As the holidays wind down, leaders across the world are heading back to the office with wide eyes and excitement for what 2019 will hold. Armed with resolutions and goals, these leaders walk into their offices ready to tackle the world head on. However, something happens when they walk in the building – the stress of old deadlines, unfinished projects, and missed quotas is waiting. Before they know it, those new goals begin to fade and the wheels of the old start turning again.

If you’ve ever felt like this, you may be suffering from burnout. I know we are just starting a new year, and burnout should not even be part of our vocabulary yet, but as leaders and communicators, it’s a very real possibility.

If not managed correctly, burnout can cost not only your productivity but also your health. In fact, according to a study completed by the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, burnout cost the U.S. $190 billion in healthcare expenses as well as 120,000 stress-related deaths – you read that right: deaths!

A large cause of burnout is our ever-increasing scheduling demands. With productivity at the forefront of every leader’s mind, there comes an increase in programs, meetings, presentations, and travel. The reality is that there are only so many hours in the day, and as you add on something new, you must free up time somewhere else.

With such a high cost at stake, the team at Ethos3 leverages an easy-to-use exercise that we believe will help every leader start the new year out strong. It’s based around 3 simple concepts:

1. What do we want to START?
2. What should we CONTINUE?
3. What do we need to STOP?

As a leader, it is powerful to walk through these questions and write down 3-5 answers for each.

Begin with question one, putting down what you think will help your team move forward the farthest and fastest. Once you written down your answers, ask yourself how much time will this take up. It’s important to be honest when assessing the time and stress that new task will add. Once you have completed the Start assessment, move on to the Continue assessment.

Answering this question may be the easiest of the exercise. The programs and projects you plan to continue should be your most effective and productive parts of your team. It is important to remember during this part of the exercise to keep it limited to 3-5 things. By keeping it limited, it will help you identify the answers to the Stop question. Don’t worry – you don’t need to throw everything else out the window; this is more of an exercise to help you identify those programs, projects, or presentations that are simply ineffective.

Question number three is by far the hardest to answer. Every great leader wants to accomplish everything, but it’s simply not sustainable. Look over the entirety of your team’s commitments, and ask yourself what can we stop to make room for the new things we are going to start. These may seem obvious based on productivity or effectiveness, but they may also be more difficult to identify. Be sure that whatever you are going to stop frees up the equivalent amount of time as the things you are starting – remember, to avoid burnout, you must maintain a sustainable rhythm.

Burnout is real, and in our fast-paced society, it is an always-looming threat. As a leader, communicator, and presenter, it is important to start your year out strong and avoid burnout before you ever experience the cost. This simple exercise will help you to focus your team and focus your efforts. Though it may feel like you just can’t afford to take the time to work through it, the reality is, you can’t afford not to take the time.

Looking to learn more about how the team at Ethos3 can take some of the guesswork out of your next presentation? Contact us today!

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