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Published on January 21, 2021

Here’s What To Do When You Are Getting Exhausted At Work

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Here’s What To Do When You Are Getting Exhausted At Work

Workplace fatigue and exhaustion have been significant issues for decades, way before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. According to Gallup, 85% of employees report being disengaged or actively disengaged at work, which results in nearly $7 trillion of lost productivity on an annual basis.[1] $7 trillion is lost every year because employees are distracted, disengaged, fatigued, exhausted at work, and essentially prioritizing other tasks to get done while on the company’s clock.

Many Employees Are Becoming Exhausted at Work

How did we get here? A study done by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace uncovered some alarming news. According to their study, 95% of HR leaders stated that employee burnout was sabotaging workforce retention.[2] From the sounds of it, this is a problem for the majority, not just the minority.

Business leaders worldwide are coming to grips with this because these problems aren’t going away anytime soon. These issues have been further projected into the spotlight because of the unprecedented events 2020 placed on our current workforce. Left to their own devices, people are creatures of habit.

At some point in your life, I’m sure you struggled with brushing your teeth and taking a shower in the morning. Hopefully, your parents helped you work through those stages to allow you the time to lay down foundational habits of personal hygiene, which have become automatic at this point in your life. Because of this, I suspect you have no issues brushing your teeth and showering in the morning before getting ready for a workday.

But when was the last time someone gave you instructions and exercises to facilitate your workplace habits of productivity and execution of tasks? Have you ever had anyone give you guidance on this? Most haven’t.

While this appears to be a significant issue in our current workforce, there are viable solutions out there to treat this work-related pandemic as long as you are willing to change your habits and implement simple changes into your daily work life. Even if you decide to implement one of these changes, you could see a significant shift in your productivity and output, potentially setting you up for that next promotion, increased pay, and a higher quality of life.

Unfulfilling Work Can Suck the Life Out of You

The first question you may need to ask yourself is, “Am I doing what I truly love?”

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Unfortunately, that question can only be answered by you, but it’s one of the most simplistic and foundational questions you need to figure out before taking the next step and investing in your future.

A majority of people are unhappy with their jobs, as Gallup found that nearly 70% of correspondents stated that they were unfulfilled and dissatisfied with their current place of work.[3] If you find yourself part of this trend, maybe it’s time for you to look for a new job?

HR Drive conducted a survey and found that half of their respondents stated that they would sacrifice up to 29% of their current pay to work at a job they enjoyed, which clarifies that people are willing to surrender financial gains for personal growth and gratification.[4] If we spend an average of 90,000 hours at work throughout our lifetimes, we need to make sure that we enjoy it and find fulfillment in what we do.[5]

Fatigue Can Signal Poor Health and Nutritional Deficiencies

If switching your career isn’t an option, there are many alternatives to choose from to optimize your energy levels even when you’re exhausted at work. While our workforce and office landscape has completely changed with the stay-at-home orders from COVID-19, we can still implement simple steps to enhance our productivity.

Exhaustion at work isn’t always because of the work itself. It could also be due to poor health and nutritional deficiencies, manifesting as altered cognitive function, poor sleep, and an inability to complete tasks on time.[6] Work merely brings out these inefficiencies and causes further strain on our brains and bodies, which may not have been able to keep up with these demands in the first place.

Nutrition and diet will forever be foundational to our health. Even Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, stated back in 440 BC, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Food is the keystone to our overall health and wellbeing—for a good reason. Your food choices influence your immune function via the bacteria living inside your gut, which contains roughly 70% of your body’s immune system.[7]

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Yes, you read that correctly. Your food choices directly affect your immune function!

More importantly, your food choices also affect serotonin production, the feel-good neurotransmitter that becomes skewed in conditions such as depression, anxiety, and different psychiatric disorders. Over 90% of your body’s serotonin production is housed within the gut and influenced by food choices affecting your bacterial profile.

Snacking on healthy foods throughout the day is always an option, but too much food can sway your blood sugar levels and cause daytime sleepiness.

For an even more efficient way to optimize your brain and body, intermittent fasting may be a better approach because it can help you dampen body inflammation, optimize cognitive processing, and even lose weight. Changing your food choices can directly correlate to changes in your mood and energy levels.

Take a Walk to Recharge Your Batteries

At some point, you may become exhausted at work and may need to step away from it to clear your mind. Taking a break from your work can be one of the most efficient means of improving your productivity because it allows the brain to switch gears and change your state of thought. One of the most efficient ways to do this is through physical exercise.

Movement is “the language of the brain,” as Anat Baniel states, and this statement is heavily supported by peer-reviewed literature and evidence-based articles. Exercise can directly influence brain activity through multiple mechanisms, such as increased oxygenation, enhanced gene expression, decreased stress responses, improved processing via the frontal lobe (The CEO of the brain), and optimized blood flow throughout the brain and body.[8]

We also have data showing that different exercise forms can yield different cognitive-based outcomes, specifically relating low-intensity exercise to improved cognitive processing and attention.[9] High-intensity exercise can also play a critical role in optimizing connectivity between networks responsible for affective and emotional processes. The choice is yours to make.

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Exercise isn’t just important for the body; it’s also important for the mind. It can improve your ability to learn and remember information, specifically, because physical movement increases the production of a protein called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is responsible for facilitating long-term changes in neural networks and optimizing connections throughout the nervous system.[10]

A 10-minute walk could be the best way to supercharge your productivity and take a much-needed break from your work. Try it out for yourself and see how you feel!

Find Time to Take a Cat Nap

There’s a reason you sleep a third of your life away: It’s vital for high performance and optimal brain function. And while taking a quick nap when you’re exhausted at work may seem counterintuitive for productivity and hitting work goals, the science backs it up.

Sleep disruption can cause significant cognitive and emotional problems, leading to fatigue, brain fog, and altered mental processing.[11] It’s no longer viewed as an option as research shows how important it is for the formation and consolidation of memories, further enhancing our brain’s abilities to learn and create new ways of thinking.

The importance of getting enough sleep at night is rarely disputed, yet taking a quick nap in the afternoon or mid-day could also prove highly beneficial, especially before a big meeting or after studying material for some time. And since 53% of adults nap regularly, there’s a near 50/50 chance you’re in the camp of viewing afternoon naps as a waste of time.[12]

Short bouts of sleep (around 10 minutes) have been experimentally shown to improve alertness and cognitive performance, lasting for up to an hour following a nap.[13] Once again, taking 10 minutes away from your day to focus on optimizing your brain and body could yield significant dividends down the road towards productivity and success in the office.

Putting It All Together

Effective workers don’t work consistently for 8 hours and clock out at the end of the day. Being efficient doesn’t always mean being consistent, so we need to understand how work takes its toll on the brain and body. Most people possess the ability to put in an 8 hours workday in 5-6 hours, especially when you consider that the average worker only works for 2 hours and 23 minutes out of their 8-hour workday.

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Yes, once again, you read that correctly! The rest of their day is used to search the internet, read articles, look for other jobs, and do whatever else workers can get away with while their bosses aren’t looking.

So, if you’re interested in putting in an entire day of work, use your brain and body to your advantage by creating effective daily habits of success. Using science can vastly improve our outcomes and potentially get us an edge to increasing our future earning power while also avoiding getting unnecessarily exhausted at work.

As always, it will be up to you to make it happen.

“You can have results or excuses. Not both.” —Arnold Schwarzenegger

More on Regaining Energy

Featured photo credit: Joyce Romero via unsplash.com

Reference

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Dr. Erik Reis

Peak-Performance Leadership Consultant

improve performance at work 4 Effective Ways To Improve Your Work Performance Greatly How To Give An Undivided Attention To Be More Productive How to Deal with Digital Distraction to Improve Your Focus How To Lead And Manage a Remote Team 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021

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Published on November 30, 2021

Entrepreneurial Burnout: 6 Ways to Avoid And Overcome It

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Entrepreneurial Burnout: 6 Ways to Avoid And Overcome It

Burnout became an especially painful issue during the pandemic when the majority of people worked from home, finding it difficult to draw the line between work and private life. However, entrepreneur burnout has been less discussed, despite evidence that entrepreneurs are at a higher risk of burning out.[1]

It may seem that as the boss, you are more in control of your time and work duties. Feeling stressed? Take a day off. Don’t feel like doing something? Give the task to someone else. But in reality, the responsibility of leading a company weighs heavy on many company owners.

In addition, when you’re passionate about growing your business, it can be tricky to notice the symptoms of burnout. It may take long months or even years of putting yourself through survival mode before you notice that your body or mind has raised a white flag.

The tips compiled here will help you avoid entrepreneur burnout and tackle already existing burnout symptoms, like exhaustion, sleep problems, irritability, weakened immune system, and others. However, if you feel that these have already become serious issues, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor or a psychotherapist in addition to following these tips.

1. Find a Reliable Business Partner

There’s a reason why most startups nowadays have at least two or three people on the founding team. Starting and growing a business is a challenging endeavor and can become a gargantuan task if you sign up to do it alone. Even if it may seem doable at first, new responsibilities, needs, and issues will arise as your company grows.

If you’re lucky, you already have a trustworthy partner to share the highs and lows of managing a business. If you’re going at it solo but would like to find a business partner, look for someone who:

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  • you trust and, ideally, have already worked with, either as colleagues or co-founders;
  • has a complementary skillset and temper;
  • has similar work habits and ethics;
  • will be equally invested in the business, both financially, practically, and emotionally.

Rihards Piks, the co-founder of on-demand supplement fulfillment service Supliful, shares that he and his business partner Martins were childhood friends and had already worked on several business ideas together before Supliful. Their close-knit partnership played a crucial role when their previous business was facing bankruptcy: “When we decided to take out personal loans to save our business from going under, we both took an equal share of the risk – and an equal share of the loan. Neither Martins nor I became a tag-along co-founder.”[2]

2. Set Your Priorities as Soon as Possible

When starting your business, the list of tasks and plans seems endless, and it’s clear as day that it’s not humanly possible to attend to all of them. That’s why priority setting is so important when you’re a company owner. In other words, take small but focused steps in the right direction.

If your company is still at a very early stage, prioritize the tasks that help you create a Minimum Viable Product or MVP to kick your business off and start attracting customers. An MVP is the most basic version of your business idea that can operate. Gather the first clients, and get valuable feedback.

If you’re leading an already established business, think about slowly transferring operational tasks to others, keeping the focus on company goals and other crucial aspects of your business.

Jonna Piira, the founder of Kali, worked on too many projects until she was forced to take some time off due to an unfortunate fall down the stairs. That’s when she realized she was experiencing entrepreneur burnout and decided to take a critical look at her list of priorities: “I reviewed everything that I was doing. I listed all of my commitments from most fulfilling to least. I then reviewed how much time each commitment was taking each week. Then I cut out the items at the bottom of my list.”[3]

3. Delegate Instead of Micromanaging

First-time founders are at the highest risk of entrepreneur burnout simply because they operate in high uncertainty and thus, feel they have to be responsible for every aspect of the business and control everything. More experienced business owners know that it’s impossible—and unnecessary—to participate in every process and decision within the company.

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Instead of trying to control everything, follow these tactics:

  • Hire great people and trust them to fulfill their responsibilities.
  • Remember the list of your priorities and focus on them instead of constantly checking your team’s performance.
  • If necessary, schedule weekly or monthly meetings with different teams and employees to stay in the loop about the most critical processes.
  • Delegate straightforward manual tasks to freelancers (e.g., from platforms like Fiverr or Upwork).
  • Prepare documentation to streamline how processes run within the company (more on this in the next section).

Toms Panders, co-founder and CEO of ad tech startup Setupad, said: “Prior to launching Setupad, I had spent almost 10 years in the advertising industry, so I felt that I knew how to do things the right way and wanted to participate in every decision made within the company. However, as the company was quickly growing, I realized that I must release the reins and trust my team if I want to stay sane and avoid burning out. I also realized that micromanaging is an overhead cost. I prefer to invest in improving the hiring process and education.”

4. Document Processes and Guidelines

To avoid having to participate in every process within the company, it’s a smart move to streamline your company’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) as soon as possible. These are the documented processes specific to your industry or type of work and describe the steps necessary to complete tasks according to industry regulations.

SOPs are crucial for running a smooth business operation and for onboarding new employees as swiftly as possible. Following such step-by-step documentation, anyone can complete tasks and lead basic projects.

When starting a small business, it may seem that SOPs aren’t necessary, but as your company grows, you’ll see that such documentation saves your valuable time that you’d have to spend mentoring instead of tending to other business goals. Now, this is not to say that SOPs substitute all human interaction during onboarding and delegating tasks, but they are a huge help and time-saver.

5. Use Apps That Save Time and Automate Tasks

Automation can help your business scale without you having to be involved in the mundane and repetitive part of it. Whenever you feel like you’re spending too much time doing something manually, check if there isn’t an app to do it for you! Chances are, there’s already existing technology that will solve your problem and automate processes without requiring much effort and time from you or your team, while you focus on creating value for your clients.

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For example, there’s no need to manage and assign tasks manually and control who’s responsible for what when there are so many great project management apps out there. Why create attendance shifts and issue invoices manually when effective time management tools can do it for you? Many of these tools offer free trials, so you can test them out before committing to a purchase.

Julia Gifford, co-founder of PR and content marketing agency Truesix shared with us: “I can’t emphasize how much time and nerves I saved when I switched from manually creating invoices in Google Docs to using invoicing software. It seemed inconsequential at first, which is why it took so long to make the switch. But it’s the little things that are done automatically that really ended up making a difference – like setting the date, due date, calculating totals, calculating VAT. It has made invoicing so much faster, not to mention with significantly fewer errors. Now I don’t dread this task every month like I used to, and am a much happier person for it.”

6. Nourish Your Life Outside of Work

Here’s a universal truth that many entrepreneurs have learned the hard way: it’s rarely only work that causes entrepreneur burnout. Usually, it’s a combination of different external factors, lifestyle aspects, and personality traits.

For one, the health of your mind is directly linked to the health of your body. Neglecting physical activities, eating unhealthy food, sleeping too little, smoking, and drinking too much—all these contribute to burnout.

If you experience stress, it’s crucial to learn to deal with it healthily, whether it’s through meditation, sports, massage, or something else that relaxes you. In addition, make sure you take sufficient breaks and exercise or at least take a walk also during work hours.

Armands Broks, the founder of fintech company TWINO, shares how he experienced burnout back in 2017: “I had to turn my company around and basically start from scratch. As burnout wasn’t a widely discussed topic back then, I went through it all alone. This experience taught me that to maintain mental health, all areas of life need to be in balance. You cannot focus only on work, neglecting your body or your emotions. If you cannot hold that balance, getting burned out is only a matter of time.”[4]

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That said, many passionate and ambitious entrepreneurs and especially startup founders find it hard to slow down and stop working when they still feel they could do so much. Armands Broks told us, “One of the difficult decisions I had to make was handing over the reins of my business to another person. I delegated my operational responsibilities, deciding to focus only on business strategy and growth agenda.”

Learning from his struggles, Armands has emphasized his company’s employee wellbeing strategy, placing even greater emphasis on mental health. For example, employees are allowed to take some days off for the sake of their mental health or simply resting.

Watch Out for Entrepreneur Burnout

Entrepreneur burnout can creep up on people who are ambitious and excited about what they do. In addition, entrepreneur burnout doesn’t happen only when things aren’t going well. Many company founders running successful businesses can be just as susceptible to this modern plague.

On the bright side, experiencing burnout often teaches a valuable lesson and forces people to switch to more balanced and healthy lifestyles. If you feel burned out now right now, follow these tips and hang in there! Chances are, you’ll come out of this stronger, calmer, and with a new set of priorities.

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Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Solutions via unsplash.com

Reference

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