2 min read

Trying Hard Not To Burn Out

It has been a hectic few weeks at work. I thought I’d been handling it very well, but today, I felt like I was not. Another bout of burnout looks to be on the horizon.
Trying Hard Not To Burn Out
Photo by Anne Nygård / Unsplash

I’ve had my fair share of burnouts. They are traumatic but temporary. They make me want to walk backwards to the office; these days, it’s my study. Literally needing to avoid a room in your two-bed apartment is not to be taken lightly.

But the main topic here is not the burnout itself. It’s the illusion of doing well under pressure, just to become a victim of the burnout’s sneak attack.

I have had to balance a few projects at the same time lately, which requires a lot of context-switching during the day. In the last few days, I found myself constantly switching contexts every half hour. It’s incredibly taxing to do so, but you get better at doing it. The switching becomes efficient, but the cost of doing so won’t go down.

Here’s an example:

  • While trying to get the requirements ready for a new project, all of a sudden, I needed to change some data pipelines of an extract we were giving to the third party because they responded to our queries that day.
  • I jumped into it and arranged the schedules, and half an hour later, in another project, the admin team completed the request we urgently sent that day.
  • I immediately needed to validate if they had done it correctly so we could give fast feedback to them and get it corrected.
  • I returned to the requirements and realised there was another document I had to revise, but I didn’t have it, so I requested it.
  • Then, one of my colleagues wanted me to explain a PR I raised and had a few questions. I jumped into a quick call and got it sorted.
  • Now that the code is merged, I must deploy it. So, I kicked off the CI/CD pipeline and monitored the status as it required handholding.

All of this happens in a single day. And it doesn’t matter how good you become or which tools and methods you use for productivity (I use GTD, by the way). The mental cost stays the same.

It drains you, making you feel your energy levels actively go down. You dunk a few coffees down, so you’re alert. But your shoulders hurt, your head becomes dizzy from thinking too fast, your neck is rock solid, your eyes dry, and a headache settles in.

Keep doing this for a few more days, and you’ll burn out. No doubt.

You could be the best juggler in the circus, but you’re still human. And the human mind gets as much tired as the body.

I need a day or two off after this bout finishes this week. And I’ll ensure I won’t have three or four projects converge on the same time frames again.