Recently, I've had a few too many things on my plate to deal with, and have been flirting with burn out, so it's time to take stock and stop being an idiot. In order to stop doing something, one must understand the things that are being done. In light of that, let me enumerate some of the ways in which I am an idiot:
- Recently, for only the second time this year, I went to one of the many social events organised by work. They're a great chance to hang out with people I'd not normally see. I've been an idiot for prioritizing sitting at a keyboard over spending time getting to know other people and getting a better view of the company I work for. More broadly, I spend too much time at work, and it doesn't bring happiness. Don’t you be an idiot too. Go and talk to someone.
- I've still got about half my annual leave to take even though it’s now December. I've been an idiot for not prioritizing resting and looking after myself. I'm in touching distance of finishing a big project, and once that's done I'll be taking all my remaining holiday. You should also take your leave. No project has failed because someone went on holiday.
- For months, I was "too busy at work" to go to the doctor about a nagging pain in my foot. After it became so chronic walking to the office every morning was painful, I finally caved and went to seek help. It's going to take months to sort this shit out. If I'd taken the time to go to the doctor sooner I'd be better already, and things wouldn't be as painful or complicated as they are. I was an idiot for not prioritizing my own health. How can I work when I'm sick? If you're feeling rubbish, or you need treatment, go and get it. Then, once you’ve done that, come back and be busy.
- Switching off from work is a must. Drawing a line between the office and home is vital. I've been an idiot for looking at work stuff after hours, when I can't really do anything about it, and never properly disconnecting. Facebook have an app called @Work and a recently-launched @Work Chat app, and I use these extensively. Your work may use a different email or calendar server you use for your personal life. When someone who's not an idiot leaves the offices, they mute work-related conversations, calendars and emails. Not doing that is a great way to burn out. Don't be an idiot.
- At both Google and Facebook, I've had regular international travel in order to talk to people and collaborate with teams. This has meant I've not felt able to book myself into after-work courses even though I've wanted to. I am an idiot for letting work stop me from improving myself and my life. As a concrete example, my girlfriend was Turkish (she’s still Turkish. Figure the rest out for yourself). I thought it would be nice to learn the language so that we could go on holiday, visit her family, or just chat at home (and --- hey! --- learning a new language is always fun). I tried a combination of Rosetta Stone and text books, but I always let work get on top of me, so I never put in the work required. I knew I needed to take a structured class, and I knew that would need to be in the evening. I never signed up, because I was “too busy”. Now I deeply regret that, and kick myself routinely for being an idiot. Yesterday, I finally signed up for a Turkish class even though it’s a ten week course, and even though we’re no longer going out. At least I can still enjoy learning. I really am an idiot for not doing this already.
The main lesson I’m (finally!) learning is that I’ve been an idiot because I’ve let work dominate my life. Neither Facebook nor Google made me work these hours, or worry this much, or stress about all the things that I do and have done. I let work do that to me. I’ve had enough of being an idiot.
I have a horrible feeling that once I’m well rested, de-stressed, and feel like there’s more to life than a constant grind of work, I’ll be better at my job, and happier too. I'll have no way of dealing with not feeling like shit, but it'll be fun to find out. I don’t know whether this will be the case for sure, but doing the same-old, same-old isn’t working well.
I’ll keep you posted.