Yesterday was on fire.
I was hot. Literally.
And it wasn’t just because it was summer.
It was because of the extreme stress mounting up on my nerves.
Scaling a start-up to grow is an extremely tough and stressful job. I am once more, taking on the role of manager because I find there to be a void existing that couldn’t or wouldn’t be filled by the managers I have appointed in the team.
I wrote about not wanting to kill my charisma in the team – and I realized I was trying to shy away from the managerial role because of that.
I value my charisma highly – because it lands sales, creates connections, helps me do awesome marketing, fuels my writing voice, etc.
BUT it kills my desire for management.
I can’t afford that any longer.
Management Over Charisma
I’ve reached the point where management is greater than charisma in the internal team.
As one of my mentors told me (and I’m beginning to truly realize this), “Not everyone in your team will like you.”
I guess it’s either this is a void only I can fill or the mangers I’ve put in place are ineffective or they simply wouldn’t take on the mantle to do this.
In any case, I am beginning to get a good grasp of management – after years of study and going under mentorship.
But that’s not why I’m writing this entry.
I’m writing this because yesterday was a day when my body screamed “STOP!”
I knew I was in the brink of burning out.
My own legwork was left undone, SEO Hacker had not published an article for more than 10 days, there were tons of email left unread, the SEO Summit 2014 is already just a month away, I have to draft and design a special proposal for a big prospective client, and so on and so forth.
And I was NOT DOING ALL THESE THINGS!
Because it was Monday. Because I had tons of meetings and errands to do.
Mondays are for management, leadership, vision casting, town hall meetings, announcements, team devotion, etc.
In short, Mondays are NO LEGWORK days for me.
And I was so pressured to finish legwork and to reply my emails.
After all, I’m still an urgency junkie.
I read this entry from The Next Web about “How to bounce back from burning out.” It’s a very interesting entry.
A few days back, I read “How to Scale Yourself and Get More Done Than You Thought Possible.” from Zapier. It made a lot of sense to me.
And now looking back, I realize burning out can be prevented.
And the answer is stupendously simple – time and task management.
The Defining Standard
The standard hours of a person is 24 hours – no more, no less. You will not have a second more that I don’t have. We are all equal when it comes to time.
The difference lies in how we use it.
At the SEO Hacker office, people used to have unlimited free time. They could take a break whenever they want, make noise whenever they want, go to lunch and come back whenever they want – there is no accountability with time, when they’ll be back on their desk, whatsoever.
Working time is being used up for other things.
Maybe because all of us are in our 20’s and we love to mingle and talk and laugh.
So what my team will do is to catch up – going overtime in the office or working at home.
Instead of working hours being working hours, it becomes fun hours. And when everyone has left and gone home, those who have work to finish will stay and start to do real work.
Of course, this is not true for everyone but it has been a prevalent culture with my team.
Accountability for Efficiency
We implemented time management through accountability.
People should start signing in and out from Skype when they come in the office and when they’re going home. People are also tasked to log in and out at lunch and at their agreed-upon 15 minute break.
In all this, there’s also Hubstaff – which the team uses to keep ourselves in check in what we’re doing.
Time is managed more effectively.
Of course, this did not come without any resistance. I was already expecting myself to be frowned upon with these changes. However, the numbers speak clearly.
Things weren’t going well when accountability was shrugged off. This is the new approach we’re testing. So far, Hubstaff and Skype (tools which are usually used for remote teams) are proving to be worth their salt.
The best thing that can come out of all these changes is not really the output – it’s the discipline. The real problem is: our A players are burning their assess off because they unconsciously waste time bonding with others in our team.
Then at the end of the day, they’ll stress themselves out catching up with their quota and other creative work requirements.
It’s simply a recipe for burn out.
Another thing that needs to be checked to prevent burnout is task management.
Tasks should be segregated. I think an hour a day to do this will make a person at least 50% more efficient.
Knowing which tasks you NEED to do and do NOW should be on top of the list. List it down on a piece of paper you would always see and get back to at your desk.
Then list other tasks that are less urgent and less important in decreasing order. It’s amazing what this can do to save time – and thus, save you the stress.
Task management is still not practiced in our team although I highly encourage it. We haven’t had a town hall talk about this yet. Perhaps it should be scheduled next week.
In any case, I think burnout in a small start-up like ours should be actively prevented.
People with good time and task management skills in your team will turn out to be your best, most consistent players.
Say goodbye to burnout.