Project Managers: 5 Best Tips on How to Avoid Burnout

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Burnout is a very real risk in many stressful fields. When you’re part of a team that handles big projects, tackling stress and burnout should be one of your top priorities. Project managers need to be aware of the state of their team and how to improve their productivity in the most effective way possible.

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To reduce and avoid burnout is one of the best ways to save your projects from failure and propel your team to new heights. Here’s how to do it.

5 Best Tips on How to Avoid Burnout

1. Adequate Rest

The importance of proper rest can’t be understated. No matter how hard you want to work, you need some adequate shut-eye and relaxation. In the realm of project management, this seems like a rarity. Project managers often find themselves in the same eat-sleep-breathe cycle when handling any large project. Sleep becomes a relic of the past and both managers and their teams suffer for it.

It’s crucial that you avoid getting into this cycle. However, this is no easy task. When you’re handling an important project, when do you have time to rest? Between organizing work and managing your team members, it feels like an impossible feat to get any shut-eye, especially when there’s a deadline looming over your head. 

It’s important to keep in mind that rest isn’t just a waste of time. It’s a crucial part of productive work. Without rest, you won’t see any kind of positive results from your work. What’s more likely is that your quality of work will deteriorate. To avoid burnout, you’ll want to get enough rest every single night. Crunching before a deadline can only buy you so much time, and it won’t keep you well-rested and productive.

2. Better Planning

Managing stress is all about planning ahead. Most unpleasant surprises that happen during large projects are caused by inadequate planning. With no predictability, it’s easy for your team to get caught up in something that they did not anticipate. Any missed task or component could contribute to the team’s stress if it’s not accounted for.

It might seem like the most obvious piece of advice, but better planning would definitely reduce the chances of this happening. Try your best to anticipate any potential risks during your project while accounting for your team’s strength and adaptability. Solicit advice from experts in the field you’re working in and make sure you’re doing everything you can to prepare for the unexpected. 

You can never get absolutely everything under control, but any amount of preparation will leave your team more prepared for any unexpected occurrences. This will drastically reduce stress while working on a project, as the team will know that they are equipped to handle it.


Picture 1. Planning is important

3. Recognizing Your Team’s Limits

Every team wants to tackle ambitious projects. They often come with a whole bunch of benefits for both you and your team. While it’s true that larger projects often bring in more profits, that’s not the only thing worth looking forward to. Handling a big project gives your team the experience and reputation you need to attract more clients and take on even bigger projects. It’s something that drives every team towards success.

This doesn’t mean that you should let your ambitions get the better of you. To avoid burnout, you have to learn to say no every once in a while. If you deem the project too difficult for your team, it’s best to let it go. Let’s say you expect a massive product launch that is slightly bigger than what your team can handle. Even if it’s something you’ve been meaning to work on, it’s not worth the trouble of putting your team through enormous stress. You would be better off gradually working your way towards bigger projects. Jumping right into something difficult won’t provide desirable results.

Read How to Motivate Your Team?

4. Team Building Exercises

Your team needs to be a cohesive whole in order to function properly. If they aren’t familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses, it’s likely that this will reflect on their performance while working on a project. When your team members don’t know if they can rely on one another, how can you expect them to build trust? At its core, your team requires quite a bit of teamwork to effectively handle projects without burning out. The question is: how do you increase the cohesiveness of your team and create a better-synergized whole? 

Team building exercises are considered an ideal way to help teams get to know each other and how they function in stressful environments. As the name suggests, you’re using these exercises to build a “team”. Preferably, you’ll want to choose exercises that will help your team handle relevant projects. 

The exercises themselves aren’t difficult to come up with. There are hundreds of great suggestions online for every field that you could ever need. The difficulty comes in organizing these exercises so that every team member can participate and learn from it. Oftentimes, not all of your team members will be situated in the same location, or even in the same country. This means you have to open up channels of communication to get them to participate in team-building exercises. If you’re creating an event, using convenient digital event services can connect you to remote team members. This will give them the opportunity to help better integrate into the team and learn how their fellow team members function.

5. Creating a Relaxing Environment

There are several elements that determine whether or not your team members will burn out. In many lines of work, teams handle enormous projects with harsh deadlines and come out feeling relatively fine. It’s not just the work or cooperation that gets to them, it’s the work environment that they’re in. If you provide your team with an environment in which they can relax and catch a breather when they need it, you’re going to find that it’s going to show very positive results. And in the same time, you will avoid burnout.

Creating a relaxing and welcoming environment is pretty easy. Consider all the things that help people relax. For some people, listening to music is the most relaxing activity they can imagine. Others will prefer zoning out while watching TV or playing video games. It’s just as common to find individuals that see exercise as the ideal relaxation. All of these things can help team members unwind for a short while and come back to the project even stronger. These are all things a project manager can provide for the work environment with relative ease.

Set up a relaxing lounge or game room for your team members. If they feel like they’re too stressed out from working all day, they should be given a good half hour to relax and unwind. It’s a net positive move, as this relaxation rejuvenates them and prepares them for further challenges to come. Introduce a TV or gaming system and add some speakers. Some yoga mats could help people do their daily workouts and exercise stress away. With very few additions, you can do quite a lot.

Relaxing environment

Picture 2. Relaxing environment

Are Project Managers Ready to Avoid Burnout? 

There are many ways to help prevent team members from burning out. Good project managers will try to apply most, if not all of them so that they can keep their team fresh and productive. Consider the above examples on how to avoid burnout and you’ll see quick improvements.

Nick is a blogger and a marketing expert currently engaged in projects for Media Gurus, an Australian business, and marketing resource. He is an aspiring street artist and does Audio/Video editing as a hobby.

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Project Managers: 5 Best Tips on How to Avoid Burnout was last modified: November 12th, 2020 by Milica Vujasin
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