With only a few weeks until Christmas, many of us — leaders and employees alike — are approaching (if not already experiencing) burnout. A state of physical or emotional exhaustion, burnout tends to reduce motivation, affects one’s sense of personal accomplishment and results in an overall negative attitude towards work.
Fast-paced, highly competitive and deadline-driven roles are large contributors, but for some, burnout is self-inflicted and caused by a lack of commitment to personal time and self-care.
Working in HR and recruitment for organisations across the country for more than 15 years, and as a business owner myself, I consistently see performance diminish when people don’t take care of themselves in their downtime.
Working early mornings and late nights every single day is just not sustainable.
By the middle of the year, cracks begin to show and your team experience the flow-on effect. You are absent-minded, constantly frazzled, lack attention to detail and tend to deliver a lower quality of work overall — this is a prime example of burnout. Keeping overtime to an as-needed basis is a far better way to manage large workloads long-term and maintain your sanity.
Empowering team members to adopt a healthy balance during peak and trough periods in your business helps to reinforce that it’s not the number of hours worked that matter, but the quality of work delivered to deadline. It’s up to you to lead by example and lay down your expectations as their boss — their contracted working hours, using the team as a support network, and the importance of taking time out to recharge every day.
It’s no secret those who give their role 110% during work hours, but make a commitment to shut down at home time, are more likely to perform well in the long term, compared with those who work long hours, are constantly exhausted and only operate at 70% as a result.
To ensure you’re leading by example, and striking the right work-life balance to feel energised and refreshed in the workplace, here are some tips to live by.
1. Get some shut-eye
We know. There’s very little time in the day to call your own so you squeeze in as many episodes of your favourite reality TV show as possible.
But don’t! Sleep is important. Iit gives your body and brain a chance to rest, plus it keeps your endocrinological system (that’s your hormones) firing.
Those 3pm cronut cravings vanish when you start treating your body to decent sleep on the regular. Make it a rule to switch off from work at a set time each evening (no exceptions) and don’t feel guilty about it.
2. Do fun shit
There’s no shame in having good, wholesome fun. In fact, GPs should prescribe it!
Go to a movie or comedy club with your team after work. Drive across town to a new restaurant you’ve heard is spectacular or take time out and meet your partner for lunch once a week.
Encourage play and creativity in the everyday. If you have to, schedule fun on your calendar until it becomes a habit.
3. Ease up on the tech addiction
Technology is a bit of a double-edged sword. Sure, it connects you to the world, but it also connects you to your job, even in the wee hours of the night.
Your smartphone is an excellent servant but a tyrannical master! Put it firmly in its place! Outside of business hours, stop yourself from checking your emails every five minutes. And do not check your emails in the middle of the night. That is a sure-fire way to not get back to sleep. Email angst in the middle of the night is nobody’s idea of fun.
Switch off your email alerts as soon as you walk in the door of an evening to reinforce with clients and colleagues alike that you aren’t available around the clock. Trust me, if it’s actually urgent, you’ll get a call.
4. Remember your relationship?
Married or not, your romantic relationship should be nurtured. Keep bringing work — or work dramas — home repeatedly and you might as well be married to your job.
Allowing and promoting flexible working hours will encourage everyone (including yourself) to have a life outside work — leaving early for a girls weekend? No problem. Coming in an hour late one day a week to have breakfast with your partner? Not an issue.
The ‘work’ part of work-life balance will improve when you pay attention to the ‘life’ part. No-one wants a cranky, miserable workmate or boss. So stop torturing yourself because you think you should feel guilty for not thinking of your job 24/7.
Jackie Rahilly is the co-founder of recruitment agency Appoint and was a finalist in the Emerging and Energised category at the 2019 Telstra Queensland Business Awards.
This article was first published by SmartCompany.