Picture this: It’s a Saturday morning. You’re at home in your PJs, sitting in bed. You blew off your friend who’s in town for the weekend because you’re exhausted after the four board meetings you’ve attended this week. You can feel a cold coming on, probably from that homeowner who got in your face during a site visit, screaming about the violation letter he received. Your spouse is out in the living room, annoyed at you for snapping at them over moving your stack of papers from the nightstand when you’d obviously left it there for a reason, and you’ve kicked the kids out of your bedroom, too, because you just need a little peace and quiet for like, five minutes PLEASE IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?!
If even one of these things happens to you (or a loved one!) on a regular basis, you could be experiencing some major burnout.
“Burnout” is one of those words that gets thrown around and brushed aside by the very people it impacts—people like you. You’re a kick ass manager! You’ve been in the trenches of community association management, you’ve got a little black book full of horror stories that you whip out every year at the CAMfire Conference and CAI National to get a few shocked giggles, and you’ve built a name for yourself and your company. You know your stuff.
And people who know their stuff often get sucked into romanticizing the idea of “burning the candle at both ends.” You’re getting so much done! That’s got to be a good thing! And it is…until it’s not.
It’s great until you’re pushing away your friends and family in favor of handling the stubborn landscaping vendor who is refusing to show up on time each month at your largest community.
It’s great until you’re spending more nights up fighting with QuickBooks and less time catching Z’s.
It’s great until those burning ends meet in the middle and you realize how completely burnt out you are, and you finally feel the weight of what “burnout” means.
Don’t let that be you. You can be your same Kick Ass CAM self without sacrificing your Loving Spouse self, or your Boy Scout Troop Leader self, or your Gymnastics Carpool Mom self, or your I’m Taking a Vacation and None of You Can Stop Me self!
Here are a few indicators that you’re in the throes of CAM manager burnout, and a few (baby) steps to set you off in the right direction away from your work life.
1. You’ve always got a head cold
A sniffle here, a cough there, maybe a headache or two throughout the week--probably not a big deal. But if you're practically snacking on DayQuil just to get you through your days, it's more than just the bug your kids brought home from school.
What you can do: Take a rest day. Turn your weekend (or maybe what was supposed to be your weekend before you spent your Saturday and Sunday finishing up that RFP) into a 3-day reprieve. And spend at least one of those days actually resting. Watch a movie, stay in bed, sip on some hot tea, and let your body spend time getting back to full health before you try to go out and exhaust yourself again.
2. You're always worried you haven't finished everything
If you lay in bed at night thinking you didn't get enough done, or that you didn't finish certain tasks, even though you did, you could be experiencing burnout. You probably didn't leave the stove on. I'm sure closed the garage and locked the door behind you. And you definitely saved your notes about that house that keeps leaving their trash can out. But that doesn't make shaking that feeling you forgot something any easier.
What you can do: Take a deep breath, and make a mental "Done" list at the end of each day instead. To-Do lists give me anxiety because all you can see is how much you still have left. But a "Done" list at the end of your day is a great way to review what you worked on, check off all of the boxes you completed (which will be extensive!), and remind yourself of what you actually are missing and can handle the next day.
3. But, you are forgetting more than you're remembering
Maybe you missed a board meeting because you forgot you were supposed to be in attendance. Or you forgot to send in the check to your new pool maintenance guy because that's usually on auto-pay. Maybe you forgot to send in your finalized contract for TOPS [ONE] (don't worry, our account managers have been there and know the struggle--they won't hold it against you!) on time.
What you can do: Try setting up a structure for each work day and making sure you check off each item on that list. Keep it realistic--you don't want to overdo it and make the burnout worse! But a handful of items you know you'll need to accomplish in a given day is a great way to stay on task and stay on top of all of your major tasks.