Marketing Burnout: How to Deal With It

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Marketing burnout is a real thing. A recent Forbes article mentioned that the marketing industry experiences the highest burnout rate, with 83.3% marketers reporting they experience burnout in BOTH their professional life and their personal life.

6 Tips to Conquer Your Marketing Wo...
6 Tips to Conquer Your Marketing Workload | Martech Zone

And if you’re a small business owner doing your own marketing that goes double for YOU!

I don’t normally write about mental health issues, but if you’re freaked out and overwhelmed by marketing, this article is for you.

What are the Signs of Marketing Burnout?

Thrive Global has a list of the most common symptoms of burnout:

  • Feeling tired and exhausted
  • Pessimism about results
  • Feeling useless and uncreative
  • Unmotivated
  • Job frustration
  • Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Constant complaining
  • Reduced performance at work
  • Trouble focusing and concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Low-grade headache
  • Digestive problems

A lot of this comes from your basic work life balance issues paired with chronic workplace stress. In other words, the stress never stops.

The bottom line is that if you’re experiencing burnout, your marketing is suffering.

A Few Causes of Marketing Overwhelm

Marketing has always been a high-stress and overwhelming career. And, when you add the always-on connections as digital marketers driven by working from home, you can see how all of these contribute as a root-cause of digital marketing burnout.

Sleep habits

Digital marketers are notoriously connected to their business. Constant checking on your stats or staying on top of social media posts and multiple social media accounts creates sleep disruption.

Be sure to set a solid work schedule and add a hard stop to your day. Step away from the keyboard at least 2 hours before bed time.

Phone calls

The phone is a vampire! Leave it on and phone calls can come in at anytime.

Put your phone on silent and if you can, leave it away from your bed whenever possible. Personally, I put my phone into sleep mode where all calls and messages are silenced between 8pm and 7am.

Time management

You start with one set of daily tasks, only to have them pre-empted by a client with an urgent task that requires your attention.

Avoid burnout by becoming a rigorous scheduler. Your calendar is your friend. Lots of experts recommend scheduling tasks as well as meetings.

Most calendars come with apps and tools to help you control your time.

Block off times or days to limit meetings. Also make sure that you give yourself PLENTY of buffer time between meetings and activities. For example, no meetings on Fridays and ensure that you have at least 15-30 minutes between meetings. After all — you need a bio break!

Remote work

Marketers have always been more flexible about where they worked. But remote work has forced digital marketers into an always-on role.

Make preventing burnout a priority.

Decide on whether you need to have a dedicated workspace or if you’re happier rotating your workspace. Pick what reduces the most stress and stick to it.

Unmanageable workload

Related to remote work, marketing responsibilities have expanded as a support position for the whole company.

Create a workflow for marketing projects

One tip I’ve seen work effectively in avoiding burnout by the marketing department is to create a workflow or submission process for your team to submit requests to the marketing department.

You have to set boundaries! Make sure to let everyone know that most requests will require 2 days to complete. This will discourage last minute “fires” thrown your way that will not only hijack your day, but take your eye off of your priorities.

Lack of focus

This is a BIG one. Marketers are super creative and always looking for answers. But multiple projects and strategies dilute their efforts.

Focus on ONE Marketing Strategy

I can’t say enough about putting your focus on choosing a marketing strategy. Whether you choose content marketing, direct marketing or paid advertising — it doesn’t matter. Just choose.

This will immediately eliminate 80% of the tasks that are nothing more than flights of fancy.

Lack of resources

This is a big one! The best marketers embrace limitations, but, too often, marketing budgets are the first to be cut — including software and tools that can automate many functions and reduce stress while increasing quality.

Burnout is often caused by an out of control to do list. The good news is that there are plenty of automation tools that can eliminate those extra hours — sometimes an entire day of tasks.

How to Take Care of Your Mental and Physical Health

I’ve already provided some small tips to help you remove some of those pesky details and tasks that eat up your working hours. But there’s so much more that you can do to take care of your mental and physical health as a marketer.

Create a realistic job description.

marketing burnout

Creating a specific job description to prevent burnout is your first step. Here’s what to do.

  • Make a list of every single task that you do and how long it takes.
  • Review that task list and identify the tasks that ONLY you can do.
  • Then go through the list and identify any repeatable tasks that can be automated.
  • Look at the tasks that are left and see how critical they are to the successful implementation of your marketing strategy. IF they are critical, see if you can outsource them. If they are not — they have to go.

Focus on self-care

Don’t take your mental health lightly. If you were sick, you might spend the day in bed. But if you are feeling bad, for whatever reason; lack of sleep, poor eating habits, overwhelm, etc. Then you need to take a mental health day.

Take the day, do something that you love to do that relaxes you. Take a walk, take a nap, spend the day with friends. Do whatever reduces stress.

Make healthy eating a priority

To stay healthy, you have to eat healthy. It’s tempting to distract yourself with snacking. It’s one of my favorite ways to make sure I’m distracting myself with healthy food is to choose and prep snackable fruits and vegetables that I can grab when I’m feeling like I need a boost.

Remember — You Choose

Granted, you didn’t choose a global pandemic, but you know that saying; you don’t choose your circumstances, you choose how you react.

Take the flip side of any overwhelming situation and see it as something that’s happened FOR you, rather than TO you.

Something shifts when you remind yourself that you CHOOSE. You choose your career, you choose how you react, you choose it all. If you don’t like the consequences, you can CHOOSE something else.

That doesn’t mean that the consequences of your choices are always positive, but they will be consequences you CHOSE, rather than having them thrown at you.

Create a Motivation Plan

Have you noticed how often we view motivation as if it’s a happy accident? Having a motivation plan or schedule can actually shift your thinking and drive success.

Here are a few ideas that you can use in your motivation plan. They key is to make a list (maybe a spreadsheet) of content that lights you up that you can reference whenever you feel burnout.

  • Create a YouTube playlist that includes inspirational and motivational content.
  • Watch a TED Talk.
  • Chat with a friend — it doesn’t have to be just by phone or in person, but you can have a friend list on Slack or Skype of folks that you can reach out to.
  • Unplug and stay away from social media
  • Color, draw or paint
  • Play an instrument

Watch Out for Employee Burnout or Team Burnout

If you’re part of a team or you’re the head of a team, remember that you might be the cause of employee burnout. Here are some employee burnout prevention tips for you:

If you’re burned out, it’s only normal for some of that stress to rub off on your employees. Remember, they want to do good work and they want to see your organization succeed.

Don’t take these things personally — instead:

  • Reach out to your team and tell them you’re committed to reducing burnout.
  • Ask if your team is clear about priorities. You can ask them what they see as priorities and why.
  • Ask them if they have ideas for eliminating burnout.

Give Everyone a Break — Including Yourself

Finally, give yourself and your team a break. Maybe you want to start with a clean slate and take a fresh look at everything you and your colleagues are dealing with.

Do a reset for everyone and commit to confronting burnout when and where you see it.

Burnout is a naturally part of a marketing career, just don’t let it take over.

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