2020 is a never before experience for most of us. Especially for me it was both chaotic and charismatic at the same time.
Even after Dec 31st, it felt 2020 continued as Dec 32, 33, 34 etc. Nothing changed. Life continued the same way as 2020. I never felt the move into a new year. Work continued, life continued, fears continued and the clock continued to tick. I could not stop the momentum with which things were happening just because the date in the calendar flipped.
I was eagerly waiting for all the commitment to come to an end. I was also deliberately saying NO to new projects. I was hoping and praying that no new emergencies come in during this period. I carved out 20 days for myself in March to just take a break in my head. I called it a reflective vacation.
Truth to be told, I never took a reflective vacation in the last 42 years of my life. Even in the (real) vacations my mind was racing about todos, work or writing or side projects or reading or some productive thing (according to me). This time I said NO to all things productivity as well. You could call it as an unproductive reflective vacation in many ways. I am glad I really took this break. This break made me reflect not just 2020 but life so far.
I uncovered a lot unusual burnouts that was taking a toll on me. This made me question everything good as well.
Are you also going through a similar GOOD burnout and you are not paying attention? Read further
Here are 10 types of (unusual) burnouts from 2020
1/ Productivity burnout
Productivity is a good thing. Striving to be efficient and effective in everything you do is exemplary but be aware it can also burn you out.
I realised, I suffered productivity burn out trying to cross the checklists, keep up commitments, answering accountability, complete my todos for the day, writing my journals & reflections, walks, writing, reading, pomodoris and more. I just couldn't keep up with productivity with unforeseen emergencies at home, increasing workload, dependency goof-ups, planning fallacy and beyond.
Relook into your habits. My humble learning is, that which is the source of dopamine could become the source of cortisol as well.
2/ Communication Burnout
Communication and collaboration is a good thing. However when it becomes an overhead it adds stress.
Remote work increased the communication overheads. What took a simple face to face meeting and a humble whiteboard took many zoom meetings to explain the same things with half the effectiveness. Videos being on at all times and staring the screens throughout the day was just tiring me out. Despite defined work hours, meetings happened every hour sometimes even in sleeping hours with a recording to catch up next day.
18 hours of work and 18 hours of remote working on screens is not the same. My humble learning is to reduce the work hours further in a remote setup. 8 hours in a normal setup must only be 5 hours in a remote setup. The toll is real.
3/ Sleepless burnout
Taking a little rest is a good thing. A Netflix break or a Nap is amazing after a day full of discussions and meetings.
The little break during the day snatched away the night time sleep either in the form of binge watching or nap in the day gave the needed rest. The sleeplessness in the night, took away the energy during the day. The productivity nerd in me utilised all the awake hours. This adhoc working exponentially affected my health.
Lack of routine and loss of sleep triggered hunger in wee hours. This increased the body mass at an alarming rate. Insomnia is a silent killer. Kill it before it kills you.
Commitment is a good thing. It is one of my core values. I hate breaking promises. I can't sleep till i set it right. You have no idea how horrible I felt not writing this blog for almost 20+ days. It killed me inside. However this goodness was not so good when you have other things life happening to you.
Working 18 hours a day to keep up commitments is unsustainable and unhealthy. To combat the bad remote experience I added more and more commitments to my plate. This was the beginning of downfall. Commit to self first so that commitment to others can be handled better.
Compounding is the eighth wonder. I guess Einstein forgot to add a "+" sign before the exponential power because the negative compounding was not feeling so wondrous.
Not being able to understand head or tail of the happenings while it was happening just left me silent. After-all compounding is not all that great. Especially negative compounding just paralyses you.
My humble learning is when life is happening allow it to happen and don't add further from your end reactively. Not doing much also helps. I did way too much and complicated the compounding.
6/ Leverage burnout
Leverage is an amazing thing, usually. To combat one burnout I leveraged the other and that caused trouble. To avoid consulting burnout, I ended up creating teaching burnout. To avoid teaching burnout, I ended up creating content burnout.
Leverage takes time and effort. When rushed leverage also causes burnout.
7/ Content burnout
Content is great. I say this both as a creator and a consumer. It is very exciting to learn about new things.
To create content, you should understand how content works. This needs some learning. To learn content you should consume content. To consume content you go through feed burnout. To keep a tab of feed, you hoard content under #forlater tab and not knowing how to handle #forlater, you pick tips and tricks on building a vault to manage all the hoardings. Finally you end up drenched in a ton of #forlater content, some notes, and a huge bookmarks list.
At the end of the day you feel guilty for not handling content well and you take up courses how to content better which adds more content to the already not consumed content. Don't go head on with abundance. You will be lost in the ocean. A little mindfulness goes a long way.
8/ Creation burnout
Creation is brilliant. It gives you a power of feeling closer to god. Writing, sketching, podcasting, video making, course making and more. It is just awesome however consistently creating everyday just drains you especially when life is happening. To keep up with consistency and commitment, I created all the time. I waited in hospital wards with a notebook or Apple notes, figuring out ideas. I stopped the car to jot down a new idea that popped. I drew doodles just to capture when it occurred. It was like living in a parallel universe.
Life was ongoing but I was living in my head in alternative universe. This took away rest to the brain. It was pushed to work 24/7. I woke up everyday morning with a pen and paper to capture those lovely synapses of that shitty night sleep. Not worth it to be overloaded cognitively at all times.
9/ Courses burnout
Learning is awesome. It makes you humbler by the day. The awesomeness turned into a nightmare when I pushed the gas pedal on learning.
Books are my weakness from day one. Let's start there. Skill share, Udemy, Domestika, LinkedIn Learning was one level of hoarding. Self paced courses and cohort based courses was another. I saw a little extra time and I decided to fill it up with learning new things. Not to mention spending enormous amount of cash.
Abundance is overwhelming. It is hard to keep up with so much content in a short period of time. I have no idea how many things I have hoarded in this period. Even good things in moderation helps.
10/ Passion burnouts
Passion is awesome isn't it? I have been a workaholic all along. I never felt this for two decades but for the first time I felt there is life beyond work. Don't get me wrong. I love my work and I am extremely passionate about creative problem solving even today. But passion can also burn you out.
My humble learning is there is no work-life. Life happens and in between work also happens. In fact life happens and in between everything happens including work. Use life wisely.
There was one common thread to all the burnout and that is time. Everything takes time. Cooking to cleaning to sleeping to reading to meeting to walking to working. everything takes time. Time is relentless. It keeps ticking away. The mindfulness of the ticking clock can also burn you out.
I couldn't find anything wrong as all the above are awesome things to have. Being productive, mindful, committed, consistent, hyper learning, passionate etc is awesome ins't it? Yes it is when your foundation of self care is set. When that one aspect is lacking everything else can burn you out.
If there is one life lesson I learned in this reflective break is, take self care seriously. You have one body, one mind, one you and one life. Don't screw it up. Notes to self.
For an extremist like me, these words are alien but moderation in everything helps. Especially when self care is low, reduce extremities. A pause everyday to reflect upon the day helps. Say no to things that are killing you.
Getting back to new and improved reality is great. I have prioritised self care over everything else for the first time in life and it just feels awesome.
Are you caring enough about your self?
🥂 to self care!