Tag Archives | burnout

You will not end your life wanting more time on the computer.

Image of guy sleeping at computer

I have been in a slump as of late.

I have been busy and working (thank goodness in light of economic uncertainties). However, I have not taken time off in what is approaching a year. Feeling the burnout? Mmm… yeah maybe a touch. I have been here in this space before—to pre-burnout, then burnout and back that is—a few times. Sometimes I drive myself mad with the incessant desire to keep going, do a little bit more, forgo taking care of myself, and for what? Some imaginary idyllic computing nirvana where all my random downloads are in the trash, my email in-box is empty, and there is not an errant file sitting on my desktop? Did I just hear someone say “pipe dream?”

This ‘nirvana’ may be possible. But to think turning into ‘Jabba the Hut’ eating crap food and sitting in front of the keyboard for endless hours trying to achieve it? For what? I’m the only person that sees what is on my desktop. What kind of satisfaction do I think, that by doing this, it will somehow massage my pineal gland and make me feel complete? I enjoy working on the computer, but at what cost?

Sir? “Put down the mouse and step away from the computer.”

In this era of information overload, rss feeds, social media, email, it is easy to get sucked in if your job is to sit in front of a computer doing any type of job. What is worse is if you have a propensity to be a work-a-holic (ahem), and your career as a digital gun-for-hire also happens to be your hobby as well.

I’ve been reminded of late that at the end of my life I will not want more time on the computer. I will not think about how “I wish I had cleaned my desktop of all those files…” Or will I think “Gee, if I only got that email inbox to zero…” I will think of the people that mean the most to me, of the places I have travelled to and the things that I have seen. I highly doubt I will think of a YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr (unless its pictures of my kids 🙂

So this is a little “note to self” posted on the Interwebz…

Put down the mouse, turn off the monitor, get up, go outside, and do something with other people. Do something other than compute.

OK, that was a bit theraputic. Now back to my email…

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Intellect Versus Intuition, or “The Thinkaholic”

Yoda it is.

I find that I use my head way to much. What I mean is I use straight thinking, logic, and rationale as a way of navigating many things that are presented in life. The alternative to using straight up thinking/logic is to use your intuition. An example of using your intuition would be how you can do, or handle, somethings on autopilot. There is not much thinking or contemplation about such things. You have either mastered the process, or know something so well that you do not give it a second thought. Driving home while talking on a cell phone (while not always the smartest thing to do) and being able to make all the right turns, stop at all the right spots (stop signs, red lights) all the while talking to someone AND successfully get home would be a concrete example. It’s the things you don’t have to think about to get them done that I am talking about.

On the flip side I have been on the thinking side of things way too much as of late. Not that I don’t have intuition guiding me on many things, I do. I can brush my teeth while thinking of something else, do the dishes while thinking of something else. It’s just that I find a great deal of time and energy is wrapped up in ‘thinking’ about things. Most of these things involve business and career. Making decisions about what moves to make, what course of action (or inaction) will produce the desired result. This can get really tiring–I’m talking flat out exhausting. Similar to how a workaholic will get to burnout, I think (love the irony) that I have been exhibiting the tendencies of a thinkaholic and I am feeling burned out.

I need a vacation from thinking.

What about you? Have you ever felt you needed a vacation from thinking?

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Taking Breaks Big And Small

Mexico

Something I am not good at is taking a break from work. Any type of break–5 minutes or 5 days. On a daily basis I find myself sitting at the machine for 3 hours at a stretch without getting out of the chair. Obviously this is not good. I did get a pedometer over the holidays to see just how much movement I am getting during a typical work day. Right now I am averaging over 10,000 steps a day which is not bad for a mostly sedentary desk job. On a day-to-day basis I do need to take more breaks and get up and move around. I don’t think we as humans were designed to be seated for long periods of time. To help with that I recently setup a small mac-based application called FlexTime. It is a great app that will let me program periods of time and breaks, and it will put notices up in front of me to let me know to take a break or switch gears. Not only the physical change, but the mental change of focus and attention will help as well.

Other than the day-to-day breaks are the BIG breaks–vacations. We all need vacations to help rest and recharge. Problem is in this country (US) we tend toward the workaholic side of the spectrum and take very few breaks on a daily basis and take very little vacation time when compared to the rest of the industrialized world. Then again our GNP is the highest in the world so there is a positive side to it. However, I tend to work so hard for so long that I get burned out. I have been to burnout and back several times in my career and its no fun. To help keep this at bay I recently made a decision to take a vacation that sort of landed in my lap. A friend who is going to Mexico for 10 days asked me to come along–out of the blue.

Initially my reaction was. “Well, I do have so many projects going on right now I’m not sure I can spare the time.” I told this to someone I met at a party over the weekend and he looked at me and said, “You should go on the trip. Work will always be there, a chance to go to Mexico will not.” I thought to myself, he is absolutely right. It is the advice I would give to someone else if they were telling me the story. I would say figure out how to make it happen and I am making it happen. My new passport is on the way and I leave 2 weeks from this Friday. I have never been to Mexico and I have lived a couple hundred miles north of the border for almost 15 years. Its about time I take a visit. The work will be here when I get back.

When was the last time you took a vacation or a day off?

Yeah. Exactly–too long. Make it happen. Take the opportunity when it comes, or make the opportunity now.

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Disconnecting

Plugged In

I think that those of us who are plugged in to the Internet for most of our waking day are reaching a saturation point. Too much Internet, too much of the time.

I know many of us have felt the burden of going to burnout and back. However, I feel collectively we want to be unplugged more. The nature of our working lives requires us to be connected for communication, information, and news yet I know I for one could do without a bit of the Internet, for about an entire month.

I seem to remember an experiment from a while back where the situation involved some people in a house and the only way they could get stuff for the house, furniture, appliances, food, etc. was by using the Internet. I almost wonder what it would be like to not ‘connect’ to the Internet for, lets say, a month.

I have done a week without the Internet and cell phone. My family and I travel to the White Mountains of Arizona and stay at a dude ranch that is completely off the grid. Its not a spa-like retreat, so no hot tubs and massages, but it is wonderful being that detached and not being able to do anything about it. The deluge upon your return is no fun, but during that week it is nice until the night before its back to reality.

I wonder if this is just a pipe dream of mine. I would need to get work delegated and systems in place to make this happen so that my absence would almost not be felt.

It would be truly blissful.

I wonder, do you think this is feasible?

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April Showers…

Well it has been raining here–unseasonably late. But that is not the only reason I’ve been experiencing April showers.

I’m entering a work cycle at the moment. A cycle that I am all too familar with. It’s called burnout.

I can empathize with my friend Jon and his post about coming back to work following a restful vacation. The difference is I’m feeling it coming back from a weekend. I do enjoy the work I do–hell I’m self-employed. However, I’m going on a stretch of about 23 months without a vacation. At times I feel I am pushing the envelope of business sanity (haha).

Seriously though, I am in need of some down time that is significant and provides a complete cut-off from work and the ability of work finding me through electronic means (web, cell, etc.) I have a trip planned to Europe at the end of June, a trip to Arizona for mid July and a trip to New York in late August. So, I will be having time off and in at least 2 of the 3 trips I know that I will have the umbilical of work completely severed.

The mileposts are out there on the horizon. I can see them. They are fuzzy. They will, with some more hard work, come into sharper focus soon. Time to get back at it…

Now where is that passport application?

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