One of the most difficult aspects of this industry, for me anyways, has always been about finding the balance between burnout and passion.
Don't get me wrong, I love my job. Since I started writing blogs for the USBG, though, it got me thinking that my struggle finding balance might be one for not just my own brain to marinate on, but one for all of you as well. It's also not just for the bar managers -- but one I found myself struggling with as a bartender as well. When you care about your job, you never truly "leave it at work" when you go home.
At my bar, we have weekly manager meetings where we give our energy scores. We rate on a scale of 1-10 the quality of our energy that day (are you feeling good? Ready to work? How psyched are you?), the quantity of your energy (Are you tired? Are you super awake? Life getting you down?), your burnout (1 being low, 10 being you're about to explode) and your workload (0 being none, 10 means you're drowning in work). For me, balancing my burnout is far and away the most difficult to keep a handle on.
So how to do we it? I know I am not presenting a new idea or struggle for us and our industry, but it's one we often don't give the attention it deserves. I have read many articles on how to manage your burnout, and I've also had the honor to hear many hardworking people in our industry talk on this subject [... W]e should take a look at our burnouts and figure out the best way to keep calm and carry on through [the rest of the year.]
Here are a few tips that work really well for me:
1. GET INTO THE NO PHONE ZONE
Yep. It's hard. Put that phone down. Unplug. STAY AWAY FROM IT. We are all so attached to our work emails, and carrying our smart phones around with us all the time can be daunting and tempting. We all work crazy hours, but tell yourself there is a time where you will stop. Use this time to go to the no phone zone. Facebook, work, and Candy Crush can wait until tomorrow. Chill out with your friends and family. They will be grateful for your undivided attention, and you will feel so much more at peace.
2. DON'T CHECK YOUR EMAIL BEFORE 12PM
This ties into checking out when you're not at work. For me, this is easy. I manage a late night bar, where the first management shift starts around 2:30pm. The few hours I have before service start are gold. I need this time to take care of myself. The credit for this little gem goes to Hollis Bulleit. At Camp Runamok this year, she was asked how she balanced work and personal life. She offered many good tips, but this one really resonated with me. Wake up, enjoy your morning. Don't let your work-to-do list ruin that cup of coffee or that early run. This brings me to...
3. DO YOUR BODY GOOD
Find an activity that you enjoy and, here's the tricky part, DO IT. I like yoga, as it helps clear my mind. I also like running because there is no excuse to not walk out your front door and run for 20 minutes. Find something and do it. Don't give yourself excuses. We don't give ourselves excuses to not work as hard as we do, so we should make sure we are not neglecting our body the same way. Even if you have to schedule it like a shift, DO IT!
4. HAVE A PASSION OUTSIDE YOUR WORK
It's totally fine, no, it's totally WONDERFUL if your passion is your job. You've won the jackpot! Regardless of your situation, I've found how important it is to have something to come home to. Something that is yours. This is how my bitters project got started. Have something that you're the boss of, that you determine the pace of, and you are solely responsible for. It doesn't need to be a full time job -- it can be something you spend maybe only 1 day a week focusing on. Whatever it is, own it and love it. When the world is getting you down, you've always got your passion. Is it a book? An instrument? Bitters? Flair? Making cocktails for your friends? Doesn't matter, but cultivate it. The happier you are with yourself, the happier your disposition and the better bartender you will be.
There are so many more ways to deal with burnout, and I would love to hear what you all have found that works best. We are all in this together, folks -- so let's help one another out. What do you do with your free time? Let's make the most of it and take care of ourselves and one another.
Flying Squirrel Bar
This article was originally published on usbg.org on December 9, 2015