Kenny Chapman: Identify and overcome the hidden signs of business burnout
Technology will not solve our tendency to get burned out in our business and personal lives.
Have you ever felt a lack of energy and/or excitement to jump out of bed and hit the ground running? Do you love what you do for a living? If you answered yes to either one or both of those questions, you are not alone. We have this overarching feeling that just because we love what we do and the people we work with daily that we “should” feel energetic, excited and passionate about business 24/7.
There are ebbs and flows in life, and ups and downs with our emotions and energy for daily operations, which is perfectly normal. A large part of our business lives in the problem-solving world. As a result, we are surrounded by problems most of the time, and often we are the ones tasked with coming up with solutions to these problems regardless of apparent size.
Therefore, it is critical to be aware of getting bogged down and how the hidden little components of burnout can show up for you (and your team members). I used to think I could not possibly get burned out or even having feelings or symptoms of burnout because I absolutely love what I do. I am a conscious leader and I have personally chosen my exact career and path, so why would I ever feel burned out? How could it be possible?
The Path to Burnout
Burnout can show up in many ways and it is not directly tied to how much you like what you do. Certainly, if you hate your daily activities there is some additional work for you to do for better clarity, direction and fulfillment. However, if you enjoy your overall life and business, underlying burnout could still be showing up more often than you’d like.
In today’s world of constantly being connected and having an expectation of immediate response and results, we must make a more conscious effort to protect ourselves from burnout sneaking in without even realizing it. Our mind is an amazing computer, but it still needs time to turn off, download new software and reboot — no different than the latest and greatest computer in your office.
Burnout has a way of being almost hidden from our realization because we are always “on” in today’s world. There was a period in the early 70s when my father was a union HVAC contractor in San Diego. As a project foreman, he would drive from job to job and check on his crews, meet with superintendents and make sure all projects were staying on track. However, after he did a job walk or visited one of his crew, he would have nothing but time and mental space be-tween jobs. He’d have time to listen to the radio in his truck, reflect on his management skills, think about his family, etc.
Fast forward to current reality. You stop by a jobsite and it’s a challenge to even focus on the task at hand of meeting with your tech at the client’s home because your phone is blowing up with calls from the office, weather updates, software notifications and text messages from your family.
Regardless of your position, it has become increasingly difficult to find time and mental clarity to do one thing at a time. This is incredibly challenging for our mindset and can lead to burnout without us even realizing it’s taking place.
How and when do you feel like you win throughout the day? Do you feel like your to-do list is longer at the end of the day/week than when you started? Are you attending your daughter’s basketball game, but realize you must look at the scoreboard on the way out to see which team won because you haven’t been truly present for most of the game? Are you no longer taking time for your own hobbies and justifying it because you don’t have the time?
5 Steps Away From That Path
All of these contribute to burnout, which makes you less effective daily than taking some much needed recharge time and fully engaging in all the activities in your business and life. The good news is, with commitment and reconditioning your thought process, there are solutions and steps to help get you back on track and return to the enjoyment of your career, team members and family time.
- Awareness. Take some personal inventory time and gain clarity about what’s truly going on and how you feel about your daily tasks and activities. What is really feeding your passion? What other things seem to be sucking the life out of you, but you keep doing them because it’s “just part of the job?”
Take the time to make a list of these activities (both positive and negative) so you have new awareness about what you like and don’t like doing.
- Address your current time structure. One of the areas we focus on when training and coaching managers is what we call the time/task inventory. Beyond the awareness of step 1, this is where the rubber meets the road with how you’re investing your valuable time throughout the day, week, month and year.
Most of our clients have a real wakeup call when realizing so many hours are being spent on petty tasks that are not truly driving the business forward.
- Restructure daily task list. Once you are clear about what you enjoy (and despise), as well as how your time is being invested, it’s time to change your schedule. Where and how can you batch tasks like email, phone calls and maximize commute time? Are you making self-care a priority as well?
Your daily task list needs to include things that fuel you personally. Workouts, meditation and journaling are massive contributors to making the rest of your day as productive and balanced as possible.
- Leverage technology. Most people have become victims to technology rather than using it as a tool for productivity. When do you absolutely want/need to use technology, and when can it be a burden, impeding efficiency? I mentioned email batching, but what else can be addressed in this category? Do you need to turn off your phone during lunch? Can you take technology-free time throughout the day?
I’m not talking hours on end here, just start by leaving your phone in the truck when you go in the store. Go on air-plane mode for 30 minutes or an hour when talking to your kids in the evening about their day at school.
- Take a real break. When was the last time you took true free time for yourself? I mean 100% pamper yourself, anything and everything you want to do for a specific period of time. Be honest here. My mentor Dan Sullivan taught me the “free day” concept which we now share and encourage our clients to embrace. While easier said than done, this concept will completely change your life. Your renewed perspective and effectiveness will soar off the charts if you will commit to true free days periodically.
What is a true free day? It’s 24 hours with no talk about business, no business reading, no Facebook, no news, etc.; just time for you and whatever you love to do, with whomever you love to do it with. You might be surprised how challenging this can be and all the justifications you’ll come up with about why you cannot take a true free day. I assure you: All your excuses are making you more prone to experiencing burnout (if you aren’t already).
It’s hard to believe we are already a few months into 2020; another decade to create great results in the world. We thought we’d be flying around in our jet cars and having our robot maids cook and clean for us by now. Though we may not be too far from those realities, what we didn’t realize was that technology was not going to solve our tendency to get burned out in our business and personal lives.
Things are easier now than ever before. You can order something with your voice through Alexa and have it manifest magically at your home in less than two hours. You can have dinner brought to you. You can have a “garage sale” without even having a garage. You can get answers to any question about any topic at any time on any given day.
This is fantastic! It’s an amazing time to be alive and to be a business leader. It’s also more crucial than ever that you pay attention to the factors of hidden burnout and as soon as you recognize any of the symptoms, you take massive action to get back to your own personal passion and fulfillment.