Uni: Burnout

I don't know if it was Donnia, or someone else, who first told me, 'if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.' But, even for those of us who relish always staying busy, and who can't tell the difference between work and play because we're having so much fun immersing ourselves in all of it... it can be overwhelming in certain moments.

I may have mentioned a certain billion+ dollar project my campus* is beginning to work on now? Well, it isn't just starting now, it's actually been going on for years. The past three years have involved me, as I've given out extremely detailed information on all of the buildings on the chopping block (400,000+ sq ft, dating back to 1924), plus fairly detailed systems information for the spaces that were being renovated in other buildings to accommodate the employees and services displaced by the impending demo (including my own offices) and the underground utilities servicing the above. I inserted myself into some design-team meetings to ensure the BIM goodness happening was structured in such a way that we could use it afterward, many props to HOK and OWH and BR+A for welcoming me and my input and working together for the maximum long-term benefit.

Also, I was working on the project management team spec'ing out a system-wide enterprise* CMMS implementation, also involving servers and pricing for mobile workforce implementation (none of our equipment rooms have wireless coverage!?!? Ghastly.).

Those were on top of my normal workload, so, obviously, things had been FAR more stimulating for me at work during the time that I was in school, not a lot of spare processing power available in ye olde noggin. And, of course, I continued to work as a technical editor during this time, though I took a break from almost all of my freelance writing.

I digress, back to my writings, Originally posted on November 8th, 2011:

As positive as I may be about my experiences here at SLU, and as grateful as I have been for the opportunity to study and grow here, I would be completely kidding anyone if I claimed it was not stressful.

I’ve experienced burnout!

During my first year in the School for Professional Studies, I took one class at a time. I was nervous going into it, but I felt my confidence grow with each project and course successfully completed. I admit I resented the late nights and the homework. I woke up at 5:45 AM to go to work. After work, I would grab a rushed bite to eat and spend 5:30 to 9:30 in class, then drive back home to the county, where I would be lucky to catch my husband still awake, unwind and fall asleep by midnight.
[Seriously, I sometimes ate three meals a day in the cafeteria at work. No offense to the fine folks in Food & Nutrition, but, this right here is cause enough for burnout! lol. Oh, and I quickly discovered that while a dinner of funyons and mountain dew may have been fine when I was a teenager, it's a BAD idea for an adult. ;) ]

Not wanting to disturb my family’s routine more than I already did, I tried to do all of my homework and studying during my lunch breaks. As an introvert, my lunch breaks have always been a time for me to recharge. Having to give up my quiet relaxation time, the occasional walks and leisurely meals in favor of intense concentration and online discussions got old.

This can lead to what we commonly call ‘burnout.’ According to Handbook of Occupational Psychology, burnout is actually “a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job,” which can lead to a decreased ability to function.

In 2009, I began taking two classes at a time because I was unable to stand the idea of going through this new routine for eight years. I was determined to do it in four instead. Of course, it got worse after that. The first semester I took two classes while feverishly questioning the wisdom of my decision. But, like I had been doing from the beginning, I repeated to myself, “I can do anything for nine weeks.”

There have been some late nights and some missed social opportunities. I will also confess that there have been some conflicts with my husband. Although seldom, he has occasionally become resentful of my lack of availability when I closet myself away to take a test or finish a paper. Although the biggest supporter throughout my schooling, he has had to work hard at some odd hours in order to keep our house running smoothly.

The point of this blog is not to scare anybody, but to be realistic. My hard drive failed when a paper for school and a major magazine article were due.

I cried.
Then I redid the work over a few sleepless nights.

There are certain coping mechanisms available for the expected strains. My family eats packaged foods so we do not spend our weekday evenings cooking. I take time to read recreationally every night right before bed to relax myself. Every now and again, I have scheduled a day off work and spent it in the [county] library, which brings me home a little early, giving my husband a break. We laugh often and take time out to give thanks. And those are just a few of the ways we stay sane.

Photo Credit: Shine.com
* all opinions expressed on this blog, and anywhere else I write online, represent my own opinions and not those of my employer nor it's affiliates.

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