Burnout. Spending hours just staring into space when you’re supposed to be doing work, when you want to be doing work. Feeling foggy-headed and grey the whole time when you usually feel eager and excitable. Menial tasks are just about manageable, but anything requiring careful consideration or creative thinking feels impossible. I sleep but I still feel tired.
I’m burned out. The last couple of months have really taken their toll. I tend to always be on top of my work schedule, ensuring I don’t work late into the evenings or weekends on client work, as I know I need time away from the screen to spend on my social life and my health. However, due to some client work getting out of hand, over-optimism with scheduling, and a talk at Responsive Day Out (speaking is always exhausting), I got through the mad rush and just couldn’t do any more.
Adam Onishi has spoken extensively about burnout, and I know I’ve got it lucky. Burnout can be a bad side effect of really caring about your work, and I’ve always been aware that I’m inclined to over-work and so need to keep myself in check. I rarely lack motivation (though sometimes lack confidence), I love what I do. Burnout is not laziness, it’s illness.
Dragging myself out of it
After a week of feeling incredibly unhappy, I spent a weekend trying to escape work. But spending the weekend worrying about the amount I had to do once the weekend was over made it worse. The first step to dragging myself out of the burnout was acknowledging that it had become a problem, and realising that I would improve far quicker if I stopped trying to fight it and let myself rest.
A little bit at a time
I’ve found that working a little bit at a time is helping. I’m always very productive in the mornings, so I’ve been getting up early and getting on with work. When I feel the burnout dragging me down, I stop. I do something completely different, completely unrelated to work (walking the dog, playing computer games). These stints away from work seem to re-invigorate me, and after a couple of hours I can get back into working again. I can’t speak for how anyone else feels when they’re burnt out, but this seems to be making me more productive, and really helps my mood and motivation.
I’m also trying to harness the moments when I’m feeling sharp and focused. Right now I’m writing a blog post because it’s too late to do client work (I know it’d have an effect on a productive early morning tomorrow) but I’m still running off the adrenaline of a successful few hours work earlier in the evening.
Our minds are funny things
We forget how important our state of mind is to our overall health until it becomes a real problem. Recent events with those close to me, and Shannon Fisher and Liz Elcoate writing bravely about depression have inspired me to write this post. Let’s talk about these funny minds of us more.