Burning Out

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We tend to work a lot of hours as data professionals, developers, even IT management. It seems that we often are in the office at night, on weekends, and anytime there is a crisis. Even when we don't have down systems, it seems the pressure to continue to build new features, functions, and ensure systems are operating well leads many of us to work longer hours than the expected 40 hour week. In fact, there are no shortage of companies that expect IT employees to work more than 40 hours every week.

This isn't limited to IT. Doctors, lawyers, and plenty of other professions put in extra hours at work. Even teachers often do work at home. I've seen this first hand this past year with my oldest son teaching 5th grade. He spends a fair amount of time doing work at the kitchen counter, not unlike what I used to do when I worked as a DBA in a few companies.

I have an amazing job. Along with Grant, Kathi, and Kendra, we all have good positions. We work for an amazing employer, Redgate Software, and we get to travel around, speaking at various events and meeting lots of you in the SQL Server community. We also all work from home, which is becoming more common, but it still a luxury for many. In the era of double, or triple, digits of minutes to commute to an office, that's a blessing.

Recently, I saw this note from Kendra, and I get it. I've been there and I have a tendency to work too much. I like my job, and I've enjoyed both being a DBA and Developer, as well as running SQLServerCentral. I enjoyed it so much that there were a number of years where I struggled to take much vacation, much to the dismay of my wife. Even while on vacation, I'd be checking email and the status of the site. Early on, I was afraid to take any time away from this site, scheduling time to log on, answer a few questions, write an editorial, and even edit a submission on weekends and during vacations.

I got better over time, balancing out work, though a few years ago, I was where Kendra is now. I had made too many commitments and really, too much travel.  I've felt what Andy described here, feeling tired and short tempered. I re-read some of my own thoughts and eventually talked with my manager. I scaled back travel, found a new hobby coaching, and I've felt much more balanced across the last year. Life is still chaotic, but it's a variety of things I enjoy. Plus, I still have trouble sitting still for more than a few days.

Working hard feels good. There's a sense of accomplishment from completing tasks and solving problems. Many of us enjoy this, but it's easy to become unbalanced with work and life. It's also easy to allow your boss to overwork you when we feel pressure to stay employed. Those are hard situations in which to find yourself, and I can only advise you that you can push back to find some balance. Most bosses, even bad ones, don't want to fire people. It's disruptive, expensive, and makes a bad situation even worse.

Remember, we work to live, not the other way around. Keep that advise close by in times of stress and learn to take time off, enjoy time with friends and families, and ensure you have something outside of work in which you can sink some passionate time. If you want some other hints, Kendra wrote a post on her situation.

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