With so many pressures and responsibilities, it’s not surprising that so many of us are burning out quickly. When we are burned out we can lose our passion, motivation and interest in our work. What creeps in are the feelings of being cynical and resentful of everyone and everything and our productivity and creativity takes an immediate nose dive. The biggest downside to burnout is that our health can be impacted in a negative way and that can prevent us from hitting our deadlines and being our best selves.
You can’t control others but you certainly can control yourself and maximize your time. We erase those blurred lines that we sometimes let ourselves create and put in place our boundaries that we know we can meet.
Know your personal limits. You may have the best of intentions but even so, you can only do so much with 24 hours in the day. And no one should work 24/7. Even God realized that Sunday was a day off and so should you. Be reasonable with yourself and others. Be honest with what you can do and allocate the right amount of time you need to accomplish the time. Be realist about the time, if you need overtime – put that in.
Just say NO! Don’t be afraid to say no. It’s actually better if you say no, than yes. If you over commit you will let yourself down as much as you will let others down as well. This is a set up for failure. If you are just maxed out on time, be honest. You will earn more respect than if you just agree to everything. There is no shame in saying “no”. When you do decline a project or task, give a reasonable explanation. Never just use the phrase “too busy.” The fact is we are all busy. Folks appreciate an honest reason for your need to say no. Think about how you would feel if someone said no to you and put yourself in their shoes. If it’s possible, offer an alternative date.
Manage the expectations. We may feel that it’s great to impress others with our ability to meet a tight deadline, the truth is that we can burnout quickly if we are always giving ourselves these hard deadlines to meet every time. The adrenaline boost we may feel from hitting that deadline might feel great but over time we can wear ourselves out. It’s better for ourselves and others that we set the proper expectations from the start. Give your team or leaders a realist deadline. Be willing to pad the time a bit and let folks have some breathing room. Life happens and you never know if you might have something happen that can hold you back from meeting the deadline – life has a way keeping you on your toes. And it’s a good idea to keep everyone motivated by always communicating what is happening during the project as well. Everyone likes to feel they are in the know and not knowing creates more uncertainty and anxiety too. The best feeling is to know that you hit the deadline – on time and with great results.
Limit the Distractions. We all have those emails, calls that come in that take us off our game. We are leaders of people first. We are always willing to give people our attention when they need it. However, this can distract you from completing your task. You want to help, and should, but you need to put a line here too. Don’t be afraid to let folks know you are under a deadline and you’d be happy to get back to them when you set aside time to give them your undivided attention. You never want to be distracted when someone needs your advice. Be honest with them and tell them you want to give them your full attention and put time in your calendar for a call back.
Ask For Help. This is one I personally struggle with. Don’t be afraid to ask others to get involved. No one is an island. You can’t do it all yourself. You need to be able to delegate tasks off your plate. In fact, you’ll find out that others are often more than willing to step up. Just ask.
Unplug. Easier said than done, I know. But you really need to put down the phone, tablet and walk away. Yes our technology is truly a gift from Manna but honestly, you need to put it down and just get around REAL people or walk outside and look at a tree. You have to recharge yourself if you are going to be a leader to anyone – including yourself. Even if it’s for 10 minutes. Do it. You’ll be refreshed and renewed and ready to take on the world. If you can work out a “tech-free” day – even better.
Have a support system in place. Everyone needs that backstop – someone you can call and get that support you need to ensure you are on track and manage expectations. Talk with your mentor or coach. Seek guidance on gaining perspective on your situation, set appropriate boundaries and get a handle on a balance.
To be a leader can be a high pressure and rewarding at the same time. If you put your lines in the sand and hold yourself accountable for your expectations and boundaries, you can increase your ability to handle stress and manage your teams with great ease.