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Eva Marija Banaj Gađa
Eva Marija Banaj Gađa

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It is just work

There isn't a magic solution to burnout. We all have different aspirations, goals, motivations and sources of stress. 
This is a short tale of how I changed my perspective, and by doing that, managed to handle my burnout.

What do we get from our jobs, apart from the obvious? 💸

A sense of accomplishment and worth. All of us are, to some degree, defined by our work. How can we not be? We have a need to prove ourselves, to progress our career, to be the best at what we do, to be recognized and valued for our contributions. More often than not, we spend more time at work than we do with our families.

This is a slippery slope if you ask me, because, what if the job we do requires more from us than we are capable of giving? Do we just accept that? Do we decide that things will get better in time and it was just a temporary setback due to some underlying cause that might not even be related to our capabilities? Do we tell ourselves we are doing the best we can and everything will work out in the end?

I don't. At least I didn't. 

Instead, I felt like a failure. But, fear not! The solution is simple. Just put in some extra hours, get more things done by bringing your problems home and it will get better and your effort will be recognized. Right?

Once I reached the point of feeling like I'm losing ground beneath my feet, no amount of extra hours made me feel less like and impostor that should not be here and will be found out at any second.

And then I realized. I was never found out. That means that either I'm the best impostor that ever was, or that I hold myself to an impossible standard.

🌟 Little milestones

I started my first job as a software engineer while I was still at college. Everything was a challenge, and an interesting puzzle I had to solve. As fun as it was to play detective, I noticed that it didn't stop when I went home. Some background process was always running. It became tiring. Colleagues assured me that it is "normal" and "natural", because that "is the job". And I believed them for a while.

But why should it be "normal" or "natural". I never signed up to spend all my time working, actively or passively. So, my first attempt to avoid this was to stay at work until I finish whatever it was that I started. This resulted in quite a bit of overtime, but it did the trick. Then it evolved into not even starting anything that I know I cannot finish before the end of the day. And that is something I still do to this day - but I built on it a little.

Instead of thinking of each ticket as a whole, I'm thinking of each ticket as a little project on its own. This way, even though the ticket is not yet done, 3 out of 4 whole milestones are done, it is 5 pm and I can close my laptop and not think about it until tomorrow.

💚 Take care of yourself

Listen to yourself. If you need a break - take it. If you are sick, go on a sick leave and get back to 100%. And I mean 100%, not just barely good enough to survive. 
It is not illegal to go on sick leave, even though it might feel like it sometimes. Your colleagues will manage for a couple of days until you get that well deserved respite your body requires.
Same thing goes for holidays. Always have a holiday booked - have something to look forward to. It is important for ones productivity and well-being to regularly take time to rest and get away from everything.
World will not come to a halt if you are unable to can anymore.

❗Do your best, but don't give your all

And I can't stress this enough. Whenever I started a new job, I always had this need to prove myself, to show how much I can do. And that is amazing as long as you can keep delivering that rate all day, every day.

At first sign something is off, and your output falls, everyone is going to be super surprised and will expect of you to get back to "your old self" as soon as possible. This usually stressed me further causing my output to fall even lower until I had to take a couple of weeks off to recuperate.

So I decided that was not optimal or sustainable. I gave a little bit of effort into finding a pace that works for everyone. A pace that will not burn me out, that I can keep up consistently and that provides output at sufficient intervals. 

Then, when hypothetical s*it hits the fan, it is not such a problem to pull my weight and then some for a couple of weeks, and then lull back into my comfortable, productive pace that is not taking a toll on my health.

🕔 It is just work

Simple as that. Today it is this company, tomorrow it will be that company. We are essentially selling our time and skill to the best of our abilities to provide ourselves with means to do what we enjoy in our free time.

Best things in our life should be those that happen in the time we didn't sell. If we are not enjoying the time that is ours, if we are not spending it in a fulfilling way with people we love, then what are working for?

At the end of the day, it indeed is just work.

Top comments (19)

wraith profile image
Jake Lundberg

Thank you for sharing your story 😊 something I recently learned from the 6 Types of Working Genius is that people are much more likely to burn out when they spend too much time in their working frustrations, and not enough time working in their areas of working genius. in your experience, from your experience, do think there is some truth to this? would love to hear your thoughts.

netcat5679 profile image
Eva Marija Banaj Gađa

Tickets may be hard or boring or tedious, but they don't impact my energy level the same way frustrating situations do. Workplace frustrations take a different kind of toll.
I came across some article talking about different types of rest, and being mindful of that helped me quite a bit. Instead of pushing through the entire day and letting frustrations accumulate, I take a little break every time I start to get frustrated by something - take a short walk, pick up a guitar or lay in the dark room for a couple of minutes. Some frustrations stay, of course. We have relationships with people we work with, and it is hard to just "not care about it".
So, to answer your question, yes. I think that improving the work environment by leading better meetings, paying more attention to hiring and paying attention to the needs of team members, must lead to a less frustrating work environment. That will then lead to more fulfilled and happy people that work well together and are able to communicate openly. And people who trust each other and are comfortable working together are more effective and productive.

birchwork profile image

same as u

alxwnth profile image

Thanks for the great article. My five cents: developing a mindfulness skill (by which I mean not the overly advertised meditation thing, but learning to mindful of your body and listening to the signals it gives) can help a lot in preventing burnout. Because burnout is easier to prevent than treat. At least in my experience

_ndeyefatoudiop profile image
Ndeye Fatou Diop

Amazing post. I unfortunately have this obsession with work and it’s hard to get rid of it. The only way I could find is develop other obsessions outside of work, yet still work can be just too attractive 😌

netcat5679 profile image
Eva Marija Banaj Gađa

Maybe start by trying to find little things that make you happy in each day. Do something just for yourself. It might be easier and more fulfilling than finding a replacement thing you are going to focus all your energy at, so you wouldn't focus all that energy at work. Put your self first and ask yourself what would make you happy. If that is finishing something for work, so be it. 🙃

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Well said

bart97coder profile image

This story offers valuable insights into overcoming professional burnout by shifting perspectives and prioritizing self-care. It emphasizes the importance of setting boundaries, recognizing personal limitations, and finding a sustainable pace in the workplace. The author's journey highlights the need to balance productivity with well-being and to remember that work is just one aspect of life.

reenatoteixeira profile image
Renato Teixeira

this was an amazing article to read! thanks for sharing a little of your story here, it helps more people understand and deal with their same problems.

canro91 profile image
Cesar Aguirre

For me it boils down to two mantras:

  1. You can always change jobs, but you can't change your family
  2. Don't be a hero. In movies, heroes always die
l4ur4oliveira profile image
Laura de Oliveira

What a precious post! Thanks for sharing!

eayurt profile image
Ender Ahmet Yurt

work is work. yes! good post, thank you 🙏

moghwan profile image

This post was a good read, thanks for sharing!

prsaya profile image
Prasad Saya

💚 Take care of yourself

I came across this word called as "self compassion" couple of years back. And, this is so important.

And, then just to think - is a human being born to work?

carle profile image
Carleena Allred

Sometimes one gets caught up with work and "things" then tends to forget about "Themselves" often leading to burnout. Self-care should be priority. Sadly though, it often is not. Good information. Thanks. Some people at times need to be reminded.

balaliss profile image

Burnout is so real. I am in the middle of it right now. Cheers, and thank you for sharing.

billyou profile image
Billy Ou

Thank you!

linuxguist profile image
Nathan S.R.

12 Simple ways to stay focused and increase productivity :

12 Simple ways to stay focused and increase productivity

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