Last year I worked with a team that was burnt out. Their business was seeing double-digit growth. They were viewed by the larger organization as one of the star accounts, a desirable place for new hires to learn excellence.
But where the burnout showed up was in their turnover. They kept losing their best talent. Why? Because people can bring the best of themselves by sheer determination, but not forever. Eventually, they were giving up.
A big part of burnout is decision fatigue. And most of us are feeling it now. When every decision feels life or death, it’s especially fatiguing.
The good news is that we can fight decision fatigue and burnout with a few simple techniques. That’s true for you and for your team.
For example. Maybe you impulsively bought a leather jacket on sale in January, but haven’t had a single place to wear it (me).
Maybe you know there are dynamics in your team that aren’t great, but you avoid the issue because some days it doesn’t seem that bad. And after all, the numbers are good.
Maybe your team decides to present something to management that never felt quite right, but there’s only one voice willing to speak up on the team because everyone else has been shamed into silence.
Fatigue will cloud our judgment in lots of small, invisible ways.
How do you combat it?
- Make important decisions first. This can mean having a quarterly plan with no more than three overarching priorities. These can all be work (for a team) or they can be work and personal for an individual. Once you have priorities, make sure what you are doing every day serves those priorities.
- Remove distractions. The obvious ones are the phone and computer. Less obvious are conversations that are about gossip and complaining, not caring for one another, ideation, or problem-solving. Teams bicker, avoid one another, or hoard their work to avoid a decision to clear the air. If you are a team leader, are you thinking about how your team dynamics support or distract the group?
- Simplify. Some people have a work “uniform” to keep things simple. The same is true for work routines. Yes, we want variety, but sometimes predictability makes things easy.
- Plan ahead and cluster like decisions. If you plan your meals for the week on Sunday, you don’t have to think about it each day when you are making other important decisions. Do like things together, and plan ahead.
- Take breaks. Get enough sleep, meditate, exercise. And take breaks during the day, the week, and the month. At the most productive company I ever work for, we took a 60-90 minute lunch break together every day. And we were crushing it.
If you want to bring out the best in yourself and your team, it’s not always the big ideas. Just managing fatigue so that you can bring the best of yourself to small, and large, decisions can be transformational.
All my best,