• Comments posted to this topic are about the item Burnout

  • This is a very important topic that not many people (esp. men) take seriously. I've been there. Done that. Took a long time and 2 job moves to come out of it. And don't think this only happens to 'older' people, I'm in my ealry 30's.

    For me, making a decision to 'take on' less (esp. with each new job) has been the most important change and what made the most difference.

    I'm not saying "Don't care anymore" or even "Slack off because everyone else does", what I'm saying is put boundaries in place and don't take on things that aren't your responsibility. Refuse to 'Fill in' for other peoples shortfalls, esp. when a collegue leaves, don't take on their work "because it needs to get done".

    Boundaries! they'll save your life (ok, maybe only some grey hairs)... 😀

  • Your description of burnout does not match my father. He burned out and had to take a leave for half a year. He was both the economic chief which alone requires a lot of extra work a bit too often and the other role was to lead the company for half a year at the same time while trying to find a new executive. He has always been a tower of strength even at 63 years of age. His burnout gave him horrible headaches and a lot of sleeping problems from the amount of work and all the things he had to do, he could simply not sleep for more than an hour or two for each night. He's better now, less sleeping problems and less headaches but the problems still remains but getting better.

    Thus burnout is something to have respect for and also know that it can take presence in different forms.

  • Great article Andy, it's one of those things that can so quickly turn in to far greater problems.

    Pride can be a terrible thing, there's nothing wrong with having pride in your work this should be encouraged more but it should never cross the line when it comes to your physical and mental health.

    Take a step back, examine the issue at hand and ask yourself is it really worth it?

  • Oh yes, been there!

    This can be a very subtle thing that is very tricky to recognise especially in the early stages. It's a bit like drink driving.

    You're a good driver, always alert and have a good sense of how to take that hairpin bend on your way to work. Hey you've taken that corner many times and you know the deal. Then one day after a few pints on Friday at the office you jump in your car to head home and of course you 'know' you're cool to drive... you're on the dot... no problem... only had two pints (on an empty stomach). Oh, here comes that hairpin bend again... wham you off the road... how did that happen!? I was so sure I was sharp and clear and have done this so many times.

    It's just that, you think you are sharp, clear and focussed but in reality your levels of concentration and your ability to focus and hold stuff in your head just isn't what you think it is and as a result life begins to fall apart.

    The question is what does one do if you cannot take time out?

    Thanks Andy, great post on a very sensitive issue that no one likes to admit or even talk about (or you might just loose your job or worse your techy status).


  • I've been there too and jumpin is right on all counts:

    - it's not an old person thing at all - I was about 30 too. The desire to please, to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible, and to do everything asked, is wholly positive until you reach your limit, and everyone a limit.

    The problem arrives when you have learnt enough to do anything, and before you realise that you can't to everything

    - it takes a long time to come out of - years. My recovery started with the "Don't care anymore" attitude that jumpin referred to; not giving a ****. I think this is a simple defence mechanism that the mind implements (without your agreement) to reduce the pressure. The real recovery is gaining the ability to care again, to be conscientious about, and proud of what you do. Get some help.

    Rather disapointed that the article didn't go into how to avoid and deal with the problem yourself. A good manager might be able to recognise the problem and do something about it, but a good manager probably wouldn't let their employee get in that position in the first place. More to the point, it's usually going to be the manager who has the problem, and it will be largely self-inflicted.



    If you are the manager, you have to learn to trust your employees and to delegate. Aim for what I regard as the "nirvana" of delegating EVERYTHING so that your employees do EVERYTHING for you and you can just monitor the situation and take the credit! OK, so you won't reach this nirvana, and there are some things like performance reviews that you can't delegate anyway, but aim for it, and you'll be heading in the right direction. And when the **** does hit the fan, you'll be in a position to step in and help out.

    For me, the perfect manager is the one who can do everything, but doesn't need to.

    jumpin talked about boundaries, and he is right. The "can do" attitude that is often applauded (usually by the people making the demands) is fine if you have the time.

    So, learn to say NO. START SAYING NO NOW! Not to everyone, not all the time, but sometimes, where there is a good reason to. If there is a sound reason not to do something, SAY NO NOW, even if you could do it.

    An example: "Well, I do have time, but John needs to learn how to do it himself, and perhaps it's a good idea for him to learn this month while things are quiet. Next month I might be too busy to help him and who is going to do it then?"

    So to summarise my tips for avoiding burnout:

    1. If you are a manager, delegate as much as you can. Start now before it's too late

    2. Practise saying No (in a nice way) and start now

    Dealing with it


    Much more difficult. Probably the main challenge is to realise where you are. If you realise before it is too late, implement the avoiding tactics described above.

    If you have already reached the "Don't care anymore" wall, then probably all I can do is wish you good luck, and reassure you that you are now, every day, recovering.

  • Great article Andy, and great comments.

    In my life it has been all about appropriate boundries. Know what you can do and need to do and just becuase you can do doesn't mean you should. Don't try to make it perfect, the idiots just keep getting smarter.

    Livin' down on the cube farm. Left, left, then a right.

  • "Don't care anymore", I wish I had written that:-) That's exactly what happens and it is a defense mechanism. I agree on boundaries and limits, in particular because I've always struggled with them and it's hard to say no to 'just 1 hour a month', which is about how long I spend writing editorials lol. But it's an hour here and then an hour there that gets you, all well intentioned.

    Looking forward to more comments, and I'll work on a follow up that talks more about avoidance and repair.

  • I like to remember that it's not permanent; just weather the storm. Every day is a brand new day. It doesn't usually last more than an hour with that attitude, but at least I can get that far. From there, just taking small steps to get out is still progress.

  • I think there are a few points people need to remember...

    The Company survived without you before you got there.

    The Company will survive if you are on vacation and not reachable, although you may believe differently.

    Everyone is replaceable.

    To often people feel that they are the only resource that can succeed at a certain task. Or that it won't be done right if they don't do it. I have been there, heck I was the only db resource for a year and a half supporting well over a hundred customers as well as internal folks. It was exhausting and i didn't use more than a few days of sick or vacation the entire time. I averaged 60+ hours a week and went... 'this is dumb... i am killing myself.' I took a week off with really bad cell reception... gave them the number for MS Support and the people internal to reach out to first... If it was that bad call and i would be trying to check my vm at least once a day if reception allowed. You know... the company was still standing... there were no calls to MS... and all was well.

    Our situation as fortunately changed. There is more than me now and has been for a quite a while. We both do things differently which is good. It forces us to question what we and each other do as well as help our implementations to be better. We both can take time off and even be out at the same time if necessary. Coverage is important but sanity and a person being able to reach 40 before the heart palpatations start is more important.

    We need to learn to take care of ourselves first. When i was a first responder i learned an important lesson. It took me a while to grasp it... but it is the whole concept of take your time... slow down... you are not the idiot that crashed your car or the person who made the mistake. If you don't take care of yourself you CANNOT help the person in trouble. Same goes for us every day. If we are punchy, short, drifting we cannot take care of our customers internal or external to the degree we truly would like to. THere is a point for each person where they hit their wall and decide what is important and what is not. Try to identify these before you hit your wall.

  • In Alcoholics Anonymous participants recite a very powerful prayer called The Serenity Prayer.

    God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

    You don't have to be an alcoholic to benefit from this simple tenet. If you think you're approaching burnout or know of a colleague who is, try to use or promote it. It helps. I know.

    Tom Garth
    Vertical Solutions[/url]

    "There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves." -- Will Rogers
  • Hi Andy,

    Important topic indeed.

    Recently I picked up a copy of a book from the 80's, called 'Is is worth dying for?', by Dr Robert Eliot.

    I found it has not lost any of its importance since it was written.

    Asking oneself 'is it worth dying for' once in a while already helps a lot!



  • Thank you for the article! :doze:

  • I had a bout of this late last year. Came to a head late October/early November. Not over it yet, better but still got the 'don't care about anything' feeling.

    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
    We stand on the bridge and no one may pass
  • Irony...the picture attached to the article is a motorcycle doing a burn out. The purpose for the burn out is to heat the tires up so they're softer and able to stick to the pavement better.

    When I hear about burnout and work situations I think more of a rocket exhausting all it's fuel. I'm glad the article didn't focus on the rocket example and kept the light on knowing what's going on within your own situations.

    Just like a racer heating up the tires we each need to know how to prep ourselves for the races we're in. You never to a burnout too long or else you've wasted your tires and are more likely to crash.

    Sorry to go off on the racing analogy but there's a purpose for burnouts and if we learn to manage our burnouts it'll help us to become more successful.


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