It’s OK to burn out a little

It’s OK to burn out a little!

What a year eh? Honestly, if you had told me what this year would have looked like when I was celebrating New Years back home in Scotland, I flat out would not have believed it – but then who would?

Though I am not here to go over Covid and how difficult its been as we know that. I wanted to spend some time talking about the hard-work that’s gone into this to keep businesses going and to ‘turn the corner’ as sometimes when you work flat out, it’s perfectly natural to find the tank a little empty.

Recruitment and sales roles naturally have highs and lows and the number one cause of people leaving roles and / or starting to underperform, is being burnt out and not being able to recognize and correct this. Well in my opinion anyway, that isn’t backed by stats? More years of experience of seeing it happen.

I’ve been working in sales driven roles from when I was 18, (which annoyingly is 16 years ago – nothing makes the years go quicker than working to quarterly targets right?) and I’ve noticed a few key signs in myself and others when things are getting more mentally stressful. I really feel that part of the reason I’ve consistently been able to be successful is that early in my career I was able to recognize when I was burning out, and more importantly, how to rectify it quickly (not immediately, but quickly – an important distinction).

The main things I see and used to do myself:

  • Staring at LinkedIn and not really doing anything. It feels like work as it’s LinkedIn but really it may as well be Facebook if you’re not utilizing it properly (even the colors are pretty similar)
  • Clock watching – reverting to 9 to 5pm again and doing things like going to make coffee at 4:30pm – to use a sport analogy, the equivalent of taking the ball to the corner flag in the last few minutes of a football match
  • Putting off tasks – even basic ones for no good reason
  • Hitting the snooze button 10 times in the morning – nothing gets a day off to a worse start than putting off your first task!
  • Cutting corners – when I used to do this it was always in a way to try and force things to happen, but it just makes things worse
  • The highs weren’t having the same impact

There are tons more of course but these are just a few examples and obviously I’d love to hear more if anyone has any to add. The key thing is identifying your signs and knowing the best way to counter act them. It’s absolutely fine to be frazzled, it happens to everyone, but you can’t let it spiral.

OK, so what do we do? Here is what works for me. I appreciate it might not work for everyone of course but see if it helps.

  • Take a little break – have a couple of days off and do not check your emails (I know shock horror). I used to check emails day and night until a few years ago. The amazing thing is things don’t collapse if you’re offline for a while
  • Talk to someone – it is probably written all over your face anyway so get it out, sometimes saying it out loud is half the battle
  • Commit to something else outside of work – study, exercise, reading, anything that can occupy the mind elsewhere. I took up tennis and studied my first part of STEP this year to stave it off this year.
  • Don’t beat yourself up – you’re always your harshest critic to give yourself some slack
  • Ban the snooze button! Get up, get ready, have a coffee and you’ll have a better day every time
  • Consider a career coach – Through SteppingStones, I am lucky to work with the brilliant Heather Halsey who has always really pushed me to improve and it is incredible what a coach can offer. You would use it in any sport or even the gym, why not for work?

2021 is a year of promise but it’s going to be a different world in every industry, and sales and recruitment are no different. The new normal is going to be hard-work, relationship building and a deeper understanding of your clients. This will be incredibly rewarding though will inevitably lead to some new challenges and mental hurdles to jump. Know that everyone goes through this and with the right guidance, a bad day can easily end up a good week!

Good luck everyone ?