How to Avoid Burnout
Change can be a dirty word in many work environments today. Lets face it “Transformation” is the buzzword de jour! Almost everyone is feeling the affect of increased workload and the speed of change in their job.
It may be brought on from process improvement, new-fangled technologies to learn, added responsibility, regulatory scrutiny, or the most-feared-change of all…downsizing!
Constantly having to adapt, even for the best leaders, takes quite a toll. As a leader not only do you have to continually reframe and communicate the gist of the changes to your team, but you are also expected to be ‘on’ and supportive of whatever is thrown your way. This can be downright exhausting!
So how IS change affecting you? Are you coping? Or are you nearing burnout?
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How To Know When Change Is Affecting YOU
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Here’s the thing, change is hard when it is imposed on you, yet, making your own change can be immensely exhilarating when it is something you want to do.
When you find yourself in a constant state of change, inflicted beyond your control, you will eventually shut down if you don’t find good coping strategies. Your health may be adversely affected, your family life may be impacted and for sure, your work performance will suffer when you burnout.
Fear not! You CAN find balance again. First step is recognizing the issue. Just like slowing a car down on a slippery road you can 'pump the brake' to prevent burnout.
The trick is finding ways to regain control over changes that affect YOU. Here are 5 action steps you can begin right now…today!
1. Book Yourself a Break – NOW!
I strongly believe in taking time back from work when you begin to feel frustrated and stressed. If you don’t make time for yourself, no one else will give it to you!
If you are a nose-to-the-grindstone type then taking time back may seem tough for you… initially. But taking back time for yourself is a game-changer to regaining balance.
Action Step: Start with small steps – book an hour into your calendar a few times through the week. RIGHT NOW – look at your calendar and book it…..yep, right now, it will only take a moment.
If you are already at the ‘burnout point’ then take a much bigger step - book a two-week break. Yes TWO! Detach completely – no phones/computer or email. You need the extra time to properly let go and become refreshed.
Why do this? Because pushing yourself harder and harder will not make you accomplish anything faster or better. In fact, it is when you pause, step back, reflect, giving yourself a break that you will become most effective, more able to make sense of the various changes and give yourself greater perspective to move forward.
2. Bust Your Paradigm
Paradigms are patterns you have adopted or think to be true. A paradigm can also be the way you approach your day. Often a paradigm is something we adopted based on what we think others expect of us.
Take crisis management at work for instance. If you are the Olivia Pope in your business that fixes every crisis, then you become the one everyone brings the crisis to.
Action Step: Hand off crisis tasks. In leadership roles it is true, the buck stops with you. But handing off crisis tasks to the right people on your team versus being the one who ‘does’ it provides big growth opportunity to others.
Delegation of important tasks takes leadership courage. It takes great trust. It means giving your team the confidence in handling very important work, with you as their safety net. You remain involved yet you set high expectations, selecting the right people for the right tasks. Watch how they rise to the challenge!
This is not an easy shift when you are known for being ‘the fixer’, yet once you master this hand-off, you will achieve far greater results with far less stress in the future.
Why do this? It’s a win-win! Giving others the accountability to fix big fat meaty issues stimulate their capabilities to grow as well as improve overall team engagement because they see you have faith in them.
As an individual takes on work that stretches their thinking, it pushes them out of their comfort zone; in turn they build new skills and develop. This then frees you up to act as a guide/mentor versus the doer. The results are far more gratifying for both you and the team.
3. Share - Give Work Away
Similarly most leaders, who are hit by wave after wave of change, take on more work than they give away. Often under the assumption it is easier to do it himself or herself rather than ask someone else to.
Action Step: At the end of each day write down two things that you did that someone else could have done for you. They might be administrative tasks, attending a meeting or simply to-do items that someone else could have accomplished just as easily. The next day, delegate those items and begin to make this a daily practice.
Why do this? You may think that you’re a master delegator and that you’re maximizing your productivity every day, but this simple habit will help you measure your delegating skills each and every day.
4. First Things First
In Stephen Covey’s well-known book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he points out how important it is to ‘Put First Things First’ as Habit #3.
During changing times you can get bogged down with task work that doesn’t actually move you forward. When you practice choosing what you spend your time on, you will get the highest return on your investment.
Action Step: Refer to Eisenhower's Urgent/Important Principle that Covey talks about. Begin to organize tasks using these key principles focusing on the most important priorities.
Why do this? Get the biggest payoff for your time at work! Spend most of your time in the upper green zones. Avoid or eliminate time-wasting activities and ensure you delegate distracting work that doesn’t provide payback. By practicing these tried and true methods you maximize your time and you become a better leader.
5. Let Go of Perfection
According to Dr. Brené Brown, world renowned researcher and author:
“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment and blame.”
Every leader I know who suffers because of today’s pace of change, has some degree of perfectionistic qualities. They have very high standards; they surround themselves with over achievers (just like themselves), which is great, however they can be very hard on themselves and others too. They tend to put in long gruelling hours to complete everything to their satisfaction and they struggle with handing off and delegating.
Action Steps: Become aware of your tendency for perfectionism. Be kind to yourself, review your goals and validate when you are being too hard on yourself – is what you want attainable or realistic? If not, cut yourself some slack!! Involve your team, be more choosey on what you personally take on.
Self-worth is at the core of perfectionism, take stock of all the great work you do well to help change your emphasis and perspective on being perfect.
Use a Lifeline When You Need One
When work pace and change is getting to you it is OK to seek assistance from a professional. Many people need extra help to ‘pump their brake’ until they develop new habits.
Some of the benefits working with a professional include:
Drop me a line when you’re getting frustrated or fear burnout. I will help you find a path to take back control, refocus your time and energy into work that makes you want to get up and go in the morning again!
Elaine Adamson is a leadership consultant with Dots Leadership Solutions Inc. A natural dot connector. Passionate about coaching team effectiveness and leadership development she shares over 25+ years of real-life tips and tricks that really work!
Elaine believes you can discover and leverage strengths to forge a strong team dynamic despite business challenges or organizational change.
She posts some great articles on Linked In too!
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