Monday, September 10, 2007


I used to think burnout was just another word for lazy.

It's not.

Burnout affects people in different ways, and is often misdiagnosed. It's basically a feeling of discomfort that won't go away. People think they need to get more sleep, drink more caffeine, relax all weekend, or worse; take pills.

It seems to affect people who enjoy their jobs, because people who don't enjoy their jobs remember to take vacations, and are less likely to work long hours, and to work at home when "off the clock".

As with most personal problems, it's very difficult for someone to realize they have the problem. Hard workers are more likely to attribute their apparent lethargy to personal failings. Tasks or projects that used to be effortless now take effort and time to complete. Work gets pushed to the side in favor of semi-work-related diversions that you can rationalize (to yourself) are still work and accomplishments. Your work level may still stay the same, but your expended effort and personal discomfort steadily increase.

I didn't realize I was burned out until I was getting excited about a new personal technical project that involved learning new technologies and tough challenges. When I thought of it, I was pretty excited about the prospect, and did some searching around to find out what my first step was. Normally I'd be all over something like this, but weeks later I'm still excited about the project, but just can't bring myself to do even some light research on my starting point. I was chatting with a friend about my problem, and he said it was burnout. Right when he said that, I knew it was the case, and was surprised I couldn't see what was so obvious now.

For months now, I've been pining for some nature. Looking up backpacking and camping information, but never getting to the planning phase. I was dragging my feet, and didn't know why.

Well, not anymore! I'm going to set some goals for relaxation that keep me clear of computers physically, and mentally. I'm going to pick a week and just detach. I'm going to go read a book under a tree, and when I get tired, I'm going to sleep.

I feel better already.


blogagog said...

Wow dude. You're lazy.

defiant_infidel said...

Sounds like a great time to plan a hike, Sir. Nothing like a good jaunt out into nowhere with the only sounds being those of the things around we usually don't notice. It's good for the soul and the body (if you're not too lazy...). Heh...