Burnout

I’ve been trying to outsmart it all night, and I randomly found this awesome Harvard Business Review article When Executives Burn Out: that’s it, I finally have a solution! (maybe)

Over the past few weeks, as usual in previous tech jobs, I’ve slowly taken on more and more work responsibilities, and felt it was just a matters of days if not hours before my body would decide to give up. Usually, my burnout are due to 3 elements: exhaustion, lots of stress during the day and lack of appreciation for the work I do. I’m always half-expecting to be at 95% capacity just under burnout threshold to do my job properly. As long as I have the right support system to slow down, it’s ok to reach 100% from time to time.

THIS IS NOT A JOURNAL, GET TO THE POINT! Here are some of the best points of this article, to try to systematically address and prevent the issue. I usually try to keep my own team way below 95% capacity to avoid burnout, but this list should help keeping me in check:

  • Tackle assignments as a team or a group. There is no need to save the world on your own, your A-player colleagues can certainly help make it feel you’re solving the task together: “People who have worked together have already established mutual support systems, ways to share knowledge informally, and friendly alliances”.
  • Make time for physical recreation time! Regular exercise, scream at people while biking on the Brooklyn Bridge or at taxis down the non-existent Second Avenue bike lane. “Physical exercise is helpful because it provides a healthy outlet for angry feelings and pent-up energy.”
  • “Meditation and relaxation methods — temporarily helpful though they may be — victims of burnout may become further enraged”, so think about it while enjoying your Headspace subscription.
  • Trust your peers and have them trust you. Even more important, trust your team, defend them and their work by being “a visible, vigorous, and powerful leader”.
  • Identify talents on your team burning out and “insist that they withdraw, get appropriate help, and place themselves first”.
  • “As technology changes, you need to retrain and upgrade”. This is true for yourself and for your managers.

Most people in tech startups will tell you that burnout is unavoidable; I wouldn’t disagree. Just like everything else in startups, you should have a fail-over process and monitor the health of your team and your own since the smart people your company hired are your biggest asset.

Please feel free to share other methods, I didn’t share more of mine since I stuck to the article, but I’d love to read yours. Writing this note definitely made me feel a lot more optimistic.