Burned Out?

  • So how do you handle it when you feel a bit burned out/overwhelmed?

    Jack Corbett
    Consultant - Straight Path Solutions
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  • How have I, or how do I think (looking back) I should?

    i have a partially written blog post, just trying to decide if i want to expose that much....

    Gail Shaw
    Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server, MVP, M.Sc (Comp Sci)
    SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

    We walk in the dark places no others will enter
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  • I actually don't have any good advice on this one. I can tell you that going to a SQL Saturday, or better still, the Summit, has a tendency to get me re-energized about my work. I guess it's that reinforcement that even though you're doing it alone, you've got sympathetic ears, so it doesn't feel quite so lonely. That, and you hear stuff that gives you ideas and gets you going. But that is a tough question.

    Barring Summits & other huge events... try learning something different. Instead of pounding your head on the same old technology, check out PowerShell or SSRS, SSAS, nHibernate (maybe skip the last one). Getting some passion in one area frequently translates into others, same way as being really down in one area drags down others.

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  • Take a walk around the block and look at the scenery for burnout. Trust me, it works. Sometimes takes a few laps.

    On overwhelm, pick something that you can do that will get something done. Doesn't matter if it's "the" right thing to do first, just get some small piece handled. Then pick another piece, and handle that. Peck away at it, one piece at a time, and don't let the chaos intrude. It's called picking a stable datum, and it works. It's based on military and emergency work principles.

    If you want more details, there's a personal efficiency course I can recommend that covers these and a few other things pretty well. Takes about 2 hours, costs $50. Up to you if you're interested enough to make it worth your while. I know it's available in Orlando, but I don't know the address or schedule, but can find out both pretty easily if you want.

    - Gus "GSquared", RSVP, OODA, MAP, NMVP, FAQ, SAT, SQL, DNA, RNA, UOI, IOU, AM, PM, AD, BC, BCE, USA, UN, CF, ROFL, LOL, ETC
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  • Is this short term burnout or long term? Meaning is this a few days or weeks of a tough project or are you questioning the entire job/career?

    If it's the former, Gus has good advice each day. I'd take a couple walks a day, just get away from the office. I'd also say that you ought to work less hours. No matter what, going over 40 is going to make you much, much, less productive.

    At the same time, I'd say when you sit down in front of the computer, double down and focus on what needs to be done, not what you want to do, and work on it, with the idea that in 90 minutes, you'll stand up and move away for 15 minutes.

    If it's long term, sit down with your mentors, your family, the people that matter in your life and do serious soul searching. Think about what is really important to you. Then build a "get there from here" plan. Sometimes adjusting your attitude, or seeing and end to the current situation can help you.

  • GilaMonster (11/15/2010)


    How have I, or how do I think (looking back) I should?

    i have a partially written blog post, just trying to decide if i want to expose that much....

    Interesting as I'm contemplating a blog post about how I got here. I have some ideas on how to get through it, but don't have the energy to do them. :w00t:

    Jack Corbett
    Consultant - Straight Path Solutions
    Check out these links on how to get faster and more accurate answers:
    Forum Etiquette: How to post data/code on a forum to get the best help
    Need an Answer? Actually, No ... You Need a Question

  • Grant Fritchey (11/15/2010)


    I actually don't have any good advice on this one. I can tell you that going to a SQL Saturday, or better still, the Summit, has a tendency to get me re-energized about my work. I guess it's that reinforcement that even though you're doing it alone, you've got sympathetic ears, so it doesn't feel quite so lonely. That, and you hear stuff that gives you ideas and gets you going. But that is a tough question.

    Barring Summits & other huge events... try learning something different. Instead of pounding your head on the same old technology, check out PowerShell or SSRS, SSAS, nHibernate (maybe skip the last one). Getting some passion in one area frequently translates into others, same way as being really down in one area drags down others.

    I was actually counting on the Summit to get me going. Not going to make anything else until January when I may go to the Tampa SQLSaturday.

    One of my issues is I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the things I need/want to learn and lack of time to really learn it.

    Jack Corbett
    Consultant - Straight Path Solutions
    Check out these links on how to get faster and more accurate answers:
    Forum Etiquette: How to post data/code on a forum to get the best help
    Need an Answer? Actually, No ... You Need a Question

  • And it isn't just going over 40 hours. You can feel burned out if it starts to feel like you're working all the time even if it is just from an odd schedule. I was getting this way a few weeks ago, so I stopped working evenings for a few days and it helped immensely. When I start to feel burned out, I step back and do something completely different for awhile. Except at work, I don't touch a programming book, stay off forums, don't even look at programming on the computer and don't even read news about it. After a few days, if I find myself missing it I go back and I'm glad to be back.

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  • Jack Corbett (11/15/2010)


    GilaMonster (11/15/2010)


    How have I, or how do I think (looking back) I should?

    i have a partially written blog post, just trying to decide if i want to expose that much....

    Interesting as I'm contemplating a blog post about how I got here. I have some ideas on how to get through it, but don't have the energy to do them. :w00t:

    Non-physical exhaustion/burnout is usually a result of mental introversion. You get too stuck intside your own mind, and too locked into one "mental path". That's why taking a walk and looking at stuff helps on that. There's more to it, but that's the Cliff's Notes of the Reader's Digest version. Doesn't fully apply to exhaustion resulting from strenous physical activity, but I doubt that's what you're asking about.

    - Gus "GSquared", RSVP, OODA, MAP, NMVP, FAQ, SAT, SQL, DNA, RNA, UOI, IOU, AM, PM, AD, BC, BCE, USA, UN, CF, ROFL, LOL, ETC
    Property of The Thread

    "Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everyone agrees it's old enough to know better." - Anon

  • That's really a tough one - there isn't a canned answer that works for everyone.

    What has worked for me is to eliminate everything that you can, and try to spend as much time just relaxing as possible - watching TV, gardening, woodwork, reading (NOT IT related), whatever is plain relaxation for you. For me, the more time I can just relax, the faster I can recover. However, job/family still have requirements, which will stretch things out. If you're involved in extra activities, see how much of that you can dial down. All of the responsibilities from those will add to the overwhelmed feelings.

    Also, keep in mind that everyone "recovers" from it in their own time. The last time I had a major burn out phase, it took over 6 months. It also takes help from your family - not so much "leave daddy alone" as it is just "daddy needs to rest/relax", and for them to help you relax.

    I'd also recommend that you look back at how you started recognizing this... and then keep a careful eye on this in the future to be able to recognize early on if you're starting to go down again . For me, it seems to crop up every so often, and it's a lot easier to dial down a few areas gently to avoid this than it is to have to make major changes to those areas.

    One last thing... being burned out/overwhelmed is not too far removed from depression. Don't be afraid to seek out professional help. You may not recognize it, so you may need to ask key people in your life (spouse, close friends) about it and whether they've noticed any changes in you.

    Wayne
    Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server 2008
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  • Jack Corbett (11/15/2010)


    Grant Fritchey (11/15/2010)


    I actually don't have any good advice on this one. I can tell you that going to a SQL Saturday, or better still, the Summit, has a tendency to get me re-energized about my work. I guess it's that reinforcement that even though you're doing it alone, you've got sympathetic ears, so it doesn't feel quite so lonely. That, and you hear stuff that gives you ideas and gets you going. But that is a tough question.

    Barring Summits & other huge events... try learning something different. Instead of pounding your head on the same old technology, check out PowerShell or SSRS, SSAS, nHibernate (maybe skip the last one). Getting some passion in one area frequently translates into others, same way as being really down in one area drags down others.

    I was actually counting on the Summit to get me going. Not going to make anything else until January when I may go to the Tampa SQLSaturday.

    One of my issues is I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the things I need/want to learn and lack of time to really learn it.

    Pick one. Doesn't matter which. It's like boredom. The trick to it isn't that there's nothing to do, it's that there are too many options and you get stuck in "maybe" on them. If you can't figure out which one to do, pick one at random, roll dice even or use checksum on a newID to pick for you. It'll help.

    - Gus "GSquared", RSVP, OODA, MAP, NMVP, FAQ, SAT, SQL, DNA, RNA, UOI, IOU, AM, PM, AD, BC, BCE, USA, UN, CF, ROFL, LOL, ETC
    Property of The Thread

    "Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everyone agrees it's old enough to know better." - Anon

  • At one point I was getting burnt out pretty fast. I was thinking of work even when I was at home. I made the mistake of taking the work back home. I changed that with a small change in my attitude. After finishing work, I stop at some place and have a beer and detox myself of the work 😀 By the time I reached home, I got the work out of my mind. This changed the way I behaved at home. I was more relaxed. That helped me out. Now I can go a long stretch of time before I needed a break to revitalize myself.

    -Roy

  • A large event can be overwhelming. So the primary advice I give is what I got from Andy W.

    Play your own game.

    Don't try to do what Itzik or Jeff do with T-SQL. Don't try to be a TFS expert like Grant or dig into Powershell like Allen White. Do what you do well, and do what is interesting to you. Don't get caught up in all the shiny bits that appear from different people. Make a list of those things, go back to it periodically, but work on the things that matter to you.

    And use NewID, as Gus suggested, if you're not sure where to start.

  • I think burnout is a natural cycle. The advice the others have given is pretty good. In the past when I've approached a burnout I found that changing the pattern that's causing the burnout was the answer. I think this sums up some of what the others have mentioned with things like reducing hours for a while, learn something new or refocusing.

    I've done all of those and have gotten through periods of burn out. I'd add do this do something completely un-work related that takes a few hours a week that you are not currently doing. For me a few years back this was to enroll in kempo karate. I'm not currently doing it but did it for about a year as I went through the burn out cycle.

    What completely got me through that cycle was to change jobs. I left a place I had worked at for 7 years. Management had changed as well as the corporate culture. In hindsight my departure was the best thing that could of happened for both them and me. At the time it didn't feel that way to either parties.

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  • It will get better, it doesn't seem likely right now but it will. The best advice that can be given has already been posted - if you can't see the wood for the trees, then head for the hills from time to time. The view is magnificent.

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