Blog post,  Communications professional

At risk of burnout? When and how to ask for help

As communications professionals, our jobs involve a lot of high-pressure situations, tight deadlines, and constant pressure to deliver results. But that’s what makes it so exhilarating and rewarding. Comms people are known for going above and beyond. We find it hard to let go of work because we love what we do, and we can do it all – right? 


We can’t do it all. Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes that project is just too big and you don’t have the time or resources to get it done. Or sometimes life gets in the way. No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. I wrote that twice because life really does get in the way sometimes. 

I say that because it is currently 3am and I am writing this blog in the notes of my phone. I am sitting in my daughter’s room holding her to sleep for the 4th night in a row, contemplating how I will manage another day of work running on minimal sleep with a sick, sad and clingy toddler at home that just wants her mum. 

I know that if I keep trying to do it all, I’ll be on a one-way train to burnout-sville. 

Not sure what burnout feels like? Well, some of the warning signs (according to Dr. Google) include feeling exhausted, irritable, and overwhelmed, having trouble sleeping, and experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach problems. The best thing you can do to avoid it – and your project falling over – is ask for help.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. It takes courage to admit that you can’t do everything at work on your own and to reach out to others for support. However, it’s important to be specific about what you need: Do you need someone to take on some of your workload? Do you need someone to bounce ideas off? Or someone to have a work therapy session with. Be specific about your needs so that others can provide the support you require.

So, here’s what you can do: 

  • Plan plan plan: You’ve heard us say this many times – at Elm, we love a good plan! If you have a project coming your way, it’s a good idea to have a detailed delivery plan in place to ensure you have the resources and time to deliver it. Have BAU work too? Run a team planner (Monday, Trello, Microsoft Planner to name a few). That way if there’s a work crisis that needs your attention or that big thing I mentioned before gets in the way – you know, life – you can revisit your work and form a plan of action. 
  • Redirect resources: Chat to your supervisor, colleagues, or staff about your work priorities. This will help them understand what’s most important and where they can best support you. (Bonus point: If you are honest about why you need to redirect resources, your boss might even show up on your doorstep with a delicious home-cooked meal. True story – can Melanie honestly get any better?)  
  • Revisit delivery timeframes with your client: Your client isn’t just a client. They are people, too. Speaking from experience working with our wonderful clients, chances are they will understand if you need to deviate from delivery timeframes because your child is sick or a loved one has passed away. 
  • Seek external support: If you don’t have the resources and time is of the essence you can seek the help of a consultant. Having a consultant onboard means you can still deliver your project while managing your other priorities. It means you can spend more time mentoring your staff or splitting your time between the office and home if needed. But be sure to choose someone with experience, check references, and consider personality fit. 

While it’s important to ask for help when you need it, it’s also crucial to take care of yourself. Get enough rest and engage in activities that you enjoy (other than comms work of course) to help you relax and recharge. 

We comms people may be super-human, but we just can’t do it all. 

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