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Self-storage management jobs can be heavily tasked and stressful, which means the people who do them are at risk of burnout. Here are some common symptoms to watch for and tips to help you break out of a slump.

Matthew Eoff

March 15, 2022

8 Min Read
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To run a self-storage operation effectively, the facility manager must juggle many tasks and responsibilities. Though some duties may seem small, they can pile up and wear down even the best employees. It’s important to recognize when you’re in danger of burning out and what you can do to overcome it.

Self-awareness is key when considering the internal and external factors that can cause job burnout. We all love the “honeymoon” stage of a new position when everything is going great, people are friendly and getting along, and you’re energized to get everything done. As time passes, though, things change. Perhaps greater expectations are placed on you, or your schedule becomes more demanding. Tasks can become less satisfying to complete, or you may develop a sense of dread about going to work.

It’s important to be honest with yourself and not try to simply “deal with it.” Just like your stomach tells you when you’re hungry, your mind will give you signs that something needs to change for you to be at your best.

Mental health is something we should all take seriously. We owe it to ourselves—especially if we love our profession—to realize when we need a break, or something needs to improve. Too many people believe that if they just keep going, they’re proving their worth; but there’s no reason anyone should ever compromise their well-being for a place of employment. It’s perfectly normal to be stressed out at times, but it isn’t normal to suffer.

Let's look at some common symptoms that may signal that you are feeling overly fatigued in the self-storage workplace and some strategies for shaking your way out of the slump.

Symptoms of Job Burnout

Irritability. This is one of the first signs, and one that’s easily recognized by you and others. If you notice that you’re snapping at people, it may be because you feel more stress than usual. If you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, you must release that tension, but it can manifest in negative ways. Instead of being the best version of yourself as an employee, co-workers and customers may start to notice that you’re more difficult to deal with. This can also lead to problems at home.

Feeling tired or overwhelmed. If you’re doing too much at work, it’s only fair to assume that you’ll feel more tired and overwhelmed on the job. There are only so many hours in a day. If you already feel like you put in too much time, it’ll begin to feel like there’s no room to breathe. If there are too many things being asked of you, it’s time to set healthy boundaries.

Lack of motivation. If you dread going to work every morning to a job you typically love, it may be time to find an alternative. While the self-storage industry has many positives, including helping people in a time of need and being part of the local community, it isn’t so great when you’re condescended to, hear horrible stories from tenants or feel like you aren’t accomplishing anything special.

Declining work quality. It’s a wonderful feeling when our performance exceeds even our own expectations. Maybe you nailed a sales call perfectly or managed to help a customer when no one else could. However, when we’re burned out, our work quality fades, and we tend not to care as much. Cutting corners, not double-checking procedures or forgetting to do the easy things are prime examples. When someone’s fatigued, they feel like they just want to go home as soon as possible. This can create problems when you have a lot of responsibilities and must be held accountable.

There are many more possible warning signs of job burnout. These are just a few of the most common. Don’t be afraid to conduct your own research online or through your employer.

Getting Your Mojo Back

When it comes to dealing with job fatigue, it’s important to listen to your body. If something feels off, it may be asking for a change. It’s one thing to know you’re burned out; it’s another entirely to feel re-energized and ready for the workday, no matter what comes your way. Here are some strategies to help you combat and overcome those tired feelings:

Communicate. This is essential. Employers should have an open-door policy, so staff can share their thoughts at any time without fear of being penalized or judged. Your company should want you at your best since you’re representing the brand; and you should be able to say what you’re feeling and how your supervisors can help you. They should attempt to find a healthy solution to help you and the business. If you don’t feel you can communicate your concerns with your employer, it may be time to find another job.

Just don’t expect anyone to know how you’re feeling without telling them. They may be unaware of what you’re going through, even if they’re happy to help. It can also be useful to communicate with family and friends about what you’re going through, as they may have ideas on what you can do to improve the situation.

Find the cause. This is where soul searching comes into play. There may be one or many reasons why you feel burned out. Are you working too much? Are you getting tired of doing the same things every day? Do you feel underappreciated? The root of the issue may be one specific thing or a combination, but to fix the problem, you need to know the source. While it may seem silly, simply keeping a journal of triggers and stressors can go a long way toward identifying the major issue.

Change the scenery. While there may be limits to what a change of scenery can look like in self-storage, it can make a world of difference. For example, if you work with an assistant, it can be beneficial to switch roles for a while. Instead of you primarily working with customers, take some time to perform facility beautification or off-site marketing. If your company has multiple sites in your area, see if you can cover a different facility for a while. Though you may be performing the same role, the change of location may give you a fresh perspective.

If you work alone at a single facility, this can be a little tougher. One strategy is to create a task sheet in which items are completed on different days. Instead of giving yourself a long list of items to do every day, spread out the tasks as the week progresses. Another approach is to focus on one of your weaknesses. If you struggle with sales calls, there are plenty of resources to help you improve. If you’re confused about security issues, research ways to help the business in this regard.

The small things will go a long way. If there are opportunities for any kind of change, it may be wise to take them.

Take a break. Sometimes we all need to get away from the workplace for a bit. If possible, take that vacation of which you’ve always dreamed. If your employer offers paid time off, it’s for your benefit. You’ve earned it. Use the time to completely get away from work. Don’t force yourself to answer calls or emails. There’s a reason why other employees are hired; let them do their jobs. There aren’t many situations in self-storage in which your input is needed immediately when you’re off the clock.

If vacation or sick days aren’t available, your options are limited. Still, you sometimes just need a day or two to recharge your battery. You can try pulling back and doing just the bare minimum at work for a while, though your owners certainly won’t want to hear this. To be clear, I’m not saying it’s OK to pull up your favorite streaming service while at work. Rather, take a day in which you perform tasks that may be less stressful than others. A strong word of caution: Don’t do this continuously. Bad habits are difficult to break. If you find yourself always doing the minimal, it will become the norm, which will hurt your career.

Self-Care

There should never be any shame in feeling like you’re burned out. Most self-storage managers have a lot on their plate. The business involves so much more than just sitting behind a desk and renting units. You owe it to yourself to be happy, and being overwhelmed can have a major negative effect on your well-being.

Be proud of the work you’ve accomplished and understand that everyone needs a break from time to time. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many resources available, including online industry forums where you can communicate your concerns to others. I personally have used self-storage message boards many times. If you take advantage of these, you’ll know you aren’t alone in how you feel, and there are people and colleagues out there who can help.

Matthew Eoff is owner of Enhancing Self Storage, which offers staff training. He’s worked in several industry positions over the past eight years, including part-time manager, maintenance employee and area manager overseeing six California locations. With a background as a military police officer, he takes pride in analyzing situations and can translate trends and predictable outcomes. He enjoys sharing information to improve the industry community. To contact Matthew, email [email protected] or follow him on LinkedIn.

About the Author(s)

Matthew Eoff

Matthew Eoff has worked in several positions in the self-storage industry over the past eight years, including part-time manager, maintenance employee and area manager overseeing six California locations. He shares information to improve the industry community. With his background as a military police officer, he takes pride in analyzing situations and can translate trends and predictable outcomes. To contact him, e-mail [email protected] or follow him at www.linkedin.com/in/matthew-eoff-a59666139.

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