Burnout: Better than Fading Away?

Monday was the second time I’ve missed a blog since I started over a year ago.

I had time to write a post the day before. I decided to play computer games instead.

My brother, in our dad’s old Camaro. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of burnout I’m talking about.

I had a topic lined up. Between a motorcycle I’d ridden only twice all summer, and this post by Kristen Lamb, I knew I needed a “play” break, and I took a nice ride Saturday to do just that. And wound up taking photos to go with a My Town Monday blog post. But honestly, it was a play break.

But when it came down to it, I Just. Didn’t. Want to.

When I am not sitting at my computer at a place where I can write a blog, I have all kinds of great ideas. If it’s something new, I note it on my Blog Ideas document on my phone, which gets backed up to Dropbox and is always available on my computer. But when I’m not at my computer in a place where I can write a blog, I also get great words for said blogs. Then I go home and when I am sitting at my computer, I Just. Don’t. Want to.

So this week I didn’t.

I’ve been having this kind of blah feeling way too often. It’s been bad all summer, and I don’t think it’s a “summertime blues” thing. It’s not just blogging, either. It’s the day job (which I like!), other things around home, and even writing fiction. No motivation to do anything!

A lot of times when I’m trying to figure out what to do in a case like this, I ask myself what would I tell a friend who told me these things.

In this case, I would ask her, could she be depressed?

But I have not been feeling sad. Just unmotivated – to do anything – and tired, both physically and mentally.

One thing I have managed to do this summer is to (mostly) keep up with exercise. I do three interval workouts on the treadmill every week, plus a couple of shorter workouts doing things like pushups, crunches, lunges, etc. The main reason I started was because I hoped it would help me be less tired.

It hasn’t helped noticeably. (I get to read on the treadmill, so that helps keep me motivated.)

Then I read this blog by Louise Behiel and saw myself all over it. I took the quiz linked from the blog, and the results did not surprise me.

I’m heading toward burnout.

It’s not my job – at least, not by itself.

It’s not the writing – I haven’t been doing that much of it.

It’s not the social media – I’ve cut way back on that, feeling this whole burnout thing coming on.

It’s the combination.

At work, I have one project where the client keeps having one problem after another with a web application my team developed (and I am currently the sole developer on). None of these problems appeared during testing, and I haven’t been able to reproduce them outside of his installation. But I’ve seen the issues, and it’s incredibly frustrating on many counts. I take a lot of pride in my day job work, and I take it personally when I can’t meet a client’s expectations, even when it’s no fault of my own. The client’s been great to work with – really, very understanding through all of this – and I hate letting people down, especially people I like. And, I know how frustrating it is to not be able to do my job because of something stupid like computer problems that are out of my control, and I hate it that my product is putting my client into that situation.

At home and with the writing, I have the age-old too much to do, not enough time to do it.

But like Louise’s post said, burnout is not a fun place to be, so I had to do something about it – three things, in fact:

1. At work, I asked for help, something I have a very hard time doing. The areas of the application where the problems occur are areas that aren’t in my main expertise, so hopefully my colleagues will be able to figure out something I wasn’t able, and I can move on to other things that will help my client.

2. At home, I’m making a concerted effort to focus on one thing at a time – and when I’m done, go ahead and play computer games.

I also got a call from my doctor yesterday with some news that surprised me: I have borderline hypo-thyroidism. After further discussion, we decided to just test again in six weeks or so to see if it’s still low, rather than jump into medication right away. It’s not low enough to necessarily have noticeable effects, but then again it could be adding to my tiredness. So #3 is, check to see if there’s a physiological cause.

What about you? Are you, or have you come close to burnout? What did/are you doing about it?