On Burnout

On Burnout
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

I spent so much time and effort working on this blog that I forgot that consistency mattered more than immediate output. There was some burnout because I was spending so much time writing and making changes here and there, that it stopped being fun or interesting. I know now how to turn things around.

Burnout

This blog post is a departure from my usual content – it’s deeply personal. I want to share the story of creating this website and the unexpected encounter with burnout it brought.

As I write this in early March, it’s the first time I haven’t written anything in a week. Writing is ingrained in my daily rhythm. Mornings begin with journaling, afternoons flow with writing essays, and evenings are for crafting fiction. These sessions aren’t long, but they’re vital. They structure my day and organize my thoughts.

Except for the last week. My mind has been utterly fried, “knackered” as the Brits would say. The essays you’ve been reading are a compilation of work done over the past two years: some from my work blog, some from an engineering journal, and others shared with friends for feedback. Some were even talks converted into essays. The “hobbies for my job” series originated as pep talks I gave at Hack Diversity and my company to engineers feeling out of place in the tech world. They worried about not having tech-related hobbies. My 30-minute presentations showcased my diverse hobbies and their positive impact on my work, reframing software from an arcane skillset to a problem-solving tool, putting these engineers at ease.

All those essays on this website were re-written fresh in the last month. And that’s not all – there was significant rewriting and updating of existing work too. For the past month, I’ve dedicated 3-4 hours daily to this website, and I’m still only 60% through the initial plan.

This relentless work took an emotional toll. The past week, the mere thought of opening my laptop and writing, editing, with no clear finish line, filled me with dread.

Looking back, I see what went wrong. First, I procrastinated on the “hardest” parts, leaving them for when I was already weary. This approach certainly didn’t motivate me to finish. Second, I aimed for a single, monolithic launch – a foolish ambition. I should have started small, launched in stages, and gradually added content. A friend’s suggestion of a “minimally lovable product” (MLP) – a basic website version – offered valuable insight into the importance of scope limitation for initial releases. Finally, my planning was flawed. I crammed too much work into a month, hoping unrealistic expectations would fuel productivity. They did, but at the cost of burnout. There were two ways to handle this healthily:

  1. Acknowledge reaching a respectable output, fulfilling my initial goal of self-tricked productivity.
  2. Reset the plan when it became physically demanding.

Neither happened. This was my first major writing project, and it offered valuable lessons about my capacity and limitations. Moving forward with this website, I’ll keep these lessons close.

There’s a book I cherish, “No Plot? No Problem!” by Chris Baty. It offers excellent advice on sustaining month-long projects like this one, including the crucial reminder to be extra kind to yourself in the latter stages, when burnout and abandonment loom. I failed to connect the dots – the advice for novelists writing a quick novel would be equally applicable for someone revamping their personal website.

Well, the month-long struggle is finally over. I’m publishing all these essays in a few days, relieved to be over the hump. I’m genuinely excited about the upcoming work and writing consistently on this blog again. The plan is to publish an essay every two weeks, but we’ll see how that unfolds. Wish me luck!

Royalty-free stock image above from Pexels.

Sirish
Sirish

This is where all my quirky comments will go.