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Simple solutions for beating burn out in the workplace

burn-out.jpgWhat is burn out? Burn out is exactly that- burned out.  Like a wick that has exhausted itself, the flame dies often leaving the shell of the candle.

How it happens to you: as you enter the office on Monday morning, you’re excited to begin the new week.  You have new marketing ideas, lists of existing marketing efforts to check and tweak, you’re set in your priorities.  Having stopped for a Starbucks and being well rested, you’re amped up for a full day- it’s time to hit those goals.

As you enter the office, and set your things down on your desk, up chimes Sally about how roughly her weekend went- a lost client and then this morning a canceled listing.  That’s really too bad for Sally, she’s had a horrible last couple of months.  You reassure Sally that she’s going to be fine, but in your mind you know that Sally may not make it.

As you log on to your computer to check your emails, you find a few negatives yourself, nothing you cannot handle, but this time you’ve lost the first hour of your day to Sally and dealing with small fires of your own.  You begin to check the RSS reader to see what’s new from the weekend and you find nothing but negative nellies in markets all around the country, bickering over observations and opinions and how the real estate world has stopped spinning- the market is a mess.

Nearly noon now, you’ve lost all focus on what you had set out to accomplish today.  For some reason you’re spun, and you’re feeling the need to leave the office- it seems all the energy you left the house with is gone.

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Welcome to burn out

Many times I’ve been exactly where I just described, it’s human and natural.  But the biggest part of beating burn out is in how long it takes you to recognize it.  Knowing immediately that your enviornment is getting you down allows you to change your enviornment.  Sometimes it has nothing to do with the office, it could be the gloomy weather, the piles of snow outside of your door that keeps you from getting from point A to point B, but even here, there are solutions.

Here are a few solutions

  • Avoid negative Sallys.
  • Team up with like minded thinkers in your office.
  • Never let weak players play on your team.
  • If you’re stuck in the house- take a shower, get dressed, and put on your professional face.
  • Create a success first thing.  Complete two or three tasks first thing.
  • Turn off the RSS feeders for a few days until your goals are reached.
  • Create marketing tasks that return quick results.  Looking too far into the future can leave you exhausted.
  • Get control over something, even if it is organizing and cleaning your home office.
  • … Stay at Starbucks.  A laptop in a happy place where you can exchange smiles and positive feelings can keep you humming.  Who says you have to sit at a desk to be a Millionaire Agent?

The facts about me

I’ve never subscribed to motivational books, speakers, or anything of the sort.  I’m a logical and analytical thinker and often rely on my understanding and knowledge of myself and successes I’ve had.  But that’s me.  I realize that not everyone has such a handle on how they’re feeling to make quick changes before they’ve fallen too far down the slope of gloom.  So I hope these common sense reminders help you or someone you know.

Oh yeah, the right advice to give Sally?  Advise Sally to take a few days off- get away.  This will not only free the office of a negative burden, but might give your Sally a chance to put together a plan of her own.

Originally published March 24, 2008.

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.

34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Bill Lublin

    March 24, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Magnificent – You just made my day!
    May I have your permission to reprint this and distribute to my agents?

  2. Andy Kaufman

    March 24, 2008 at 11:22 am

    “Team up with like minded thinkers in your office.” – change office to around the world & you’ve nailed the heart and soul of why we twitter.

  3. Chris Lengquist

    March 24, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Sometimes I just leave the computer off and try not to even think about real estate. Two days of that and I’m almost always better.

  4. Ryan Hukill

    March 24, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Benn, GREAT post. All things I strive to do to stay positive and avoid burnout, but at times it’s nice to see a well-stated list to remind me or keep myself in check.

  5. Benn Rosales

    March 24, 2008 at 11:41 am

    @Bill absolutely!

    @andy you have great heart and soul, I always enjoy being in your office

    @Chris that’s because your other name is Sally. =]

    @Ryan sometimes you just don’t realize you’ve landed in a rut

  6. Matthew Rathbun

    March 24, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Awesome post! Many folks in our area are going through this, as the market is pretty tough. It’s very catchy. One folk get’s frustrated and then frustrates others. I tend to abandon work and PC’s for a day or so and get reconnected with my family. I needed to do that just this past weekend. I was glad that I did.

    Thanks for passing along your wisdom!

  7. Chris Johnson

    March 24, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Great friggin’ article.

  8. Wade Young

    March 24, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    I got burnt out and took one year off to write a book and keep my toes in the sand. I realized that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. In fact, I was really bored and looked forward to getting back to the office. The experience was good for me, though, because it will save me from retiring later on. I may cut back in my later years, but retirement will be too boring for me. One way to deal with burnout is to realize that being productive is fulfilling, although it doesn’t always feel like it in the moment. Doing nothing (retirement) may sound good, but it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be. When you feel yourself getting burnt out, remember that the alternative might not be as good as what you are already doing.

  9. ines

    March 24, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    I always surround myself with positive people – those couple of days did you good my friend 😉

  10. Laura S Flournoy

    March 25, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Benn,
    I am only a little late…. great post. I am passing on to agents….

  11. Benn Rosales

    March 25, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Laura, ag posts live on forever because of great commentators like yourself!

  12. Jonathan Dalton

    March 25, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Burn out comes and goes … at my old office there was a whiteboard with sales and listings for the months. When things were extremely slow last year I avoided the office because I just didn’t need to see it. I didn’t need the feeling that I wasn’t busting my ass.

    Much better is the whiteboard at my house with a list of everyone in my pipeline running a couple of dozen deep, a half-dozen listings (or soon to be listings) and properties in escrow.

    You often can tell my mood by the number of unread items in my RSS reader. When times are a bit tough, the posts stack up because I don’t need to see doom and gloom or pithy pissing contests.

  13. Mark De Chambeau

    April 24, 2009 at 7:31 am

    I have had a very strong 18 month run. I hit a few bumps this first quarter and now I don’t want to play anymore. This post is giving me some daylight to gear up for the rest of the year. I was thinking that maybe I need to take a vacation? I really have not had a real vacation in a few years.

  14. Bruce Lemieux

    August 14, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    What a great post – I can *so* relate.

    In this business right now I find that I’m surrounded by a lot of client stress – tough negotiations, homes on the market longer than normal, clients in tough financial situations, etc. To help maintain a positive attitude (and sanity), I remind them and myself that you should worry about the things you can control. Stressing out over ‘the market’ and other factors outside your control is nonproductive, and mentally destructive. Make a point to focus on the positives, and taking actions on things you can manage. This is a daily affirmation.

    As far as Sally goes, I removed myself from a traditional office environment a few years ago. Most real estate offices are petri dishes for toxic negativity.

  15. Russell Shaw

    August 15, 2010 at 2:50 am

    A wonderful thing for anyone to read! Excellent post!

  16. Susie Blackmon

    August 15, 2010 at 3:01 am

    I got rid of burnout by escaping the 18th century in NC. 😉 Making lemonade out of lemons, one squeeze at a time. Always a pleasure reading intelligent posts, in abundance here on AG.

  17. Denise Hamlin

    August 15, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Hi Benn ~ A really good post with some really good common sense solutions.

    I think one of the difficulties in our profession is maintaining some kind of balance. In other words to actually have a life outside real estate. Taking time off should be on the list. Call it a preventative measure if you will. If you have balance in your life you’re much less likely to experience burn out.

  18. Erica Ramus

    August 16, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Great post Benn. Negative energy feeds on itself so you have to distance yourself from people who suck the life out of you.

    Find positive activities and positive people to keep you energized.

  19. elizabeth cooper-golden

    August 17, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    I’ve been feeling “something” lately and couldn’t quite put my finger on it….I’d have to say it’s burn out after reading this. Since opening my office this year, I feel I MUST be there everday for the agents, whether I really need to be or not. I’m not an office person by nature, so it has been a stretch for me to learn to enjoy it. I left today because I simply could not focus on what I needed to do today. Maybe I should do that more often 🙂 Surely the sky won’t fall when I’m not there, lol.

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