If you’re feeling stressed, you’re not sleeping well, you’ve lost focus, have a short fuse or your emotions are all over the place, chances are you’re experiencing “burnout”.
Burnout occurs when you don’t have any down-time between periods of stress and high activity. Often people think the harder they work, the more productive they are, so they move from one intense period of work into the next without a break. But the reality is that those lower activity, lower-stress periods between intense periods have an immeasurable benefit.
When you are relaxed, you are at your most creative and your mind is clear – which means you’re able to solve problems more effectively. When you let your batteries recharge, you’ll feel energised, focused on your goals and connected with your work and colleagues.
To help you avoid burnout, we’ve researched some of the top ways successful employers ensure they stay on top of stress.
1. SCHEDULE IT
If you’re operating without a plan or schedule each week, then you’re on your way to burning out. Or, if you’re operating with a plan that no-one else can see (i.e., it’s written in your head), and you’re constantly fielding questions from staff, you’re going to lose precious work time for instructions and interruptions.
You need to get clear with yourself about your short term and long term plans for the season, and communicate the plan and schedule with the team, so that all of you have a clear vision and idea of how each day will roughly play out.
Start by jotting down your overall goals for the season, then write up a weekly schedule so that you are clear about how your team will achieve them. This may include daily tasks, maintenance and future improvements. Then, put it in a place where everyone can see the state of play.
If you then make time for a weekly ten-minute catch up with the team, they will have a chance to explain any issues, hiccups, successes and concerns, which you can then remedy by adding them into your schedule.
The added bonus is that if your team feels you are addressing their concerns, they’ll feel more engaged with their work – and you’ll know about small issues before they become big ones!
2. ADDRESS THE TOP TWO ISSUES
Sometimes the number of issues at work is simply overwhelming – especially during the busy season. If that’s the case for you, then you need to abandon the idea that you will be able to address all of them at the current time. If you simply prioritise your top two issues – whether that’s equipment failure, animal health issues, staffing issues, grass management or having enough time to recuperate each week – you will be on your way to relieving the bulk of your stress.
If you then make a conscious decision to “park” the other issues until things are less busy, you will allow yourself the headspace to get through the busy period without feeling overwhelmed by stress.
We’ve all heard about self-care and its importance in maintaining a good mental equilibrium. However, self-care means something different for everyone. Before you go adding in a whole lot of leisure activities to your schedule, consider the basic cornerstones of self-care: exercise, food and sleep.
If you are on top of these three things, you will feel more energised each day to negotiate the tasks and issues you face. Make some simple changes: go for a walk or jog to start the day; if you stay up late on the internet, try turning in half an hour earlier; and swap out junk food for nutritious food that will give you more energy.
4. BEST USE OF YOUR TIME
Not all tasks are created equal, in terms of return on investment. If you’ve heard the saying “work on the business, not in the business” you know what I’m trying to get at. While, this is not entirely possible for many small businesses, the basic premise still applies.
You need to work out which tasks have the most financial pay back and spend a bigger proportion of your time on these, and use staff to do the tasks that don’t create as much revenue. So, for example, if marketing increases your revenue each year by 5%, while a daily maintenance task doesn’t create a net gain, then delegate that task to a staff member.
5. HIRE HELP
In order to grow a business, there is an investment required – which can often come in the form of people. If you are spending too much time dealing with minor issues, or working at the coal face, you won’t see the bigger picture, and your business is unlikely to grow or improve.
Addressing your staffing needs is one of the simplest ways of freeing up space and time to do some “big picture” thinking. It may seem like a big step to take, but we’ve seen so many businesses expand and succeed, simply through taking on reliable migrant workers.