll build on the foundations shared there with this post.
There are quite a few tips out there to help you and your team avoid burnout, in addition to those I shared before. Here are some more you might consider.
Make physical health a priority
How many times have you become so engrossed in work that you look up and realize that you have been sitting in your chair for several hours? Or that you have forgotten to eat lunch? You won’t be able to do much of anything effectively if you are not taking care of yourself properly—not to mention that you are setting a poor precedent for your team members. Be sure to make time not only to eat, but to eat good, healthy meals. Try starting a group chat with your colleagues to encourage healthy eating by sharing recipes—you’ll set a great example for your team, and you may pick up some new ideas to try. Make sure you are getting up from your desk and moving around. Take a walk outside and get some fresh air. Having a Fitbit or an Apple Watch is helpful because they remind you to get up and move every hour. Start an exercise challenge with your team; it will not only be good for you physically, but it will also create a sense of community among your team members and promote everyone’s mental wellbeing. And don’t forget to get a good night’s sleep. If you start making your own physical health a priority, your team members will be more inclined to follow suit.
Mental health is important too
Your physical health is important but so, too, is your mental wellbeing. According to an article from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), prolonged exposure to stress in the workplace can negatively affect your mental health; therefore, it is crucial to take regular mental breaks to avoid burnout. And you should encourage your team members to do the same. So, what kind of mental breaks can you take? Here are a few examples:
- Start small. Just try stepping away from your workstation for a few minutes.
- Go outside and take a quick walk. You will return to work refreshed and more focused.
- Make a cup of coffee and enjoy it in a place other than your desk.
- Watch a few YouTube videos that provide yoga stretches and positions you can perform at your desk. Incorporate those techniques into your daily routine.
- Check out meditation apps, like Headspace or Calm. Meditation is helpful in that it provides you with the opportunity to check in with your body and a guided meditation can take as little as 5 minutes. If you are able, you might even consider setting up a company-wide subscription to one of these apps.
Whichever avenue you pursue, discussing the importance of mental health with your team members and promoting techniques to enhance mental wellbeing will go a long way toward avoiding burnout.
Listen—and be there for your team
The symptoms of burnout are exacerbated when you feel that you have no support system in place. Therefore, it is important that you keep the lines of communication open and go to bat for your team when you are able to do so. Meet with your team regularly to check in. Listen to what they are saying and pay attention to what they are not. If they are expressing concerns over a heavy workload, discuss what steps can be taken to alleviate that workload. Perhaps more time can be given toward a particular deadline. Or perhaps the work can be divvied up among several people. Maybe some meetings could be eliminated, or at least shortened. And don’t forget to establish a support system for yourself as well. Find a colleague with whom you can vent, preferably one outside your domain in order to get a fresh perspective every now and again. Or perhaps you can schedule a weekly meeting with your boss in order to keep him/her informed of your workload and any concerns. Heavy workloads lead to more stress, which increases the chances of careless mistakes being introduced. So, it is in the best interest of everyone involved to work collaboratively to relieve the pressures. Remind your team, and yourself: you are all in this together.
Keep your why close by
More often than not, we become so mired down in the day-to-day tasks of our work that we forget why we are working so hard in the first place. Sure, a job is a steady paycheck. However, most of us chose our current professions for reasons other than financial gain. If you are in the medical professions, maybe you wanted to help people. If you are an elementary school teacher, perhaps you wanted to help shape the future leaders of our country. For me, I am a strong advocate for education and believe in supporting our teachers in any way possible; I am proud that my day job (in publishing) and my “night job” (as PTO president) both support our teachers but in different ways. No matter your domain, remember your why. Remember the reasons you chose this profession in the first place. And if you remind your team members of this on a regular basis, it will lead to increased motivation and an overall sense of inspiration. They will understand that their work has true meaning and purpose, no matter how difficult some days may seem.
And finally, be positive!
When you are up to your eyeballs with tasks and deadlines or pressures from your clients, it is important to focus on the positive. We are so often told when things go wrong—you didn’t meet your deadline or you didn’t complete the task correctly—that we forget to focus on what goes well. Take the time to celebrate the victories, no matter how small. Say thank you. Tell someone that you appreciate their work. Celebrate your team members’ accomplishments, and your own. This will create a strong sense of community and support among your team, something they will surely appreciate.
Burnout feels a bit inevitable, especially today amidst a pandemic. It is hard not to think of all the stressors around us—our jobs, the economy, family obligations, and so on—and not feel physically and mentally exhausted by it all. However, just because you may be experiencing the symptoms of burnout, it does not mean that you have failed, and it is not a professional death sentence. Show yourself some compassion. Reflect back on each day and ask yourself “Did I do my best today?” And if your answer is yes, that is a victory to celebrate.
Are you, like so many others, feeling burnout in yourself or your team? Could you use some additional PM support? We want to hear from you! Email our team to share your thoughts on this topic, or visit our website to learn more about Lumina Datamatics.