Physically demanding tasks, excessive workloads, and long hours are typically associated with working in the Australian trades services industry. While many tradies are willing to take on these challenges to turn a profit, they can also lead to burnout.
Burnout is common in every career path, especially if an individual has been in the same industry for a long time. For many people, the daily stressors of the job tend to fizzle out when they unwind with friends and family over the weekend. However, burnout can persist, taking weeks or even months to recover from.
It’s therefore crucial to watch for early symptoms of burnout and proactively address them with the right habits and strategies.
Keep an eye out for the warning signs
Tradies experience burnout differently, but the most common form is physical exhaustion. In the early stages, you may have low energy levels and feel constantly drained after a long day. Later, the issues may get to the point where you have trouble sleeping and concentrating on tasks. Burnout even manifests as physical symptoms like shortness of breath, headaches, and immunity-related illnesses.
What’s worse is that burnout can take a toll on your mental health, too. Chronic fatigue can easily make you lose motivation to go to work, preventing you from working efficiently and keeping clients happy. This also makes you more irritable than usual. For example, being stuck in traffic as you drive between job sites while burnt out often ignites road rage. Meanwhile, overwork and tight schedules increase anxiety and stress levels, which may encourage negative coping mechanisms like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
If you experience any of these issues, you need to step back and seek assistance. Reflect on your burnout level and find healthy ways to reduce it before it negatively affects other parts of your life.
Take time off work and delegate tasks
When symptoms of burnout show up, a week or two where you don’t think about work will allow you to physically and mentally recharge. It does, however, take some planning since you can’t just leave your business on its own without notice.
Make sure to check your schedule for any periods where there are business lulls or low demands for your services. Then, plan your time off at least a month in advance and inform clients you’ll be on leave on specific dates.
If there are service requests during your planned time off, find subcontractors and seasonal workers in online listing websites like hipages and Seek to offload some of the burden. You should also delegate administrative and bookkeeping tasks to the right people or outsource these responsibilities when you’re away. Even if you’re not going on vacation, a supportive team will allow you to concentrate on tasks you enjoy.
Eat right and exercise regularly
Given the physical demands of your job, you need to eat nutrient-dense foods that will fuel you for the rest of the day. That means substituting Maccas runs and sugar-rich foods for home-cooked healthy meals and snacks. Try to load up on lean proteins like chicken and tuna, good carbohydrates like brown rice and fruit, and healthy fats like nuts and eggs. Snacking every couple of hours and drinking plenty of water will also reduce fatigue throughout the day.
As for exercise, it can really be any activity that you enjoy. Many tradies do supplementary strength and endurance training, which is a smart idea if you want to be more proficient at work. Stronger muscles help prevent injury and you’ll spend less energy carrying heavy loads, so you’re not completely depleted by the end of the day.
Protect your mental health
Stress and burnout are contributing factors to depression and having suicidal thoughts. In fact, according to charity organisation MATES in Construction, 190 Australian workers commit suicide every year.
To avoid becoming another statistic, you need to create a healthy balance between your work and personal life. This involves setting clear boundaries like disabling work-related emails and learning to decline jobs that don’t match your going rate.
Another useful tip is to reach out to others. This doesn’t necessarily mean seeking a qualified psychologist (although you definitely should if you’re experiencing severe depression from work). Simply sharing work issues with friends, loved ones, and colleagues can give you a huge sense of relief. It’s also a good opportunity to ask other tradies how they cope with their workload so you can adjust how you manage yours accordingly.
Create an effective schedule
Many cases of burnout often stem from chaotic schedules and tight deadlines, so it’s crucial to add structure to your workweek. Well-planned schedules break down jobs into steps, so you and your staff know exactly what you’re supposed to do next.
Your plans should cover important details about the job, including location, appointment time, and what equipment and protective gear is required. When planning, make sure to factor travel time between appointments so you can set appropriate ETAs and avoid road rage if you get stuck in traffic.
Job scheduling platforms simplify the planning process with operational dashboards, team tracking, and work order dispatching features. By using these platforms, you’ll feel more in control of your work life and reduce the likelihood of burnout.
Use job management software
If your burnout is a result of being unable to stay on top of work, job management software like WorkBuddy is the solution. Not only does it offer streamlined job scheduling and dispatch features, but it makes every aspect of a job easier, too.
WorkBuddy provides intuitive job quoting and invoicing features that work directly with your accounting software, so you can better manage your company’s cash flow. What’s more, it has built-in compliance, enabling you to create checklists that accurately follow Safe Work Method Statements. These checklists guide you on how to work efficiently while minimising the risk of injury and, by extension, physical and mental burnout.
Taking care of your well-being is a significant part of working as a tradie. If something isn’t right with your mental and physical health, your performance at work takes a huge hit. With WorkBuddy, you can address many of the root issues that induce job burnout. Request a demo today to see how we can support you and your tradies.