Thursday, August 18, 2011

Biting Off More Than You Chew: How To Avoid Burnout

Hey Edsters,

How are your internships going? If you read my last blog, you know my head has been spinning with work, internships and freelance projects. I'm still loving it more than any of my words can begin to express, but I've lately learned a very valuable lesson: be realistic.

I've always been pretty solid on time management and meeting deadlines, and let's be honest, I still am. When I promise work to a set deadline, I meet it, even it that means sacrificing time with friends or a few hours of sleep. It's really important to me to stay reliable because that's how you build relationships and gain trust for present and future professional relationships. But what I have been seeing, Edsters, is a slight decrease in the quality of my work performance.

When I'm at my part-time job, it takes all my control not to yell back at the rude boss I told you about before. When I'm at my internship, I can't work as quickly as I previously could. And when I'm with my friends, I barely have the patience to be relaxed and calm. I've realized I'm only thinking about work, and even when I am out exploring the city, I feel traces of guilt for not working on the projects I know are waiting for me at home. I think, for one week, I agreed to take on too many projects.

It has been a crazy week. I've found myself working 20-hour days, leaving my internship at 6 to run to work, then closing the store at 1 a.m. and walking home to start my freelance projects. When I was finally so weary I couldn't keep my eyes peeled anymore, I would retire to sleep for the few hours until I had to push repeat and start over. It wasn't healthy.

I didn't want to admit it, but I was wearing myself down to the point that I wouldn't be a valuable asset for much longer. I didn't want to admit it, but I was realizing my boundaries. I didn't want to admit it, but I only had 24 hours in each day like everyone else--I couldn't do everything.

Maybe I'm preaching to the choir (sorry for the cliche), as I'm sure you're all just as driven and dying to succeed as I am, but you really have to make sure you're only taking on a mangeable workload. I feel so silly for some of these tidbits of advice, as they sound so average, but I'm really finding myself in situations where they're hitting me hard. It's like when someone says "that's hot," but you know you're going to touch it to find out on your own. I had to meet my boundary before I could ever adjust and work with it correctly. Maybe you'll have to learn the same way, or maybe you can just gradually take on projects and evaluate your own mental health with each new addition. That might be the smarter one, Edsters. I think it may have helped me avoid a few exhausted mornings.

You can do it, though. You can make it wherever you want to be, and you can build the connections you need to be there. I promise. I really, really do. It'll just take some hard work, and I hope you can manage it along the way in the best manner possible for you. I've learned where my boundaries are, and I've evaluated how much work I can fit inside of them.

How do you handle stress and time management? Do you have tricks or tips to make sure you don't overload yourself? I'd love the insight and to hear any questions you might have.

Good luck this week!

For now,
Ed's Web Intern

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