Remember when I said that when you feel like you’re fed up, and burnt out, you should connect with other humans that remind you why you love what you do? Wellllllll, that worked for me once. But now I have new advice: be a hermit.
Seriously. The best advice I received for dealing with feelings of burnout was a few days ago, and that advice was: when you are so fed up that you just don’t care anymore, actively attempt to care less. Like just really get all the giving a shit out of your system. Stop caring at a molecular level. Split the atoms of the fucks you do not give, and then split them again. Create a nuclear meltdown out of all the energy that you’re not caring with. Enough metaphors for now…
In my situation, I could never focus on what I was supposed to be doing, due to a number of factors, some of them complex and one of them just being that I am an insane, quality-obsessed, control freak bitch-ola. I was so used to responding quickly to everything that came my way — emails, Slack messages, carrier pigeons — that people expected it of me, and I felt like I owed it to them.
But then my boss told me something radical. Like some life-changing shit right here. She said, “Just… don’t.” That’s basically what she said. There were more words and it sounded better than that, but that was the gist of it.
So, I tried it, being a bit skeptical. But I stuck to it for one whole day. I shut down my email, closed Slack, turned off my phone, shut my office door, and put headphones on.
I was READY FOR THIS.
And you know what happened? I actually got a lot done. I worried occasionally that something was exploding in my inbox while I was not checking it. Someone needed something, somewhere. I could sense it like Batman knows to look up and see the bat signal. But I kept my nose to the grindstone and typity type typed all morning.
I turned on my email again just before lunch, and Slack, which both promptly exploded like a can of pop left in the freezer too long.
As it turns out, people did need things. They were asking me things. But, nothing terrible happened when I didn’t answer for a few hours. It sounds really stupid to say that, but when you’re used to being hyper-responsive, it takes a little while for that to sink in. People were confused. They sent me messages hoping I was okay because they hadn’t seen me all morning. Ha!
So I replied to a bunch of things, did a few things, and went to have my lunch. When I got back, I immediately shut down all communications and barricaded myself in my office again, this time with cookies. Typity type type for the rest of the day.
I accomplished a lot, and even more surprisingly, I had fun. FUN. What the fuck.
For the past few months, I’ve felt drained, uninspired, unconfident and angry. No one could really tell because I am a naturally grumpy person, but the days were dragging.
And it’s not like one magical day changes all of that. I still have issues. I still have worries, and anger and all sorts of shit going on in my head. But now I know that I really do love what I do again, because I did it for a whole day non-stop with no distractions and had the best day I’ve had in a long time.
It didn’t take talking to other human beings to make me realize that again. It just took one comment from someone who’s pretty smart, and for me to become a hermit.
Following this schedule of only being available at set times of the day in order to focus on your Big Things at work is quite life changing. And, if you’re a mega-bitch like me, isolating yourself in your office also has a positive effect on the people around you… because they no longer have to interact with you. Bonus for all.
How do you get shit done when you really need to? Share your secrets with me… clearly I need them.
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