It’s Monday morning and your alarm is blaring. You dread getting up. After lying in bed until the last possible moment, you finally put your feet on the ground, already exhausted just thinking about the day ahead of you.
While making yourself presentable for work, you become agitated and annoyed because interacting with your boss seems wildly unbearable. There was a time when you loved your job and were excited to go to work. You felt appreciated and valued. Now, all that’s changed and quitting is all you think about.
If this feels familiar to you, you aren’t alone. You’re burned out.
Job burnout can happen to any employee, no matter his position or pay. Burnout is more than just having an occasional “rough day.” It usually manifests as a result of prolonged stress. It can stem from many things, from a negative work environment to a lack of support or resources to poor work/life imbalance. Working at a self-storage facility can generate burnout because managers are often alone, isolated from other employees. Plus, frustration can build when dealing with absent-yet-overbearing superiors.
To determine if you’re burned out or just in a rut, answer the following questions honestly:
- Have you felt exhausted over an extended period of time?
- Are you disengaged from your job?
- Are you often late or absent?
- Do you feel like nothing you do matters, and no one appreciates it anyway?
If you answered yes to any of these, the following steps will help you identify the cause of your burnout and how to fight it.
Avoid ‘The Curse’
I coined the term “curse of competency” several years ago when I noticed my workload increasing while that of my coworkers stayed the same or lightened. This can happen when your boss sees you do your job well and knows you’re reliable and trustworthy. He feels invited to send more work your way because he believes you’ll get it done and can handle the burden. Resident self-storage managers often live this curse by handling tasks after hours simply because they’re on site.
Just say “no.” You can still be a good employee while knowing your limits. Reduce your workload and stop doing things after hours that aren’t 100 percent necessary and for which you aren’t being compensated. You control your tasks; don’t let them control you!
Move Around More
In self-storage, we tend to sit—a lot. When we’re done with work, we sit some more. The human body isn’t designed to sit all the time. There are many benefits to standing and moving around throughout the day. It gets you away from the desk and computer and gives you a little break. It’ll improve your mental and physical health as well as your focus.
Though it might seem like a chore at first, it’s important to make time for this. Before long, you’ll be able to see incremental, beneficial changes.
Clarify Your Role
Self-storage managers wear many hats. One of the quickest ways to reach burnout is not having a clear idea of what’s expected of you. Have you ever scored poorly during a facility evaluation because of a task you had no idea you needed to perform? It’s vital to have clear and specific “swim lane.” Managers need to know the tasks for which they’re responsible.
As I’ve managed people over the years, I’ve sometimes dropped the ball. I’ve forgotten to say “thank you” and neglected to spend enough time with certain employees. In some cases, I was completely oblivious to their needs because I was focused on (i.e., distracted by) something I thought was more important. My actions had a direct and sometimes negative effect on the work lives of others.
Time and again, I’ve wished my subordinates had said, “I could really use a little more one-on-one time,” or “I need more communication from you.” Take the time to be honest you’re your supervisors and coworkers. By telling them how you feel, you might be surprised by the weight that’s lifted from your shoulders. Besides, it just might help!
Be Catalyst for Change
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for dealing with burnout. Even if you go on a vacation full of surf, sand and umbrella drinks, the sun still sets. Returning to work is inevitable, and a vacation won’t make the problems go away. The same tasks, frustrations and people will be waiting for you when you get back. Occasionally, actual changes need to be made at work, and it may be up to you to be the catalyst.
If Necessary, Move On
There are times when it may be best to leave a particular job. Moving on from a toxic work environment is the best way to get back to enjoying your career. If you were let go today, how would it make you feel? If you’d feel as though a burden were lifted off your shoulders, then you might have your answer.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying you should walk out without a plan. You’re smarter than that. Don’t burn bridges. Be professional and courteous to your current employer. Put in the proper notices. Resist the urge to make some grand gesture and tell your supervisor what you think of him and to stick it where the proverbial sun don’t shine. Though this may feel exuberating and well-deserved, it isn’t.
Also, understand that leaving your job will impact your personal life and may make circumstances difficult for a while. Ask yourself if staying in your current role would be any better. If you decide that moving on is the right decision, make a plan. Build up a savings fund first. Discuss the decision with family or others it might affect.
Take a Healing Approach
Take time to heal and adjust to your next stage of employment. Moving forward doesn’t always mean improving your financial situation. It could mean going to a company that’s just starting out, or somewhere you’ll ultimately have room to grow.
I’ve personally wasted time at jobs I should have left much earlier. The damage it caused me to stay was immeasurable. I delayed because I was afraid of change. I had a mortgage, a family and the mindset that jumping ship wasn’t the adult thing to do. After the initial shock of leaving, however, I was happier than I’d been in years. My friends and family commented on how I seemed much more upbeat. At an industry convention, a peer even told me she saw a change in the way I looked and walked. I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
If any part of this article resonates with you, change may be needed. Weathering a storm that continues day in and day out isn’t heroic. If you can resolve issues at work, you might be best served by staying. If nothing’s going to change and you dread your job every day, leaving your employment situation might be best.
Don’t let the fear of change hold you back from what you want or need to do. Don’t let it keep you from missing out on opportunities simply because you’re afraid of taking the first step. Embrace change in every form and learn to grow and stretch.
Rick Beal is a co-founder of Atomic Storage Group, a self-storage management and consulting firm. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or stay up-to-date with all his publications and speaking engagements at www.linkedin.com/in/storagerick.