How to cope with QA Fatigue

It is nearly the end of another year, and I am again asking the question “where have the past 12 months gone?”  It seems that the older that I get, the faster the years are passing. Like most people, I am feeling the cumulative effects of the COVID debacle, pandemic restrictions, and the years’ workload – all rolled into one! With all that has been going on this year, I thought it timely to update and republish this post on coping with QA fatigue.

What is QA Fatigue?  

QA fatigue is when QA managers are feeling not just only tired – but inarguably exhausted.  From a QA perspective, it is often the case that you may be solely responsible for:

  • Documenting, implementing and reviewing the HACCP food safety system
  • Running training sessions for food handlers
  • Coordinating the external and internal audit process
  • Verifying HACCP records
  • Closing out corrective actions
  • Reviewing supplier performance
  • Arranging product testing
  • Developing new products
  • Liaising with significant customer QA departments
  • Managing business relationships, and generally,
  • Making sure that the food business you work for meets all its regulatory requirements

Signs of QA fatigue

You may be suffering from QA fatigue if you are:

  • Grumpier – you may ‘snap’ at your colleagues and family members more readily
  • Distracted – you may find it hard to focus and achieve a set outcome
  • Overwhelmed – you may feel teary or react emotionally to comments or situations that you would easily cope with usually

Five tips for avoiding QA fatigue

Different people deal with fatigue in different ways. There are a few different strategies that I have implemented over the past few years that have helped with my end-of-year QA fatigue. 

Be organised

Having a clear plan, and a clean desk helps keep me focused.  Knowing what I am going to achieve for a given day or week allows me to see an endpoint.  This includes shopping for Christmas presents and preparing for the holiday season.

Say NO

Say ‘no’ to projects that are going to add massive workload and stress to your plate at this time of the year.  If you can comfortably manage the extra work on top of your daily work – great – but if not, be realistic with your available time.  I learnt a few years ago not to undertake audits in December. The audit outcome resulted in me having to drive 2-hours each way every week for the next six weeks. 

Celebrate the achievements of the year

Take half an hour out of your day to write down everything that you have achieved in the past 12 months.  This activity alone can make you feel more positive and reduce your QA fatigue.

Have a technology ban

If you usually check emails, take calls or deal with issues outside of your work-hours put a 48-hour prohibition on yourself. 

Take a break

For some people, all that is needed is a break away from your work-place, a time to rejuvenate.  It could be as little as 2 hours a day or an extended holiday.  In Australia, it is summer over December, January and February.  I enjoy heading down to the beach for a few hours each day so that I can swim in the surf and lay around in the sun.

One last thought

If you are feeling more than just the ‘general’ QA fatigue, please consult your doctor.  How are you feeling? Do you suffer from end-of-year QA fatigue? Share your coping strategies by leaving a comment below this post.

4 thoughts on “How to cope with QA Fatigue”

  1. As a Qc Manager, the stress of getting things done with production staff coupled with solving quality issues whenever it arises gives much fatigue to me. Trying to ensure that my products meets regulatory requirement and passing local regulatory inspection is a big stress that comes with fatigue.

    1. Amanda Evans-Lara

      Thanks for sharing your experience with the HACCP community Wale. I hope you can take time over the Christmas break to rest and recharge.

  2. Useful to have the fatigue recognised. The list you provide is a sad reflection of how businesses have still not evolved to encompass these activities within other roles. Missing from the list is the relentless expectation of failure that certification bodies and customers put on businesses, the massive disruption that the pandemic illness is putting on teams and the increased risk of fraud and adulteration of raw materials adding to the necessary scrutiny of the supply base. Then, we have the impact of climate change on everything that if it’s not started to be felt certainly will be in the coming years. This all adds up to less technical people willing to stay in the high stress work environment and so the pressure continues on those remaining. Ultimately, it is up to each and everyone of us to take responsibility for ourselves and set the boundaries in which we want to work; the thoroughness of our technical focus needs to be applied to ourselves AND to accept that that is THE most important work activity we will ever make.

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