We all know the feeling. We are tired. We drag ourselves to work every day, just making do. You feel drained. Another guest is just more work. More mise en place. more reservations mean an endless session of Saturday night clean up. We lost the inspiration to move, complaining and ranting and saying to yourself 'why bother?'. This is burnout. A state of complete physical, mental and emotional exhaustion caused by long-term exposure to a demanding and overwhelming work or home life. Sufferers often become cynical about their work, feel under-achieved and lack motivation or drive. Sleep, appetite and mental health may be affected, as well as relationships with coworkers and guests.
We usually prevent this on the onset by doing what everybody else tells us...'Do what you love'. It is so cliche I can just gag. After deciding that the restaurant business is for you, the restaurant life is what you lead, I suggest take these few points to get you back on track.
Hold on to your dream - even if you don't feel like it. Even if everybody is against you. Even if no one shares that dream. Never give up. We are all bred to survive in this industry. And very few actually make something out of it. We love it. We love it when a guests smiles after a great dinner. We love it that we can create the perfect souffle. These and other things make it all worthwhile. Let nothing or no one come in between you and your dream.
Focus - Eliminate distractions. Live in the moment. This way it is less stress, becuase you are concentrating on one thing at a time. When a fourtop needs to be set, concentrate ongetting on flatware synced, perfect, in line, polished. In other words, impeccable. Which leads us to...
Accomplish tasks in increments - Do things one at a time. Yes, multi-tasking does have its merits in our industry, but when was the last time you made the perfect demi glace from scratch? Getting that perfect caramlization, that perfect consistency, that perfect aroma and taste along the way? Was it not a great journey when you first made it?
Immerse yourself - Surround yourself with the things that inspired you in the first place. Watch the movies that had you saying 'that's me'. Have a cup of coffee in the afternoon at one of the better restaurants. Bathe in the atmosphere of excellent service. Read up on cookbooks, food blogs. See how other people are doing. Reconnect with friends who are doing well running restaurants or managing hotels. Get rid of any form of negativity.
Get more sleep - Really. Our body needs an average of 8 hours sleep to recharge our batteries. A tall order for somebody who makes a living in the restaurant industry. But it takes a conscious effort to find the time to get some sleep. What keeps you up late at night hours after the last guest has bid good night and the last plate washed and dried? Tasks which should have been done during the day? Which lead us to...
Work smarter, not harder - Be efficient in everything you do. Minimum input. Maximum output. Have perfect physical and mental mise en place. Have a plan C. No rush, but most things are usually done just before dinner service. Everything else is just routine. Can be delegated, can be prioritized for the next day.
Get some 'me' time - If you have vacation days or sick days still on your account, take advantage of it. OR, just set aside 10 minutes out of the day to sit down, have a glass of burgundy, your favorite music on the iPod, and a quiet corner in the restaurant or at the nearby park. Zone out. Be in your own world for the moment.
Got more ideas on how to deal with burnout?