Business Self-Care: Avoiding Project Burnout

Burnout is never a fun feeling. You go to resume work on one of your projects, and no matter how pressing its deadline is or how passionate you felt about the work when you started, you just can’t bring yourself to complete the job. Don’t fall prey to any feelings of inadequacy, though.

Project burnout occurs when you look at a project too closely for too long, and it can arise in anyone.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to combat project burnout and bring back the project-oriented passion that you feel you’ve lost.

Acknowledging and Understanding Burnout

First, if you’re feeling less than energetic while working on a project, acknowledge how you’re feeling.

You won’t be any use to anyone if you’re puttering around and trying to convince yourself to work when your body and brain are telling you to rest. Take into account your feelings and productivity.

How much do you feel like you’ve accomplished in the past few hours? Are you unusually tired or irritated? Don’t repress these feelings – address them and acknowledge that you need to take steps to take care of yourself as a professional.

Causes of Burnout

What brings about a bad case of burnout?

Like we said, burnout usually sneaks up on a person when she’s been working with a project for too long. If a project has proven especially overwhelming, or if numerous difficulties with clients or expectations have arisen, for example, you may find yourself at risk for burnout. Once the negative elements of a project begin to outweigh the positive elements, take a step back and assess your situation. It’s easier to prevent burnout, sometimes, than it is to come back from it.

Symptoms of Burnout

You may be experiencing burnout if you notice any of the following:

  • You avoid emails, telephone calls, or conversations about your current project.
  • When you think about making progress on your project, your stomach fills with dread, you develop a sudden headache, or you notice yourself getting uncomfortably tense.
  • You will use any other workaround the office as an excuse to get out of working on your project.
  • When you do try to work on your project, you make little progress over an extended period of time and may find yourself backtracking where you should be moving forward.
  • Generally, you are less happy than normal for a period of several days, and going to work fills you with feelings of nervousness, disappointment, or guilt.

Solutions to Burnout

Like we mentioned earlier, though, there are ways to combat burnout – you won’t be stuck in your fugue state forever.

If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms of burnout or other, similar behaviors, make sure that you reach out to a supervisor or friend in order to brainstorm your own individual solutions as well as consider the ones we mention here.

Teammate Rotation

If, in your discussion, you realize that it’s your team members who are making your work on a project less than enjoyable.

In this case, you may be able to have your supervisor swap out who you’re working with. This won’t always be the case and is less doable if your compatibility with a client is lacking. However, swapping out the team members working on a particular project can not only rejuvenate the mood of a group, but it can bring fresh ideas to the table and give a project the energy it needs to resume forward motion.

Meet with the Client

When a project is stalling out, you’ll want to meet with the client you’re working with in order to let them know how you’re progressing – even if you’re not progressing at all.

Meeting with a client will allow you to alter deadlines as necessary. You’ll also have the opportunity to re-establish a project’s goals, set new expectations for yourself, the client, and your teammates, and to sooth any tempers that have risen in light of delays.

Communication is essential to workplace productivity, and it, as much as anything else, can help you find the energy to resume work on a project.

Monitor Your Time Management

If you find yourself wondering whether you’re experiencing burnout or just misusing your time, time tracking apps can help you develop a better understanding of what your day-to-day schedule looks like.

For example, Timeneye enables you to record the amount of time you spend working on individual elements of a project. If you notice that you are spending a reasonable amount of time brainstorming ways to get your project off the ground, then you may want to schedule yourself some time away from that particular project, if only to give yourself a break and let your creative juices recharge.

Get Out of the Office

Finally, one of the best solutions for project burnout is changing your surroundings.

Get out of your office! Go for a walk down the street to stretch your legs, or talk with your supervisor and see if you can’t work from home. Take your meetings with your teammates and client to coffee shops, a nearby park, or places where you feel comfortable. A change of view can perk up your brain and allow you to see your project from a different perspective.

It may seem simple, but moving around and setting into a new environment may be all your project needs in order to find its spark again.

Photos via Stocksnap.io

About Cheyenne

Cheyenne DeBorde is a wordsmith who balances convincing others it’s a “real job” and accepting it might not be (it’s better). Writer, editor, and founder of November Ink, Cheyenne’s work has placed her fingerprints all over the Internet on more topics than even she can remember. She spends her days over-thinking the universe and inflicting her findings on dinner parties.