Burnout: it happens with even the best of intentions

Under it all

The check-in

I just got a message from a friend of mine who reads this blog religiously (thank you Kimberly!) that asked if I was okay because she noticed that I hadn’t been posting in the last few weeks. Yes, I’m fine. But I realize that I have fallen prey to burnout.

The denial

Many friends have commented to me that blogging more than once a week is admirable, much less 4-7 times a week on a regular basis. I thanked them and didn’t think much of it. After all, this is my vision, my passion. Why would I want to do it less than full bore? Anyway, I was sure I could go on for quite a while living up to this internal expectation before burning out.

Admitting to burnout

Actually, no. I bit off a little more than I could sustain and am finding myself overwhelmed. I admit, this is typical modus operandi for me. Only I am usually biting into someone else’s plate and either have to pull through to the end or risk letting them down. When it’s my own expectation there seems to be less compulsion to pull through to the end (like blog writing has an end!). So I let writing drop off while I pursued the part of my business that pays the bills and gradually got back into going to the gym and doing yoga. Both of which had taken a backseat while I was writing more consistently.

Where is that elusive balance that I wrote about a few posts back? In someone else’s life. At least that’s how I feel most of the time.

The reality

Today is my birthday. I am 41 years old. I had hoped that by now I would have achieved some semblance of balance. That I would have learned not to rush into things with the enthusiasm and naivete of a child. It’s not sustainable. I know what you are thinking. And you’re right. What I lack is discipline. It’s true. Ask anyone who knows me really well. It’s not that I don’t like to work hard. It’s that I don’t work in any disciplined way.

The way

David Allen, the productivity guru, says that people don’t need more discipline. What they need, rather, is a disciplined approach to their work. Something systematic that allows creativity to flourish. I am seriously attracted to his systematic and disciplined approach called simply Getting Things Done, or GTD for short. I have been flirting with this system for a year and a half while sitting on the fence about doing anything to get on top of my pile of work. Like most people, I get something done only when it is right in front of my face or on fire. Hence, I have all of these things I want to do or have to do that just pile up and are taking up psychic space. At this point, it’s quite crowded in here.

So, today I took the first step in getting on top of things. I took the GTD-Quiz to assess where I am in my approach to my work. Here’s what it looked like:

Jen GTD quotient.jpg

Surprised? Me neither. The ultimate goal, what David calls GTD Blackbelt, is to get up into the top right corner. Or at least into that quadrant.

So, here’s to getting back on the writing horse and achieving at least a modicum of balance. I don’t need to be on top all the time.    ; )