November 30, 2020

Recognising Burnout


I took last week off; something that was well overdue.

I think with everything that has gone on this year, we have become accustomed to telling ourselves to just "push through" because everyone is going through it to some extent. The reality is that this kind of thinking just leads to burn out.

I was burnt out and I probably still am to a lesser extent.

In my week off, I had some time to reflect on what brought me to this point because I think its important to recognise and possibly reduce the prolonged impact of burn out in the future.

For me, it was obvious that I was burning out due to the following things:

  • The fun in producing content or working on side projects was gone - my last blog post was in August and while I've worked on some very interesting things since, the joy in sharing information about them was gone. This was probably the first sign that something wasn't quite right.
  • Reduced sleep quality and duration - I am typically a night owl so staying up late isn't difficult but I would often find myself avoiding sleep just to do meaningless things like watch streams or movies. Even when I went to bed, I would have some difficulty getting to sleep, something that escalated the further I delayed taking time off.
  • Work became a chore - this was the last domino to fall. I work for a truly amazing company, everyone looks out for each other and I have no problem getting out of bed to come see this group of people day-in-day-out; but when it came to actually doing the work, it was rather difficult. Even understanding relatively simple concepts was a lot harder than they should be so it came time to take a break.

I think its important for people to recognise burn out in themselves because being able to know the signs early allows you to react sooner leading to greater happiness and productivity over the long run.

Prevention is always better than a cure.

As for me, the first day back feels like a complete 180 from how I felt 2 weeks ago, it will be interesting to see how long it lasts or whether I start falling into the same patterns as before. Being able to recognise my own flavour of burn out will be extremely useful when it comes to making changes going forward, for now I'm going to focus on restarting daily meditation, producing more content and focusing on my sleeping patterns.

I'm hoping the rest falls into place as a result.

I'm under no illusion that a single week off was enough, I am hoping that it was enough to help me make necessary changes now and recognise burn out sooner in the future.

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