Tired and unmotivated all the time? Learn the signs of burnout and how event planners can avoid it.
Burnout is a common occurrence in many creative fields, including event planning. As planners, we run the gauntlet of stressful situations: financial decisions and their impact, long hours, difficult people, lots and lots of decisions, extreme levels of multitasking, and never-ending details. There is no doubt that event planning is challenging, but it’s conquering those challenges that makes us love it!
It’s important to know that stress and burnout are different. Feeling stressed sometimes is natural, especially in our chosen profession. However, it’s the prolonged and excessive stress that leads to burnout. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to recognize burnout, ways to prevent it, and how to pull ourselves out of it.
Know the Warning Signs
One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to know the warning signs so you can do something about it. Precursors to burnout can vary by individuals. You may be feeling exhausted and not able to find the energy to do much of anything. You may have also noticed that your normally positive attitude has taken the turn to primarily negative. Has your work suffered? Are you making more mistakes than usual and noticing that the quality of your work product may be slipping? These can all be signs that you are quickly headed towards burnout and you need to start taking steps to head it off.
Love What You Do
To begin with, you have to love what you do. If not, your job simply becomes a chore and it will eat away at you until you despise it. I have heard too many stories of people trudging away for years at a job they don’t like. If you don’t like what you are doing, take steps to begin a new path. Find something that you love and enjoy.
Being an event professional is not for everyone. And if it’s not your cup of tea, then you will be more susceptible to burnout. Getting overwhelmed by details and stressed by multi-tasking are just 2 of the 7 Ways to Tell You’re Not Event Professional Material we mentioned in a previous post.
Delegate and Share the Work
I confess that I do have a hard time delegating, so this is an area I truly need to work on myself. Sometimes, it feels like it takes more work and time just to be able to delegate tasks to someone else. I already know what I need to do, how it needs be done, and am confident I can do an awesome job at it. Why give it to someone else when I can do it better and quicker? That may sound pretty vain, but I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling.
In a previous post, we discussed decision fatigue. Give yourself a break from decisions and being in charge sometimes. Whether it be delegating a project to a competent colleague, or letting someone else decide on dinner, find some creative ways to give yourself (and your colleagues) a physical and mental break.
The truth is sometimes we can’t do it all. And even if we could, by learning to delegate to others we can do more, better, faster and be less stressed. If communicated adequately, it can also allow your team members to become more involved and learn more. If you are new to delegating, start small. Your trust in delegating will grow as you see yourself feeling more relaxed and getting more done.
Know When to Stop Working
Even though you may love what you do, we all need a break sometimes. In our ever connected world of WiFi, smart phones, and 24/7 access to email, taking the time to stop working is increasingly difficult. Have you ever been home with your family and “just wanted to check email” only to find an hour later you’ve slipped down the rabbit hole and are now heavily involved in email responses? Woah, what happened?
It’s important to set boundaries and limits on your time with bosses and clients. Sometimes it’s necessary in our event planning world to go outside those limits, but be very selective when you do. If a boss or client continually violates those boundaries and you let them, they will begin to expect you to be available during those times. If you always say yes to working later or responding to email on off hours, it becomes more difficult to say no or to stop. Then you’ve created a monster!
Learn to Say No
Learning to say no goes right along with turning off work. As event professionals, it’s difficult for us to learn to say no. Part of our job has us saying “yes” most of the time to meet the needs of our bosses, clients, and attendees. It’s also difficult because even if you want to be helpful, you sometimes have to say “no” to things you really want to do.
My trick for learning to saying no is to think of what you currently have on your plate. Will your current commitments suffer if you say ‘yes’ to a new request. If you say ‘yes,’ will you be able to complete the task to the quality you expect? If not, say no. By saying yes, you are setting yourself and the individual making the request up for disappointment and possible resentment.
There is power in saying no. Saying ‘no’ allows you to focus and have more time for the things you said ‘yes’ to.
Have Other Interests
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in work that we forget about our other interests. These are the things that help make us who we are, though. It is important to keep a sense of who you are and what makes you, you. For me, it’s crocheting, volunteering for animal rescue, and geocaching. When is the last time you sat down to think about what your interests are outside of work? What do you like to do? What is something you used to like, but have not done in years because of work? Is there something that you are interested in trying? These are the things that make you unique. They are important. You are important.
Besides helping create who you are, your other interests allow (or force) you to take a break from work. These activities or hobbies can expand your mind and your skills, all while giving your brain a break - and your work will be better for it!
Exercise & Eat Well
Even though it may seem like exercising is just one more thing to put on your checklist, it is really one of the most important ones! While your work is important, without a healthy you, you will not be able to do that work. Adding this to your to-do list is a great way to make sure you actually remember to do it. While this does add something else to your to-do list, the results are definitely worth it! Taking time to take care of yourself is key to avoiding burnout
Call it a night. Sleep is a crucial aspect of being healthy and productive. Good sleeping habits allow your body to rest and recover, preparing you to start the next day full of energy. For the average adult, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 6-10 hours of sleep each night. How much you need exactly depends on your own body, but regardless, you should be getting good, uninterrupted sleep each night.
Evidence shows that naps can also help to prevent burnout. (I’m a big fan of napping!) Burnout can sometimes start to occur later in the day. By taking a ‘power nap’ you can refresh and reset yourself to tackle the rest of the day. So don’t feel guilty if you sometimes you take a brief rest!
While you are out conquering your exciting #eventprof challenges, be aware that burnout may still sneak up on you. Know the signs. By loving your work you give yourself the right start to preventing burnout. But don’t forget that you do need a break and that you need other interests outside of work.
Learning to say no and asking for help by delegating are hard tasks for event planners, as we always aim to please. As strange as it may seem, by recognizing that we can’t do it all and we need help, it sets us up to do better quality work, and more of it.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself by eating healthy and exercising, so that you can prevent the exhaustion, negativity and decreased work quality that comes with burnout. Keep a positive outlook and you can build a strong barrier against burnout, and be an even better #eventprof.