Azadeh Williams is the Managing Partner of AZK Media, a global B2B agency helping technology companies grow in new and emerging markets.
Marketers are facing more scrutiny than ever before. With an uncertain economic climate, rapid technology disruption and changing consumer behavior, the role of marketing has never been more volatile. Marketers are often forced to do more with less and churn greater leads with less budget, resources and smaller teams. It’s no wonder marketing and communications professionals are seeing high burnout rates, with 83.3% reporting they are burned out.
So what are the common causes of burnout in marketing, and what can help empower marketers to be the best version of themselves?
Burnout Is Real, And It Happens To The Best Of Us
Even the most productive, passionate marketer can become a victim of burnout. And it’s an easy trap to fall into. Because it all starts with small bad habits. As an example, with a growing number of Slack channels, Google chats, Zoom meetings, LinkedIn messages, emails, instant messages and marketing communications, it can often end up feeling like a 24/7 cycle, with no respite.
But the small micro-habits we fall into—obsessively checking these messages and mindlessly dipping in and out of meetings—can incrementally, over time, lead to us feeling exhausted and burned out. Mentally, we always feel on high alert, which is not good for anyone’s cortisol levels.
Another example is alcohol and drugs. Marketing is rife with events, and it can be so easy to habitually equate client business meetings, office parties or downtime “letting off steam” with substance consumption. A few of these a week can suddenly add up to a bad habit. When those events stop, sadly the habit often doesn’t. In fact, recent studies have shown substance abuse and addiction have nearly doubled among workers since the pandemic began.
Turning Around Marketer Well-Being With Micro-Habits
Atomic Habits by James Clear is a book I recently read that really gets to the heart of being mindful in your everyday working and personal habits. Its baseline philosophy is that small changes can make profound differences to your well-being, productivity and reaching personal and professional goals.
Here are some practical examples I’ve come up with of how we marketers can use micro-habits to help manage burnout:
• Identify and eliminate the ‘time zappers.’ Do a time audit of your day. Which meetings can be cut from 30 minutes to 20 minutes? Which tasks can be automated or delegated? Even one hour of time back in your day each week can add up to an entire working week of time saved a year. Think of what you could do with an extra week off!
• Outsource to a specialist. Marketers who have to manage campaigns across multiple global regions often end up working across different time zones, juggling a lot to help their brand expand into new markets. But working with the right marketing partner can help you scale campaigns across those new regions, helping you regain quality time—and sleep—into your schedule.
• Take quality breaks. Rest doesn’t always mean sleep. Quality rest can include a gentle walk, meditation, listening to music or simply speaking with a friend. Marketing is often highly strategic and creative, so a quality break can often reenergize ideation and design thinking.
• Make switching off accessible. Is your bicycle at the back of your garage? Is your workout gear collecting dust somewhere on the top shelf of a cupboard? Yet, your phone and laptop are by your side, hour in and hour out. When you switch off, make your work items inaccessible (i.e., placed in “flight” mode) and your leisure items quickly accessible. We often forget these small habits can make such a big impact over time.
Even Champions Need A Break
Even the most talented sports champions have downtime and rest. It’s all about maintaining a healthy balance between optimum productivity and mindful well-being. But it all starts small, with those micro-habits, which can, when implemented successfully, amount to astronomical results both personally and professionally.
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