How to prevent burnout
Zoom out and change your strategy.
6 min read
Thanks to these amazing people for their reviews and additions (at the end):
We are all different
My life isn't your life. Your life isn't my life. We all have different experiences and what you will go through will never be the same as how I'm going through it.
I did burn out back in 2020. Luckily, it took me only a week to recover. 💝 I know it can be different for others. I don't like sharing it, but I know it'll help others. 😤
I still work hard today. I think the main reason I burned out back then was because of three reasons:
Grinding every minute of the day
Losing sight of my vision
Skipping the fundamentals
Fundamentals to prevent burnout
Here is the thing, we need to sleep! It's so easy to fall into the trap where you start to play around with your sleep to become more productive. But in reality, you're just becoming less productive.
I once tried sleeping for three hours a day for an entire week. It didn't go well. I quit around the 5th day. It was during the time I was still in high school. I wanted to experiment and see how long it could last.
Despite having learned a hard lesson back then. I still found myself playing around with sleep a few times. Every single time, I learned the same lesson. Don't play around with sleep!
It's good to take a nap during the day. They help you recharge and boost you up for the rest of the day. I love naps. A nap a day is like splitting my day into two parts. It's incredible how much more productive I become by taking a nap during the day.
I rarely go days without naps.
I recommend not taking a nap longer than an hour. From my experience, that's when you fall into a deep sleep. Waking up will take some time, and you may feel drowsy. I recommend splashing cold water on your face if you feel that way.
If I don't exercise regularly, I feel like shit. Exercising is so important. You gotta do it. I'm currently doing it every day. It's been amazing. Exercising is the best way to feel happier. 💪
When you exercise, you release natural and good dopamine and endorphins. That's why you hear depressed people not being depressed anymore when they begin working out. Work out every day. You will be happier and more energized than ever before.
When someone tells me they have a headache, I ask them when they last drank water.
Make sure to drink two to three liters of water every day. I prepare three liters of water on my desk before bed. The next day, I'm already ready to hydrate myself. 🦍
How and what are you eating?
Don't expect to feel good if your eating isn't in order. Don't eat for the taste, eat for the results. Research what you're putting into your body. I'm not here to give you a diet, but I'll tell you to research your daily food consumption. 👍
How hard should you work?
I love to work hard. I get excited when I feel exhausted, having maximized the blessing of life. The blessing of my senses and being healthy. It makes me happy.
However, you have to keep track of how hard you're working. You should work hard, but make sure the hard work is smart. How much of the work you're doing is focused work?
Four hours of focused work are better than eight hours of distracted work. Don't increase the time you work. Instead, work the same amount of time, but increase the efficiency of the work first!
I'm not saying don't increase the amount of time you work. Do that by all means. I'm saying quality over quantity. Get real shit done instead of making yourself feel productive. Start by consistently getting quality work in, then increase the intensity.
Of course, don't forget the fundamentals. If they aren't in place, you better put them in place first! 🔥
Don't forget the vision!
Don't ever forget the vision! 👊
I think this was one of the main reasons why I burned out. I forgot the vision. I forgot why I was working hard. It made me so focused on my presence that I forgot where I was headed.
When you forget why you're working hard, the hard work becomes pointless. Instead of becoming more energized because you're closer to your dreams, you get more drained. You keep draining yourself till your burn out.
It's good to wake up and begin by reminding yourself:
Goals for this year
Goals for this week
The plan for today
Turn this into a habit!
You burned out. Now what?
You may be reading this and recently burned out. I don't know what will work for you, but this is what I would've told my younger self:
You have to zoom out! Zoom out and reflect!
Why did you work so hard?
What are you working towards?
For whom are you working hard?
What's the dream you have?
Are the fundamental life habits in place?
What's the quality of your work?
How many distractions are you letting in every day?
This isn't just about thinking. Write this down in a document. Start reflecting. You want to view this incident differently, like a bird observing the entire scenario. 🦅
After reflecting thoroughly and understanding what happened, do things that help you relax and feel better:
Visiting the nature
Going for a walk
Taking a bath
While you do these things, think about the dream you have. Think about why you were working hard. Think about how you want your life to be. 🥰
Don't forget to smile. Be proud of yourself. You worked hard and pushed yourself to exhaustion. You took action toward the destiny you desired. You actually tried!
I don't know how long it'll take for you to notice what you need to change in your strategy. But you are the only person who will know what to change.
Recharging from burnout is different for each person. Don't be too hard on yourself. 🙏
One day a week: Do a digital detox and completely recharge.
People may burn out by working on something they aren't passionate about for too long.
- An idea here is to change your job or do whatever you do differently but achieve the same outcome.
Socialize with people. It can help you realize that you are not alone. Many software engineers are going through the same struggles.
You don't stop when you're tired. You stop when you're done (Goggins). But when you're done, you should be grateful to yourself for what you achieved. Take time to reflect. Go somewhere. Travel. Write. Think about your three next moves to gain clarity.
Friends and family: Make sure you spend the time you need to with people who are important to you.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take action fast, ask for help, take a break, etc. You might think things will get better on their own, but it’s better to take action fast than to get burned out and need days/weeks/months to recover later.