A growing business can often mean heavier workloads, added responsibility and increased pressure. But it doesn’t need to be soul-crushing. Here are ten ways to steer yourself away from burning out.
It’s true – ‘We are what we eat!’ and research has found that food has a direct impact on cognitive performance. Just about everything we eat is converted into glucose, which provides the energy our brains need to stay alert. When we are running low on glucose, we struggle to stay focused and our attention drifts. Avoid the danger of having excessive amounts of caffeine to stay alert. Consuming too much at once will give you a quick spike in energy, but guarantees a productivity-harming crash.
We live in a society where we have so many forms of communication and yet we seem to be losing the art of speaking to one another. There is a lot to be said about talking face to face to your colleagues and peers. Make the effort to speak to someone new in your organisation as often as you can, after all it’s the life blood of your company -and many a problem or spark of innovation has been found over a chat and a cuppa.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘Don’t be a busy fool’. Give some thought to the structure your working day and work smarter not harder. Why not prepare a ‘Things To-Do’ list to help prioritise your workload, it’s motivational to tick things of a list and to feel a sense of achievement. Don’t procrastinate; tackle the top priority task first, even if it is the hardest on the list you will feel better for it. Be aware of your own personal body clock, focus upon your most productive times, and remember to schedule regular breaks, as these will keep you fresh and engaged in your work.
Death by meetings
We have all sat in a meeting and thought “Do I really need to be in this here?” Our advice is that, when you receive that diary invite, ask yourself, ‘Am I that important that they can’t cope with out me?’ and ‘is this meeting vital?’ If you don’t need to be there politely give the reasons why you don’t feel it’s a necessity for you to attend. Empower your team to be able to make the decisions needed without you being in attendance. If, however there is a legitimate business reason to attend, make the meeting short and concise and stick to the pre-published agenda. To energise your meetings, why not consider walking meetings or stand up meetings, these tend to be a lot shorter much more focused and productive.
Many a workplace can be stifled by an owner or manager that struggles with the art of delegation. A Manager that becomes a bottleneck in any organisation by micro-managing every job and task can be damaging for an organisation and even fatal in some circumstances.
Instead, learn to trust the staff you have employed to do their jobs! Your team will respect you more for allowing them the autonomy to make decisions. Consequently, morale and job satisfaction will rise and so will profits. Sometimes your team will make a poor decision, but our mantra has always been ‘A bad decision is better than no decision at all’- (and in our experience this usually only happens the once).
Work life balance
In any healthy relationship, there must be give and take. This is true of not only our personal relationships but also our professional ones too. Employers that allow their staff to work flexibly enjoy greater staff retention and staff loyalty. Many of us not only hold down professional careers but also juggle caring responsibilities for either young children, elderly parents or as one parent families. The ability to work from home or have flexible hours of work help to alleviate some of these pressures.
Find a quiet space
The world of work can be highly pressurised and stressful for most of us at some time in our careers, especially in periods of business growth. Many of us struggle with workplace distractions that continually break our concentration levels. Our advice is to find a quiet place if at all possible. Many workplaces have quiet zones, or rooms and areas which support the need for ‘heads down’ work. If you don’t have such a facility, we would suggest the use of headphones to cut out office chit chat and background noise to aid concentration. Another tip is to remove the constant pull of email traffic simply by switching it off when completing a dedicated task, in the same vein turn your phone to silent and switch off any other instant messaging tools or social media channels that occupy your attention.
Let’s face it, not all of us are motivated enough to go to the Gym regularly, run or cycle to work. In our experience, you’re either that way inclined or you’re not. Nevertheless, there are so many outstanding benefits to your health and wellbeing if you move just that little bit more every day! It’s all about making a change in your daily routine. Get out, go for a walk and gets some fresh air and make an effort to move about during the day. Take the stairs rather than the lift or get off one bus or tube stop early and walk the remaining distance. The results will leave you feeling more energised, which in turn helps to improve your mood and your ability to cope with any workplace challenges.
One in three of us suffers from poor sleep with stress, computers, and taking work home often being to blame. However, the effect of all these sleepless nights is far worse than just a lack of focus and bad moods. Regularly having less than six hours sleep a night puts you at risk of serious medical conditions including obesity, heart disease and diabetes and it can even shorten your life expectancy! It’s clear that a solid night’s sleep is essential for a long and healthy life, so, take the time to mitigate the impacts of sleep deprivation and ensure you go to bed in good time to give yourself the seven to nine hours’ sleep a night your body craves.
Great people make for a great workplace, so encourage your colleagues to build a social break into their day. Gather around one of the office coffee machines, do lunch together, go for a walk in the park and get to know each other. Not only will it make the working day more enjoyable but it will help build trust and re-energise the team. Make it culturally acceptable for staff and colleagues to relax for ten minutes and recharge.
Jackie Furey is the director of workplace consultancy, Where We Work.