When was the last time you were really burnt out?
Even the mere term burnout conjures up images of all-nighters endured in a caffeine-induced haze. Yet, the truth of the matter is that burnout comes in many forms, and doesn’t just reserve itself for exam week in college. Without the proper precautions, you could be well on your way to burnout right now.
Reports indicate that stress accounts for 60% of all lost days in the workplace. And when you work in an industry as competitive as sales, stress can multiply rapidly. Unsuccessful calls add up. Numbers and quotas egg you on. It’s all too easy to become dissatisfied with your work or obsessed with always hunting down the next big prospect. Suddenly you become irritable, less productive, and maybe even physically ill.
Fortunately, burnout is preventable. Work doesn’t have to be a tireless cycle of burning out, crashing, and then burning out again later. Experts in psychology and sales alike offer practical advice for stopping burnout before it even begins.
Best Tips to Prevent Sales Burnout
Ritual and Routine
A common symptom of burnout is the nagging feeling that there’s just never enough time. Keeping a routine, even a loose one, makes each day a bit more manageable.
Do what you can to manage your time, and you’ll be less likely to feel like you’re losing control by the hour. There are to-do list apps, reminders on phones, and the old-fashioned phone-a-friend method to hold you accountable for how you spend your time both at work and outside of work. For those who thrive on a strict schedule, it’s even possible to plan your day up to the minute.
Of course, not everyone thrives under a rigid structure or routine. Even so, it is still important to have established rituals to serve as markers in your day. These give you tangible points of progress. It could be a moment as simple as your morning coffee, or an extensive activity like going to the gym a few times a week or signing up for meditation courses.
The Company You Keep
Sales Burnout can also cause you to become snippy with your coworkers, or even your clients. That’s why it’s super important to cultivate meaningful relationships outside of work, particularly outside your career field.
Entrepreneur Andrew Griffiths explains that “often the competitive nature of sales encourages…salespeople hanging out with other salespeople,” and suddenly your sphere of influence becomes extraordinarily insular. You should maintain healthy dynamics with your teammates, but having connections outside of the sales world means that you won’t be comparing numbers or swapping work stresses after-hours.
Goals and Action Plans to Avoid Sales Burnout
Similar to having a routine, setting both long-term and short-term goals will help to ensure that you don’t fall into feeling like you’re running behind. In a broader sense, you should be increasing your self-efficacy.
Self-efficacy isn’t about the volume of work that you’re getting done–for most people, focusing on that would just be more stressful. Instead, self-efficacy is concerned with “having the belief in your own ability to accomplish meaningful goals and tasks.” Psychology Today advises increasing self-efficacy through “performance mastery experiences.”
Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you actually have to master anything. It’s just a fancy way of referring to accomplishing goals. When we accomplish a goal, we get a rush of satisfaction. Our brain gets in the habit of problem-solving and goalkeeping and spurs us to keep going.
Thus, increasing your self-efficacy means setting realistic goals and accomplishing them. Realistic is the keyword here. Start with the most basic of goals. You might even try putting a task you’ve already done on your list and crossing it off.
Relish in the victories of a completed task, no matter how small. As this becomes a regular habit, your brain will associate productivity with that sense of mastery instead of a sense of dread and avoidance.
Self-Care Basics to Prevent Burnout
The biggest culprits when it comes to burnout are the most basic: sleep deprivation and irregular meals.
Sleep deprivation alone is enough to make anyone a grump. If you’re not getting the standard 7-8 hours a night, you’re already risking some burnout, even if you consider yourself to be a night owl. It’s not about your capacity to endure. It’s about the human body and its basic need for rest.
Spending extensive hours at work will also throw a wrench into your meal schedule, and many consider irregular eating habits to be another symptom of burnout that really only makes functioning more difficult. If you’re finding yourself scarfing down dinner in front of your computer or skipping meals just to get more work done, you’re depriving yourself of the basic energy that you need to exist, let alone do your job well.
Know and Use Your Resources
Avoiding sales burnout takes some level of self-examination. There are plenty of methods and resources available for anyone struggling with stress and anxiety, but sometimes it takes time to figure out what works best for you. And many of us are hesitant to take that time because we’re convinced we must keep working no matter what.
Taking care of yourself is key to doing your job well. Sales productivity depends on more than just cranking away on phone calls. It’s not irresponsible to take the time you need. It is irresponsible to just keep chugging along haphazardly until you crash. Know what resources are available to you, use any support systems you already have in place, and don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve stretched yourself too thin.
Most importantly, if you think your anxiety and stress may be a chronic issue or troubling pattern, don’t hesitate to talk to a professional. Though in many cases, work-related stress and burnout can be avoided by preventative practices and careful organization.