Burn out, a feeling / a situation we all try to avoid. But unfortunately some of our methods of working might lead to this.
What’s burn out?
In simple words, it means you overwork, and then you are so exhausted that you don’t feel to work anymore. This can also be applied to studying, exercising or anything.
But it’s not short term. It’s not like you worked for 5 hours in a day that you are tired, stop your work, watch youtube or sleep and then you regain your energy.
But burn out is that you have overworked for so much for a long time (for months or years) that you are so tired and obsessed with the work that you need weeks, if not months to recover.
The cause of burn out - Working hell
It may seem very intuitive, to avoid burn out from overwork, stop overworking. But it’s not as straightforward as it seems.
I’ve gone through this situation 2 times, unfortunately. So this is something you can call a mistake, because I’ve repeated it, rather than to learn from my past.
You will come across motivation posts, videos saying about how you are not productive and how you are wasting your life by not building a million dollar business before the age of 20. Or a video where people are going to MIT, IIT and big universities by studying for 10+ hours a day.
So what you do? You get sudden regret that you are wasting your time and start grinding. You multi-task, work for 10+ hours a day, sleep less than 8 hours, avoid fun time with family and working towards your goals.
It will seem fun at first, because you are way more productive than earlier, and you are able to do a lot of things in less time. But as time goes on, you will slowly lose the motivation and get tired. But you still keep pushing yourself because of the fear; the fear of not getting as far as others.
This happened to me as well.
But my work time is only 1 month, lol. Randomly, I get sudden bursts of motivation to be insanely productive, then I listen to podcasts while taking a walk, then schedule almost 1 week of tweets and threads in one day, write blog, code, create illustrations, plan my youtube video schedule, draft a newsletter daily, etc. All this in a single day.
I will be consistent for about a month, and then, the productivity slowly declines, and comes to a dead end. Then, I would stop doing all this completely, for months! The last time I’ve been so productive is 3 months ago!
Twitter analytics on January 2022 (when I was most productive) vs on April 2022 (when I’m burnt out):
For 3 months, I’ve been insanely unproductive, scrolling through instagram all day, watching memes on youtube, and watching movies even though my exams are near, and not tweeting anything, haven’t written a single blog, nor did I do coding. All this because I’ve burnt out by working too much, more than of what I was capable, in long term.
Burn out as an excuse?
This might not be for everyone, but this was the case for me. I was burnt out, but I also quitted creating threads, illustrations and blogs because I wanted to study for my exams.
But this was just an excuse. I haven’t studied anything properly since I’ve quitted because I didn’t find it very interesting. But since I’ve quitted my productive work already, during free time, or instead of studying, I’ve started using instagram, youtube and other sources of immense procrastination.
Due to this, I’ve also lost interest in what I used to be interested and have overworked. Now whenever I find a youtube video about coding, I don’t feel as fun to watch it, and whenever I think of writing, I just not feel as much interested. So burn out + procrastination has spoilt my sources of interests. Which is quite scary if you think about the long term future and goals.
How to recover from burn out
To recover, you must start slowly, almost as if you are starting the work all from the beginning. You’ve procrastinated a lot already, and you find it much more fun to scroll through memes rather than to be productive.
So now if you go back to your original flow, which was to overwork, you will find it too overwhelming and stop before you even started.
So to avoid this and get into the flow, and get fun and love for the work, you much start slowly. You could start maybe with just 10 minutes of work per day. Now this might look so less, but just think, it’s better than not doing anything at all.
Don’t be scared because you are not as productive as before and you are not getting much done. It just takes time to recover from the overwork and stress you have done to yourself.
So once you sat down and started working, gradually increase your time. But don’t increase it too much very fast: 10 minutes today, 30 minutes tomorrow, 2 hours the day after.
When you sit down and actually work for 10 minutes, do you feel so much engaged that you don’t notice the time as it passed by? Then it’s a great news! For the next day, you could increase the time for maybe 30 minutes, or just analyze how much you worked today and increase the time based on that.
But if you feel like 10 minutes is too much and you keep on looking at the time when it will be over, then don’t worry, just continue for the same time (10 minutes) for a few more days until you feel you are getting into the flow.
So, if you overwork and push yourself too much, then you will be burnt out. So instead of insane bursts of productivity for a few months, then extreme procrastination the next month, it’s far better to work little by little and stay consistent - for a long time.
Learn to enjoy the journey, don’t stress yourself out, and keep giving yourself break (give a free time everyday to yourself and your family, and take a day or two completely off per week).