April 15 has passed and for many, burnout is alive and well. The long hours and intense deadlines have left you drained – physically and emotionally. While you may indeed be secretly wishing you could go bury yourself in your home for a month and sleep, the reality is that you may not feel you can stop the madness because now is your time to catch up on everything in your life that has been put on hold. Like a distance runner who just ran the race of his or her life, now is the time for you to find a way to make a quick recovery, but how?
Let’s take a look at how you can get back in the race quickly and effectively:
- Get Back to Healthy: One of the things that can get pushed to “later” during busy times is quite simply, healthy living. We eat more junk food, move less, sleep less and laugh less. Now is the time to recommit to some of those healthy habits. Try adding exercise as a calendar appointment, like it is as important as a client engagement. Plan your meals for the next week and make sure you are eating a few green things – not just green M&M’s. Go to bed early for a few weeks. Even 15 minutes extra will make a huge difference in the way you will feel.
- Schedule Your Vacation or A Few Days Off: You may not be able to take days off right now, but the act of planning them and getting them on your calendar will enable you to see the light after a stressful time. Oh, and pay for it now! If your time off is scheduled and paid for you will honor the commitment.
- Debrief on Your Own Performance: Many times we see that our firm will have a debriefing of what worked and what did not work during stressful times, but when is the last time you looked in the mirror or made the balance sheet of what worked and what did not work for your personal performance? After April 15 is a good time to reflect on you. Did you really do what you needed to do to get the most out of the season for your professional career? Did you keep your attitude in check? Where you a good team member? In other words, what did you rock at and what did you stink at? We are all human, so you will have things on both lists, but use this list as a learning tool and not one to beat yourself up.
- Recommit and Reconnect to Your Home and Family: When some say that home is where the heart is, they are not kidding. Balancing your life after times of stress are easier if you have a healthy and happy home life. Leave your computer and phone at the office. Have a movie night with the kids – or maybe two. Take your spouse out on a date. Plant some flowers – it’s spring for goodness sake. Make sure home and family jump back to the top of your list of priorities, right now.
- Find Your Yearly Goals and Read Them: It is easy to lose site of the exciting things you were going to accomplish this year when you have literally been tied to your chair for 2 months. Find those goals that you set late last year and read them. Then, develop a plan and set action steps for making progress. Re-energize your career, by re-finding those objectives that you will accomplish this year.
- Read: Pick up a good book and shut yourself off from the world for a little while and just read. I just read a great book “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor. It is technically a business book, but it was also a “pump me up” book. I found myself re-energized after I read it. You can pick the book that will help you the most. It can be personal or professional reading – but READ!
- Show Gratitude: Everyone feels better if they take the focus off of themselves and turn their attention to others. Show gratitude to others by writing notes, taking them out for coffee, telling them face to face or do something for them and keep it secret. The secret gratitude bomb is fun. Think of something that someone else would find really valuable, and do it for them without telling them. It might be buying someone their favorite candy or power bar and just put it on their desk with a thank you note. Or, maybe finish a project for someone without telling them it was you. Just a simple act of kindness and gratitude that will make their day!
- Just Say No: Assess the new things that enter your life and learn to say “no”. You can say it nicely, but practice saying it! The best way to guard against burnout and stress is by simply clearing your calendar.
While there are many causes of burnout, people are more likely to recover quickly by taking to heart some of these suggestions. Do what you can, but at least now you have a plan.
About the author
Sandra Wiley is the COO and Shareholder at Boomer Consulting, Inc. She is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant’s Alliance. Sandra has a passion for teaching the next generation leader and has developed the P3 Leadership Academy to elevate the top talent in firms throughout the country. She also assists in building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.