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Sam Williams
Sam Williams

Posted on • Originally published at Medium on

I Burnt Out — Forcing Myself to Work at 100% All the Time

I’ve written about how I utilise my mornings to do things like Doubling my salary in 5 months, and I wanted to carry on that level of progress. After a month of trying to force it, I was frustrated, exhausted and bored.

What I was doing

I was getting up every morning at 6am with the aim to do 1.5 hours of work before starting my daily job. I would sit down and try to do anything that I classed as making progress.

Why This Failed

There are load of reasons that this failed but here are the main three:

1. I changed my routine

With starting a new job, my routine changed slightly but the biggest change came when I broke my phone. This meant that I no longer had access to Blinkist to listen to a book whilst I had breakfast. To fill the time I turned to Youtube.

Youtube has a lot of amazing content, but it also has an insane amount of crap. Unfortunately that crap often has a great title and a eye catching thumbnail. I ended up getting distracted, watching useless video after useless video and wasting a lot of my mornings.

Because I changed my routine, I often forgot to do my daily bullet journal and weekly reviews. This meant I had no real plan for how to use my 1.5 hours and wasn’t catching my wasted time in my weekly reviews.

2. I had no direction

When I was trying to get y first developer job, I had a very clear goal with defined milestones.

When I was trying to double my salary, I had a very clear goal with defined milestones.

Currently I had no goal and no milestones. With no goal to achieve, I wasn’t delaying any work by watching another Youtube video.

3. I was forcing it

The days that I managed to actually get some work done, I was trying really hard to do really well. I had willpowered my way off Youtube and needed to make up for the days I’d wasted.

I was doing things just so I could feel like I was accomplishing something, not because I wanted to or because it was beneficial.

The Result

After a month of this, I was tired and frustrated. Tired from using my willpower to get some work done and frustrated that the work was crap and that I’d made almost no progress.

What I Did to Turn Things Around

I Chilled out

I decided that forcing progress wasn’t working and I deserved some time off. I still woke up at 6am but I did what I wanted. Watch a few episodes of Brooklyn Nine Nine? Why not! Have a session on Rocket League, Skyrim, or any other game that took my fancy? Sounds Fun! Snooze the alarm until 8am? Sometimes.

Set New Goals

After about 2 weeks of more relaxed mornings, I felt ready to start some work again. This time I knew I had to have a goal, so I sat down and came up with a new main goal.

For me this is to complete the Fast AI Deep Learning course. AI and deep learning is something that has always interested me, it’s a great skill for a developer to have, and there is a possible project at my job where I could use it.

As well as my main goal, I decided that I want to become more consistent with my articles, so I’ve decided to write one article a week. This is deliberately low so it’s easier for me to achieve, keeping motivation levels high. If I write more, even better!

Having a goal means that I know what I’m going to be doing when I get up in the morning, and more importantly, I want to be doing that. This should help me close the Youtube tab and start making progress again.

Restart Journal-ling

This goes along well with setting a new goal. My journal used to be amazing to making sure I knew what I was working on that week and that day. It helped me track progress and see how I was using my time.

It often catches weeks where you spend too much time on one thing as well as keeping you more organised in general.

I got a new phone

This may seem silly but it means that I can listen to Blinkist again, stripping Youtube from my mornings, removing a massive distraction opportunity.

The Aim

These changes will hopefully reignite my passion for progress and reduce the willpower I was using to force myself into work.

I’ll have better organisation of my life and hope to grow personally and professionally.

If you liked this article, please mash that clap button and follow me for more articles on tech and productivity.

Top comments (2)

ryanguitar profile image
Ryan Els

What keeps me motivated is having a pet project that I want to succeed. I already made the project in vanilla javscript using es modules and the newer css module scripts. But now I and rewriting it in Next so I need to brush-up on React. The skills I am learning and developing make me job ready. But more importantly, I am making something that is important to me and something that doesn't exist. I can't download the app or check out the website because what I am making is completely unique and it doesn't exist out there. It exists on my computer though. I have made it. But it only works on Chrome 93+ without bundling or compiling. So that is why I am re-writing it with React and Next. Next because of the image optimization and SSR. Because my project uses over a 100 images so that is a big factor. So basically all I am saying is that if you have an app idea or project that matters to you it will keep you focused and give you direction. Both in what to learn and in developing a grounded programming methodology. The project must be challenging and slightly beyond your skill set so it forces you to grow and learn and stay motivated.

deepgsingh profile image
Gagandeep Singh

Cool tips , thanks