How to avoid expensive project management burnouts


Project management can be incredibly stressful. Project managers are responsible for delivery on time, budget, and scope. They must deal with limited resources, unrealistic expectations, and endless task lists.


With all the stress, it happens time and again that project managers fail to pull the emergency brake in time and inevitably slip into burnout. What follows is an uphill struggle to heal and get back to work, combined with high costs. Analyses show that the average burned-out employee costs his employer up to 35% of his/her annual salary.


When your top performing project managers start to burn out, there are typical signs. I am always on alert when I notice some of the following signs:

  • A sudden drop in performance
  • Poor mental function that leads to troubles remembering things, poor decisions and struggles with critical thinking-
  • Sudden missed deadlines
  • Playing catch-up instead of planning ahead
  • Exhaustion due to lack of sleep or poor health
  • Low motivation and lack of passion for work
  • Alienation in the form of strained relationships, irritability and increasing distance
  • 24/7 "on" and available

Tips on how project managers can avoid burnouts:

  • Prioritize your workload, don’t over plan your day, and leave time available for unplanned tasks
  • Understand requirements and expectations so you can plan ahead
  • Schedule time exploring and creative thinking
  • Learn to say “no”
  • Divide your work into smaller work packages to avoid feeling overwhelmed
  • Take lunch away from your desk, breath fresh air and reflect
  • Share your workload and delegate
  • Review and revise goals – it’s better to reassign a task than to miss a milestone
  • Talk to your boss and team – there is no shame in raising your concerns and asking for help

Keep your team and your business healthy by recognizing the early warning signs of burnout and addressing the problem early. Teach your project managers to take steps toward self-care. Encourage a culture of honest communication and one where it is not taboo to prioritize one’s health and personal life. You can also help your team relax by making sure their duties are streamlined as much as possible and that their work is covered while they’re out of office. If necessary, bring in professionals.


If you have any questions, please contact us.


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