Avoiding Burnout as a Consultant
As consultants serving an array of customers — all who have hired us to solve pressing problems — it is not unusual to experience burnout. This manifests in a variety of ways: procrastination, avoidance, negativity, etc. Most of the time, we don’t have the option of walking away from the work so we have to work through the burnout. Certainly vacations and time away from the office helps ease burnout, but when that is not possible we must find ways to fight through and remain productive. Here are some of the things that I do to work through burnout:
- I keep a list of “someday” projects that I’d really like to do that are different from my regular client work but are still profit-focused. Putting a few hours into brainstorming a project like this is wildly energizing for me and tends to make me feel better about the current work I’m doing.
- Look for some quick accomplishments that you can perform. Getting a few successes on the record can rejuvenate you from a slump.
- OK this one is weird, but works for me. Sometimes my burnout is coming from negativity in a specific relationship and so I do something for that client or individual that I think they’ll like. For instance, once I baked cookies for a person I found myself loathing, essentially doin the opposite of what I wanted to do.
- Seek out a mentor. Call someone whose opinion and advice you respect.
- Take on new projects… optimizing your company’s website for search engines or manage a social media campaign.
- Write down the big picture of what you are working toward and post it in a visible place at your desk. “I’m working toward expanding job opportunities for kids who don’t go to college.” “My goal is to provide data by which my client can make the best possible decisions.”
- Do something wildly different — if you are not a writer, then write an article for an industry magazine.
- Update your resume and apply for some jobs! This always helps you see a world outside of your own sphere.
- Take a damn nap for god’s sake! Sometimes burnout is just caused by fatigue. Go to bed early and make sleep a priority.