project management fatigue

5 Tips to Overcome Project Management Fatigue

An unfortunate reality for many of us, project management fatigue can lead to feelings of burnout, exhaustion, and resentment, and is an ongoing issue many industries are currently facing in light of the pandemic. 

Whether it be through the form of medical negligence claims within the hospital industry, legal malpractice in the pharmaceutical industry or a loss of consumer trust within the digital marketing hemisphere, it’s vital to do all you can to avoid project management fatigue when you start to recognize things taking their toll.

The following five effective methods listed below could help significantly as well, allowing you to overcome any feelings of project management fatigue you are feeling both now and in the future.

1. Take breaks

When you’re ill, you take time off work and rest. So, why don’t we treat feelings of burnout and fatigue in the same way? After all, it’s so important to take care of your wellbeing and get more rest when you can – in certain industries it can be potentially fatal if you don’t. 

In the hospital industry, for instance, if a midwife is feeling burnt out, they could easily make an unintentional mistake – a misdiagnosis, an incorrect treatment dosage, a poor patient handling – and land a claim of medical negligence against them

As such, it’s important to be aware of your own situation and not be afraid to ask for some time off. And, even if you aren’t in a position to take a sick day, there are still ways you can incorporate respite into your daily schedule and reap the benefits. 

Taking small breaks from work throughout the day can leave you feeling more refreshed and ready to tackle the next challenge, for instance. In fact, scientists have found that planning your schedule in this way can actually make you more effective and productive.

There’s some debate as to what the optimum work-to-break ratio might be, but the most recent data suggests the ideal method is to work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

While this may seem like a simple strategy on the face of it, taking time to disconnect from your desk can offer so many benefits – from helping you feel less tired during the day to ensuring you manage projects at your optimum. 

2. Write things down

One of the easiest ways to tackle project management fatigue is to simply write things down. This is because studies have shown that writing out outstanding tasks frees up brainpower and minimizes the effects of negative emotions on your workflow.

Other studies have also found that people who write down their goals in vivid detail are between 1.2 and 1.4 times more likely to achieve them; a phenomenon said to be due to something called the ‘generation effect’. 

This effect essentially means that we, as humans, are better at remembering material that we have generated ourselves over the information we have only ever read. Therefore, by writing down a goal or task that you have previously only thought about, you naturally reduce the risk of something slipping through the cracks. 

3. Quantify your goals

It’s no secret that it’s helpful to visualize your goals. But, a lot of the time, the vision we have in our heads can feel like an unreachable dream – especially while experiencing project management fatigue.

So, how can you translate your goal into something tangible when you’re simply too exhausted? Well, a simple strategy you could think about employing is to quantify your goals.

Giving your goals measurable parameters has a huge range of advantages; as well as putting your longer-term goals into perspective, it can help you to direct your focus more effectively, save you time and make it easier to take any added pressure off your shoulders.

One of the best methods to utilize for this is known as the SMART technique – a set of criteria that provides you with the framework to use, meaning less work for you and your already tired mind.

4. Prioritize

You might already be using an effective to-do list but, if you’re still experiencing project management fatigue, you may want to start prioritizing your workload.

While you’re experiencing burnout, it can feel like you have no energy to accomplish your project aims. As such, putting the most important tasks first will allow you to tackle the big things when you have the most energy, instead of having to push on.

Deciding which of your tasks should take priority will also make any bumps in the road a lot easier to manage. If you’re burnt out or experience a setback, for example, your other tasks can be deferred much more easily, because they are smaller or not as pressing. 

Arranging your work in this way gives you a bit more breathing room while you’re feeling fatigued and prevents you from being under extra pressure to catch up, which will only benefit you over the long run.

5. Abandon perfection

When it comes to managing projects, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the end goal. But, while sticking to a perfect ideal of project outcomes sounds great in theory, in reality, it can be a practical and emotional nightmare.

That’s not to say perfectionism doesn’t come with its benefits but, when it comes to managing multiple projects, it can also result in a number of negative side effects.

Research has shown that being a perfectionist increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and feelings of burnout, for example. This isn’t great at the best of times but, if you’re already experiencing fatigue, it could end up being potentially disastrous.

Therefore, if this sounds like your current situation, you may wish to follow in the footsteps of Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg by embracing the “done is better than perfect” mindset. This will not only free you from the paralysis of perfectionism but could also prevent it from exacerbating your existing burnout.

Final thoughts

Project management fatigue is no joke. It has wide-ranging effects on your physical and mental health and can even lead to legal complications. And, while the best way to tackle burnout is to prevent it, there are several things you can do if you’re already struggling.

By writing down quantified, prioritized goals and changing your approach to perfection and rest, can make a massive difference to how you navigate the difficulties associated with project management fatigue.

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