This year has been a busy one for me. I had 30 trips on airplanes away from home and around 100 nights not in my own bed. It's been quite a year, and a little overloaded. There have been a few months were I traveled little, but more than a few where I was gone more than I was home. I spent 19 nights away from home in September.
A few weeks back, I realized that I had another long trip coming up in October (9 days) and the PASS Data Community Summit in November. My body is a little worn out, but my mind is also distracted and struggling to focus. I recognized the beginnings of burnout when I realized that I was slightly dreading the Summit trip. While I want to see friends and catch up, I wasn't looking for a long trip.
On the spur of the moment, actually while sitting in an airport and waiting for a flight, I sent a note to the SQL Saturday Oregon organizers asking them to withdraw my speaking submission and not select me. I felt bad for doing so as I try not to create work for others or submit to events without the intention to go, but the extra 2 days in Seattle would make lift hard, and I thought this was the best choice for my mental health. I also chatted with my boss a bit about some work opportunities that were coming up and decided to decline a few other things, as well as skip conference submissions in Q1 2024.
I'm not burned out, but I do recognize that I'm overloading my body a bit. Physically it's a bit worn out and I can see that in my frequency and effort at the gym. Mentally I'm slightly dropping the ball on a few things, working slower than I often do because I find myself slightly distracted and looking for more breaks.
One of the big learnings for me over the pandemic was that I need to ensure I take care of myself and treat myself as I'd treat someone else in similar circumstances. I've had coworkers and friends struggle at times in life, where I've made an effort to work more and help them work less. I need to remember that for myself and ensure I can lean on others where needed. Redgate is an amazing employer and everyone is willing to flex with each other to ensure work gets re-distributed or we move deadlines. My manager and I have discussed this, and we are monitoring my workload moving forward in our regular meetings.
One of the best things I've learned over the years is to say no. I say no a lot to various queries on my time. Often when I feel I can't deliver on time. This year I was looking forward to these opportunities, perhaps a bit too much, and ran myself down a bit with over-excitement. I recognized that and made an effort to take steps to help myself before I burned out or started missing commitments.
The last month (and half of the next one) has been a bit rough, but I've mentally prepared myself for the work, and seeing relief coming in a couple of weeks is helpful. I've learned a bit more about myself this year, especially in relation to my slightly changing job and hopefully, I'll do a better job managing myself next year (or my boss will).
Learning to balance work and life is important. Remembering that life, family, friends, hobbies, faith, etc. are more valuable than work, and we need to ensure we don't overwork ourselves makes us better employees and better people. Any of us can get overloaded in the short term, but don't let that become an accepted part of your life. Your employer may push, but learn to push back and protect your physical and mental health.