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I’m So Over It! Battling Self-Storage Job Burnout and COVID-19 Fatigue

Job burnout can happen to any self-storage employee at any time, but particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, which has everyone on edge. A manager shares a few things that “set her off,” how to know if you’re fatigued and some strategies to get out of the slump.

As self-storage managers, we face a number of challenges every day, and even more so since the coronavirus pandemic began. I’m sure, like me, you have days that make you throw your hands in the air and say, “Really!?” For example, here are a few things I feel myself wanting to say to customers lately:

  • Don’t call me first thing in the morning or leave messages demanding that I call you back immediately because you failed to pay rent and are now locked out of your unit. Your poor planning isn’t an emergency on my part!
  • Leaving trash outside your unit … Not cool! That makes me want to put it right back in your space. Yes, my dumpster has a sign that states “office use only,” so, of course, you throw trash over the fence and pile furniture in front of it. I live for these days, to clean up your filthy mattress that not even a mouse would use for a nest.
  • Really? You can’t afford to pay your $56 storage bill, but you just came back from a marvelous vacation and want to show me photos?
  • So, it’s my fault you can’t pay your rent? You come in here, using cuss words that would make a sailor blush, angry at me because your unit is overlocked. I only emailed you twice and called three times, but it’s my fault you forgot your payment.

Sensing an attitude? Well, it’s no wonder. Self-storage managers deal with a whole lot more than this every day, and yet we come to work with a smile on our face and greet customers in a friendly manner. To receive a smile in return is a rare gift we used to take for granted. Now in the age of COVID-19, we have look to in customers’ eyes to see if they even acknowledge our existence, let alone if they’re smiling at us.

Recognizing Burnout

I’m preaching to the choir, I know, but do you ever wonder if you’re burned out and just can’t acknowledge it? We’re living in trying times, and it can be difficult to articulate what you’re feeling. Here are a few signs that you’re getting fatigued:

  • You wake up in the morning and try to figure out if you can call in sick for the day.
  • You have daily chores to do but hope someone else does them. You don’t even want to think.
  • You do the same thing at the same time every day, and don’t even think about what you’re doing or why.
  • You get excited when you see a new topic on the Self-Storage Talk online community and wonder if you should make a comment or let it go to someone else because “Well, everybody knows how to do that!” Or do they?
  • You used to doodle during your downtime at work, and now you don’t even have the energy for that. In fact, you have zero energy in or out of the office.

Pulling Out of the Slump

You might be thinking, “Yeah, OK, so what?” So, there’s someone else out there, who doesn’t have a job, who’s willing to step up and do yours, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. But don’t get nervous; just think about what you can do that’s different, that’ll lighten your day, that’ll bring a change—even a small one—to make you feel like getting out of bed.

Here’s just one idea: Clear a space on your facility grounds and plant new flowers or bulbs where you can watch them grow and bloom. It’s all about anticipating something new and different.

Have a plan for your workday. Even if most of your days are full of routine, throw something new into the mix. Don’t forget to include a “nothing” day in which you don’t plan anything. If that’s what you end up doing that day, so be it. You deserve a nothing day.

You might also try completing your chores in a different pattern. Walk the property in a different direction. Stay outside for just 10 minutes longer and breathe in the fresh air. You’ll feel the difference … maybe not the first day, but with the sunshine hitting your skin, you’ll soon feel renewed. And your attitude will be changed, too.

When you go to the mirror in the morning, give yourself a smile. And then think of something you can do to feel good about your day. Find joy in you! It shows on the outside and will carry through to others.

Terri Friesner is a self-storage manager who’s been in the industry more than 14 years. She loves facility marketing and helping customers solve their storage needs. She and her husband, who also works in storage, just celebrated 18 years of marriage. She joined the Self-Storage Talk online community shortly after it launched in 2008 and remains a regular contributor. To reach her, email rtf.randal.terri@gmail.com.

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