Burnt Out Or Just Tired?
The guy was just about to put the ball in play when my phone rang. It was at the opposite end of the court.
Give me, a minute. I’ll be right back.
The guys I play basketball with don’t stop for much of anything. We once had a guy nearly knocked out by by the pain of a broken nose that he got running into someone’s shoulder. He laid on the court for a few minutes and then hobbled off to the sidelines while we kept playing. (Honestly, he said he was feeling okay, and we were at a really important point in the game.)
This morning’s game had just gotten underway when my phone interrupted. We play Tuesday and Friday mornings from 6:00am to 7:30am. The games are to 21 by ones and twos. Call your own fouls, and inbound at the top of the key. This morning we had eight guys: four on four. As I made my way to the sideline the game continued with seven. If you have ten guys and lose one, you can play five on four pretty well. In fact, the team with four guys wins more often than not. However, four on three is really tough to do.
I knew as soon as I saw the number that I was not going back in the game.
Rodney, come on, we need you. We’re getting killed here.
Nope, sorry. I’m done.
I swiped the ANSWER button a little harder than necessary.
Hi, this is Rodney. What’s broken?
And so started my fourth or fifth day in a row with system outages. Honestly I’ve lost track. I drove home and rather than head to my shower to clean off, I went straight to my office and logged in. Three hours later the call was complete and I finally could get ready for the day. It was a fairly typical day. However, we had a system change that I had to dial into a call for at 9:30pm. Then, I had another system change that started at midnight and ran until 4:00am. Six thirty AM to 4:00AM makes for a long day. I went in a little late on Wednesday. My phone rang on the way to work with more questions.
Last weekend I had a family reunion. For four days I got to hang out with my brothers and mother, my kids and grandkids and nieces and nephews. We had a great time. I only took five or six work calls during the weekend. My boss worries about me getting burned out. I’ve thought a lot about that. There’s a difference between burnt out and just tired.
I like my job. I really do. I work with great people. I enjoy the client. I like the fact that I get to be technical and also get to fix things and build interesting projects. My job is very demanding and takes a lot of attention to detail and a lot of hours. It’s been like this since I started two and a half years ago.
Am I getting burnt out? How would I know? What can I do to prevent it?
Burnt out, I think means you just don’t care any more. My lovely wife and I once worked with a social worker who really wasn’t interested in helping our kids. He did the minimum amount necessary to make sure they were safe, but he wasn’t interested in doing the extra work needed to make sure they got the services they needed to overcome the problems that landed them in foster care. He was burnt out. He didn’t much like hearing from us. We pushed him to get help for our kids.
Eventually, they were assigned a new social worker who was the most dynamic woman I’d ever met. She was incredibly busy. Much busier than the first guy. And yet, she jumped in immediately and started getting services set up for our kids that would help them get better. She was sometimes tired, but definitely not burnt out.
I considered my own situation. I’m excited to be working through some of the challenges that our project at work has. I felt honest excitement yesterday when one of our engineers finally found a bug that was affecting our ability to record calls. We’d been chasing it for a month and he finally fixed it. I have a business trip coming up next month that will conflict with a Boy Scout rafting trip that my boys and our troop are planning. I’m disappointed that I don’t get to go to Moab, UT with the boys and go whitwater rafting, but I’m excited to be back in Louisianna and launching a new line of business.
I don’t think hard work is what burns out employees. At least it doesn’t for me, or the social worker that helped my kids Sure, I’m tired and I’m excited to be taking some time off next week to go to Yellowstone with my family. But, I’m equally excited to be coming back after that trip and jump into our summer projects at work.
So, if working hard doesn’t burn out employees, what does?
Maybe I’ll write about that tomorrow.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved