March 27, 2023

How to Stop Burnout Before it Starts (Challenge #60)

How to Stop Burnout Before it Starts (Challenge #60)
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As you're about to hear, I’ve got a lot going on, which my YOLO side always loves, but only up to a certain point. In the past, seasons like this have brought on overwork, or even outright burnout. I plan to use the three core skills of kind leadership to manage my stress over the next couple months, and stay balanced even when things are a little crazy. Keep listening to pick up some tips for your next busy season.
Resources Mentioned in this episode:
Kind Leadership Comes Back Around: A Pop Culture Parable (Challenge #58)

Related Episodes:
How to Cure Your End-of-Year Burnout (Kind Leadership Challenge 16)
In Praise of "Quiet Quitting" (Challenge #36)
How To (Finally!) Tackle Your To-Do List (Challenge #51)
What if there's still too much to do? (Challenge #52)

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This episode was produced byPodcast Boutique.


It feels a bit like my life has gone from Zero to sixty the last few weeks! Even aside from the rhythms of the school year and fiscal year building to their respective climaxes, and nurturing a growing audience for all things kind leadership, I’ve had a lot of stuff going on. To kick things off, I was selected to be on my first accreditation peer review team, and will be traveling to that university for a site visit in early April. Second, the same week I learned I was going to be on a peer review team, I was tapped to serve on the steering committee for my own university’s accreditation, which is coming up in about two years. The weekend after I return from the site visit, I’m heading down the shore to go represent my OTHER podcast at a Micky Dolenz concert—see episode 58 for more details on that whole side of my life. Oh, and in about 6 weeks from when you’re listening to this, my husband and I will be closing on a new house.  

So yeah, I’ve got a lot going on, which my YOLO side always loves, but only up to a certain point. In the past, seasons like this have brought on overwork, or even outright burnout. I plan to use the three core skills of kind leadership to manage my stress over the next couple months, and stay balanced even when things are a little crazy. Keep listening to pick up some tips for your next busy season. 


Welcome to the Kind Leadership Challenge, the podcast that empowers principled leaders to heal their organizations in ten minutes! I’m Dr. Sarah Clark, founder of the Kind Leadership Guild, where I use my PhD in Higher ed leadership and nearly 2 decades of experience in academic libraries to coach leaders like you who want to build a better world without burning out. 

Kind Leaders aren’t perfect, and we don’t need to be. We strive to make tough decisions without becoming jerks. We design systems that enable our teams to make a big impact without overworking. And we know that once we stop controlling and start collaborating, even the most ambitious vision can become effortless. Kind Leadership is pretty simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. So if you’re up for a challenge, stick around as I teach you how your school or library can create a resilient, thriving legacy that will strengthen your community long after you’re gone.


As a reminder, Kind leaders use three core skills to heal our organizations so that we can build a better world for themselves and the people we serve: Growing humanely, managing effectively, and creating collaboratively. I’m going to walk you through how I intend to practice those three skills so that, in about 3 months from now, work is flowing, the podcast is growing, and we’re settled comfortably into our new home with a marriage that’s as strong as ever. I hope to even have a proper podcast studio set up with lighting and whatnot, but that’s more of a stretch goal. 

So the first skill of kind leadership, growing humanely, is all about staying in touch with yourself and your values so that you can make decisions that will get you closer to the better world you wish to see. I am painfully aware that my emotions can leave me feeling anxious and uncertain, which leads me to wall myself off from people, bottle up my feelings, and spend way too many late nights staring at the ceiling stressing out. So my plan for growing humanely is to focus on two things: watching my emotions and protecting my sleep. 

You’ll notice I said watching my emotions, not “stuffing my emotions into a big black box and throwing away the key.” I’ve tried that. Doesn’t work. So, I’m going to try to pay attention to and draw out my emotions regularly, using tricks that work for me like journalling, meditation, and even tapping. By feeling those feelings when they arise, I hope that not only can I process them and move on quickly, but also they may provide me with useful data that will help me keep moving forward at a sustainable pace. And speaking of a sustainable pace, I have to be in bed for at least seven and a half hours a night, plus the occasional nap, or I am not going to be able to function. I’ve tweaked my planned workout routine for the next couple months so I can get up a little later in the morning, and am looking for other ways to save some time and make evenings more relaxing. Between those two steps, I hope to be in a good headspace to make the hundreds of decisions, some involving short timeframes and large sums of money, that will be heading my way in the next few months.

Skill 2 of Kind Leadership is managing effectively, where you use your resources and analytical skills to create systems that allow you to get more output from less effort. This is going to come down to one thing, especially where the move is concerned. DELEGATION.

We’ve been saving for this transition for a few years, so even beyond the downpayment we’re privileged enough to be able to hire out some of the stuff that will need to happen for the move. We’ll be getting someone to help us with not only moving, but packing most of our possessions. A cleaning service is going to do our move-out clean, and if needed spruce up our new place before our stuff arrives. We’re using a handyman service to take care of a few minor repairs on our new house as well. Rather than trying to become real estate experts ourselves, we found a great realtor and mortgage agent, both of whom have been very helpful and patient with our MANY questions. Delegating everything we can conceivably delegate is a little expensive and a little unnerving, but it will likely make this whole process go smoother. And to a lesser degree I plan to do the same thing at work, depending how hairy things get.

Finally, we’ve got the third skill of kind leadership, creating collaboratively, where we work together with our team and stakeholders to bring our shared vision into reality. For this project, my key stakeholder and team partner is my husband Kevin. We’ve been a couple for the majority of both our lives at this point, and know each other pretty much as well as anyone can know another human. This is not and never will be a marriage counseling podcast, so I’m not going to get into much detail here. However, broadly speaking, Kevin is great at helping me from getting too overambitious or stressed, and I in return try to support and empower him through times of big change. Fortunately, we’ve got a lot of experience in weathering tough times while honoring our different skills and outlook. If we pace ourselves, I think we can tackle this season too.

Here’s your challenge this week: When is a time in your work life when you are at greater risk of burnout? I know those of you whose work is directly or indirectly impacted by the school year may be entering one of those crunch times now. So take a moment and brainstorm One Thing you can do—or better yet not do—to grow humanely, manage effectively, and create collaboratively when things are hectic. 


Thanks as always for listening to the kind leadership challenge. Before you go, here’s a quick way you can spread the word of kind leadership. I’d like you to take a moment to think of a friend or colleague who might benefit from this week’s episode. Then, open your app or head over to and share this episode with them. Never doubt that day by day, you’re building a better world, even if you can't see it yet. So until next time, stay kind now.  

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