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How do you keep yourself from burning out?


How do you keep yourself from burning out?

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bkubicek
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item How do you keep yourself from burning out?
pwhoyt
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Oh boy, does this one hit close to home!

How do you keep yourself from burning out? My suggestion is that you keep a solid separation between "work" and "personal life". Don't let one bleed over into the other. Don't define yourself by what you do for employment, and keep in mind what is REALLY important in life.

My burnout story:

You can tell a lot about an organization by looking at its employee turnover rate. In the case of one group that I was previously with, that rate exceeded 100% annually, as people would quit within months of being hired, and their replacements would soon quit. We also lost some really good long-time employees - skilled IT pro's with decades of solid experience...

This was in 2007-2009, and the economy was tight. Management was fond of proclaiming that "Engineers are a dime a dozen these days". Without going into excessive detail, suffice it to say that 16 hour days were normal, and availability "within 15 minutes notice" was expected at all times, 24x7x365, and getting an uninterrupted night's sleep - even on a weekend - simply never happened. Holidays were touted by management as "an opportunity to do extra work", with two employees quitting rather than working on Christmas Day.

Once, after pulling an all-nighter I was seen nodding off at my desk the next morning (having been there since the previous day, and all through the night). I was "docked" a day's vacation for that.

Some stress here and there is tolerable, but in this place nobody could escape it. It just kept building & building. It was miserable...

But I was one of only two employees who stuck with it.

Why.....?

Because my wife was fighting cancer, and I could not abide the thought of myself quitting my job under any circumstances (interestingly, the other employee who stayed also had a seriously ill family member).

She survived. It's been almost 10 years since then. I'm still at that same company, but with a different (and much better!) group. Many ills of the company's past management culture have caught up with it, and there have been some hefty fines, some "leadership" changes, and a lot of media coverage (I don't dare say who I work for, but it's a household name).

Once you get "burned out", I don't think it's possible to get totally "unburnt". While my work situation is now vastly better than it was then, my heart just isn't in it anymore. Not like it used to be. I have learned that there are more important things in life than "work", and sometimes that lesson is a painful one. I just keep checking my 401k every morning...
Kevin3NF
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While its not the answer for everyone, I went independent again. I pick and choose my customers, and what I work on and when. Sometimes even the sales part of the Indie life can keep you from burning out.

I also enjoy teaching. Blogging, YouTube videos, SQL Saturdays...all keep me on my toes and learning new things or old things better. And anyone can do this...W-2 folks or other.

As pwhoyt said...keep a good work life balance. Have a hobby, preferably one that has you moving (binging Walking Dead is not a hobby!). Family first!

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mfagan12
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The older I've gotten, the more aware I am about how stress, etc. affects me. I've been at my current position for over 11 years and it's the kinds of projects I get to do that prevent me from getting burned out and bored. Additionally, I typically enjoy a 40 hour work week--that's one thing that's always been a factor for me when accepting a position--I'd rather take lower pay and work 40 hours/week versus a higher pay and not have a life. Technically I'm on call 24/7/365 but as team lead of a now competent group of developers, I've worked to get them up to speed and needed training to be able to handle things without calling me on my vacations, etc.

That's not to say it's been an easy time or that I still don't have issues with burn out but nowadays, it's due to some people and their lack of organization and planning. I've gotten better about recognizing when I'm getting to that point, taking some time off to clear my head and get away from it, etc. And I've made it clear, especially to a contractor we have that used to be the boss--my personal time is MY personal time and when I say that I'm busy on a Saturday and that lack of planning on your part doesn't make it a crisis on mine.

Sometimes the best thing for productivity is to stand up for yourself and take time for yourself. It took me a long time to realize that but I'm glad I did and I'm fortunate enough to now have a boss that recognizes the need for that as well.
Mandeep Dulai
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I recently had a severe burnt out along with some other health issues which were partially caused by the burn-out. Now back on the mend, I look back and can relate to a few points in this article and the comments. I definitely did not know I was burning out until it was too late. For me the cause of burn-out was the volume of work, too much stress, too much coming my way and the souring relations with the team lead/co-workers, dreading going to work. Now I am much more aware of how much work I can handle and what to take on and what I cannot, this was a very hard concept to grasp but I had to do it for health sake. A previous comment is so true "I don't think it's possible to get totally "unburnt" ". Either we make changes before burning out such as improving work/life balance or we move on, it is not worth staying in an environment that is going to make you ill in the end. Another previous comment took me a while to realize as well "Sometimes the best thing for productivity is to stand up for yourself and take time for yourself".
Julie Breutzmann
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If I dream about work, that's a bad sign.
below86
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"I'd rather take lower pay and work 40 hours/week versus a higher pay and not have a life."
I had this conversation in an interview. A couple years ago I was looking for a job and I had a phone interview with a company. The interviewer said they expected their IT people to work more than 40 hours a week all the time(50 was expected). I said I could see doing it once in a while but not all the time. He then said that they regularly paid higher salaries than other companies in town because they know their people work more than 40 hrs week, I said no thanks. I think that shocked him.

I've been at my current job almost 2 years now and I love it. I get the occasional phone calls at night when things fail, not very often. And my boss let's me take that time back as 'comp' when I need it.

At my prior job there where 8 of us on a one week rotation for on call. Four of us on a rotation for one part of our month end processing and the other 4 on another part. When I was 'transitioned' out several of my coworkers also got 'transitioned' out. So all of the nightly on call and both parts of the month end processing all fell to one person.(there were others left that had been part of it, but new CIO took them off it) To her credit she lasted a lot longer than I would have. After just over a year she told the CIO she was done and quit. Since then 3 other IT people have quit, 3 others transferred to a sister company. The current staff is expected to work 50+ hours a week. I expect more 'burn out' to come.

Life is way to short, don't put up with 40+ hour work weeks on a regular basis. As other's have said you need that work/life balance. Take time for yourself/family.

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Chris Harshman
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The question assumes I'm not already burnt out, which I'm fairly certain that I am. I try to manage it so that the side effects of being burnt out don't spill out too often, and keep a fair work/life balance, but whenever I'm at work, it will all come rushing back in quickly since I'm nearly always operating in emergency mode.
RayC-714046
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Oh this hits close to home. I currently work in an environment that many other employees refer to as toxic. I have been here for 13 years, am the most senior person in my department, and that makes me the go to guy for every user that has a complaint about the I.T. department. I have a boss that doesn't understand separation of work and home, no matter what he says, because it is rare to not get a call on a vacation day, and of those calls, they usually solve the issue without my help. Hence, I have blocked every number in our department on my personal cell, so I get the voicemail after.

I am ok with what I do, I am a DBA that doesn't get to do much DBA work because I also support several other systems, and those system problems push a lot of DBA work aside. Which is stressful, because the SQL systems are important, more so than the applications that use it. And having a boss that doesn't know how to say no, and just keeps accepting the projects, and throwing them in the pile doesn't help either. Yes, I wake up, actually, I go to bed dreading the workday the next day, and it is really more because of a few people, rather than what I do. And with a cardiac incident to back up the stress scenario, I know I should be out of here, but giving up the load of vacation days I get per year, the flexibility, I do work from home at least one day a week, and the short commute, along with the retirement benefits, makes me stick around and try and keep my level of workplace tolerance down to a level that I can deal with.

I get that people get burnt out, and I may just be a pile of ash here by now, but I have less years to get to retirement than I have worked at this job, so does it make sense to start over somewhere? Granted if I go to another governement entity with the same retirement plan, I get to keep that up, but still lose in other areas. So, as I said, it is how much can I tolerate day to day, that I have allowed myself to live with staying in this position. Luckily, I have several co-workers that feel pretty much the same, so we have our own little support group, which can be a big help and make the difference on a bad day.
Chris Harshman
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RayC-714046 - Thursday, May 17, 2018 11:20 AM
...I am a DBA that doesn't get to do much DBA work because I also support several other systems, and those system problems push a lot of DBA work aside. Which is stressful, because the SQL systems are important, more so than the applications that use it...

Sounds very familiar Ermm

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