Five Tips to Avoid Burnout in Business Development
Updated: Jul 1
When I started working on a business development team, a mentor of mine said "if you last more than two years, you're a special kind of crazy." She wasn't being mean or discouraging, she was just being honest about the intensity of this kind of work.
Being on a business development or proposal team is all about managing a constantly shifting set of priorities. It's constant deadlines and herding cats, and when the busy season strikes it doubles down in stress ball destruction (read more on that here).
Let's be honest - being in this type of work is hard.
For those of you that have chosen this high stress/high reward lifestyle, all of this makes it extremely hard not to burn out. Here are a few tips that can help.
Don't diss the self-care
I'm not sure about everyone else, but self-care can feel a little over. It means everything and nothing at the same time and for some reason it's spoken about as if a pedicure can make your whole life different. But don't be too quick to under-value the self-care. Taking time when you can to do things you love is important. Schedule it if you have to, but don't forget to have a life outside of your team.
Now that we're on the same page about self-care, don't think that you're just going to automatically deliver on that. Monitor your mental state as often as possible. When do you feel overworked? When do you feel stressed? What helps you cool down? What helps you relax? Keep a list if you need to, and take actions to prevent fatigue, disinterest, melancholy or other symptoms of burn out.
The evidence supporting mindfulness and meditation is staggering. Fortunately, you don't have to be some kind of zen guru to get the benefits. Within the work day, scheduling mini-breathers between stressful meetings can be a huge benefit. Just close your eyes for a minute, take a breath, and collect yourself. Building the habit is more important than how long you're taking a step back.
Take time out
It's not in every organization's culture to stop working at the end of the day. I get that. But you are the only person who cares as much about you as you do. Set whatever boundary you can. Decompressing at the end of the day should be part of your daily routine. Whether that's participating in a hobby after work, listening to a podcast on the way home, or reading for ten minutes before bed, take time at the end of the day to shut the door on your work.
Remember to celebrate
The best part about the cycle of business development is that you have so many opportunities to put a bit of joy into your work! Build in a celebration (even if it's just a personal party) with every submission and every win. It's easy to feel the pressure to just move on to the next thing, but the release of taking a moment to pat yourself on the back is unmatched.