Survival Mode & Dodging Burn Out

One of the benefits of experience is that you can see problems coming, that doesn’t mean you have enough experience to avoid the problem altogether! That’s been the case for me over the past 6 months or so. I elected to make some changes in my work life at the same time I had serious volunteer commitments (SQLRally, ERC, SQLSaturday) and I knew back then it was going to be a struggle, and that I needed to set a goal to work towards, a point where I would be able to step back and recharge.

I let everyone know that I was under pressure, and in February talked to Rushabh about transferring ownership of my PASS projects on June 1st. A lot of that was due to being tired, some of it was frustration at how parts of our system work, part of it that I’ve long known that if you want to survive change the best way is to change often. In particular for SQLSaturday that change of oversight has to happen at some point, better for it to happen while I’m still near by.

Having that goal to work toward was all that kept me going some weeks. For a while I had PASS calls five days a week. You think, how hard can it be to do an hour call, or even five one hour calls? But it adds up. There is preparation time,time trying to follow up,and it just adds up. I trimmed some goals and cut some corners (reduced blogging was just one of them) and just kept going.

I’ve finished up my obligations on SQLRally Orlando, finished up on the ERC (election review committee), and hopefully by the time this goes live will have written up the last of the sprints for updates to the SQLSaturday web sites.

My goal now is to largely do nothing but my day job for the next two months. I’ll have a couple of mentoring calls as part of The Mentoring Experiment, I’ll write more because it’s both relaxing and conducive to thinking, and that will be about it. I’ve got some ideas about what I want to do when I return to action in August, but I’ll let these sit for a bit before deciding.

Of course doing nothing isn’t easy. It’s going to take some time to get back to the point of working a 40 hour week and having it feel normal. I’ll no doubt be tempted by ideas and projects and calls from friends, but I’m going to do my best to be resolute and stick to my goal.

Did I avoid burn out? Maybe not entirely, but I managed the stress better than I have n the past at least, and that’s a step in the right direction. Should I have done less and not had to take a break? That’s a harder call, with no clear answer. The book answer is probably to do less, but in life sometimes you make sacrifices to accomplish goals, and I’m ok with that.