I remember the day I realize I was burnt out. It wasn’t the time I had to work for the 10th weekend in a row. It wasn’t the day my knees started hurting from spending so much time at my desk. And it wasn’t even the day I gave my boss my resignation out of pure exhaustion and frustration.
It was much later.
It was three months later. I only realized I was burnt out months into my sabbatical. I had quit my job without another thing lined up. I was so tired I couldn’t think about doing any interviews.
I just needed to recuperate! And it took me three months of unwinding my emotions to realize what I had gone through.
I lost the joy for my work. I was buried under more work that I could complete. Our project was set for failure. Working our team to exhaustion was the only approach. Our organization was not ready to course correct. But, hey, free dinner and free Ubers. Isn’t corporate life great?
There’s not enough amount of free sushi in San Francisco to make up for the pain I went through.
Looking back here are the signs of burnout I wish I hand’t ignored:
- lack of joy for life
- health decline
- (add your own)
But above all, the most objective clue I can point to is this:
Persistent unsustainable work
That’s really what it comes down to. Persistent unsustainable work.
If in doubt, ask yourself, “is my current work activity something I can do repeatedly for weeks on end?”" If the answer is no, stop and reassess. Otherwise you might end up burning yourself out.