Productivity doesn’t always mean doing work.
Productivity is often associated with doing some type of work. Whether it be studying, writing up an essay, taking a class, etc. Productivity is defined as the ability to create or improve something for a greater outcome. Oftentimes, we consider “lazy” behaviors to be anti-productive and we have this pre-conceived notion that productivity always means doing something. Well, have you ever asked yourself why? Why is it that productivity is only measured in the amount we do rather than quality rather than the steps in between the tasks? In today’s blog, I’ll be talking about endless productivity’s outcome: burnout.
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is defined as a syndrome where you are either mentally, emotionally, and/or even physically exhausted caused by a prolonged stressor. Burnout comes in about 5 stages: Honeymoon Phase, Balancing Act, Chronic Symptoms, Crisis, Enmeshment.
The Honeymoon Phase marks the beginning of a new task. It comes with high motivation, creativity, and interest in the task at hand and potential side tasks along the way. You may be planning out potential strategies to complete the task and may be well aware of stressors that come your way but you feel ready to take on the obstacles.
After numerous good days and high hopes, phase 2, The Balancing Act, begins to set in. This phase brings awareness that some days can be better than others in regards to how well you can handle the stress and how long. You may now be losing some interest in the tasks, feel easily distracted, or can’t seem to get yourself to even complete a simple task, or take you a little longer than usual.
The 3rd stage, Chronic Symptoms, is now coming in. You feel extremely irritable, constantly exhausted, angry because a now simple task seems overwhelming, and depressed because you don’t think you can even do the job anymore and aren’t happy to do it. Physical illness can even occur because of the amount of stress you are undergoing.
The 4th stage, Crisis, sets in, and your symptoms are now becoming an everyday feeling rather than once every two weeks or once every week. You are now only thinking about your stressors, you feel overwhelmed, doubt your abilities even though you know you are more than capable of the job.
In the last stage, Enmeshment, your symptoms seem more like they are indefinitely embedded in you. You feel constantly stressed about what seems like everything going on in your life and all you want to do is lay in bed and sleep. Your identity becomes wrapped into your emotional, mental, and physical distress.
Even if you haven’t acknowledged it before, it has happened to you one way or another. Whether you reached all 5 stages or only up to stage 3, burnout has consumed a part of your life. So how does this even happen?
Cause of Burnout
Typically, burnout occurs when you are in a constant state of stress because all you do for maybe 8+ hours a day is work. You don’t take time for productive breaks. What are productive breaks? We’ll get to that later. People often shame others when they are not constantly being “productive” and we easily fall into this mindset of working nonstop. We see it in our average workplace. We get about 30 minutes to an hour lunch break and we go straight back into working non-stop. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why are we constantly trying to put out work when we aren’t our best selves? We need to step out of this mindset that productivity automatically means doing work. This just isn’t the case and can lead to burnout quickly.
How To Prevent It?
What are productive breaks? Well, productive breaks are set times between work where you can unplug. It is necessary to take breaks while you work as it promotes creativity and more efficient productivity. I highly recommend the Pomodoro method in which you work for 25-minutes, and take 5-minute breaks in between. This method has really helped me do work or finish projects longer because of the short breaks I get. You would think that continuously doing work would be better especially if a deadline is approaching but, it just adds to the stress. Breaks are extremely important to keep the quality of your work as good as when you started the task!
Burnout is something that I’ve experienced all too well. From my all-nighters in college to coding all day at my bootcamp, I would spend my entire day either studying or doing an assignment. After completing one of these assignments or taking the exam, I would remember how exhausted I was both physically and mentally because I used up all my energy. I could not even think about doing another assignment the next day or that week because I was so burnt out. I would literally lay in bed all day and just try to get some of my sanity back but this whole process could take me a week to even two weeks. Which I do not have time for. During my coding bootcamp I would be building out my projects and looking at code for almost 12 hours straight. It got to the point where I wouldn’t even know what my code is saying anymore.
When I switched to the Pomodoro method, I noticed how much endurance I had to keep going, and even when the next day came, I was ready to tackle the tasks I had at hand. I always felt so refreshed after each break and ready to learn more. This especially helped me during my time after graduating from my coding bootcamp. You really have to discipline yourself with learning Algorithms and applying for jobs because no one else is pushing you to do those things. The Pomodoro method really helps me stay on top of my tasks in a timely manner while avoiding burnout! Let me know if you have tried it and what your thoughts are! As always, happy coding everyone, and remember to take your productive breaks!