Get A Breather: You Are Not Superman

There are so many guides on the internet, apps and even courses on productivity. But what exactly is productivity?


If you read this post you would realise that it reflects what this definition states. Productivity is not about getting more done in a day, rather it is the measure of how efficiently and consistently you get important things done. According to James Clear in his post, The Productivity Guide: Time Management Strategies That Work: no matter what you’re working on, there are only a few things that are truly important.


Nonetheless, to avoid being seen as unproductive, we might overstretch our abilities only to end up with major long-term issues that spill over into every aspect of our lives.


Where is this coming from?


Lately, I have been struggling with getting most things done, because I realized too late, that I had spread myself too thin.

Now, the problem with doing so many “urgent things” at a time, is that it leaves you drained, worn out and at the end of the day, that’s if you get to rest, all you think of is the fear of experiencing the same type of mental fatigue all over again.

We haven’t even gotten to the part where all this exhaustion eats into your creativity, saps your energy to the point where getting out of bed requires the determination of Hercules.

The short and long of it is that, in the end, your performance gets affected, you experience unrelenting stress and anxiety becomes more than the feeling you get before a big event.

You may wonder how, allow me to take you down this spiralling hole that left me wishing, I should have let the sleeping dogs lie.

When you land a job in these trying times, especially if it involves something you love doing, it is normal to try and give your all and try to make a name for yourselves. The first thing that comes to mind is that you could do anything to relive that moment of bliss as you imagine how you will soar through the ranks and become one of those blessed few, who earn from their passions.

However, there are two sides to every coin and here’s the truth that no one tells you;

  • It is possible to be chasing the wrong dream,
  • Sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan,
  • And yes, people get burned out from doing what they love.

The latter was a realization I had never wanted to believe until I heard it from someone else. Like me, this person had started out on his career journey with zeal and all the energy he could give for his work to stand out.

He would tell himself that even though the pay wasn’t as much, he could forget that, as long as he got a platform to nurture his talent, and create content that people could resonate with.

At first, all went well and even though a little of his effort was fueled by anxiety, it was okay, if at all, he could meet his and his bosses’ expectations.

But as time went by, his work started dwindling. Much because he couldn’t get a breather nor could he have the energy to produce creative work – which is what he’d always loved doing. So he thought, “After all, all I need to do is meet the quantity expected, why don’t I set aside anything that requires my creativity and focus on work that is more research-based.”

Deep down he felt that this wasn’t a very good decision because it would mean that his creativity capacity would remain stagnant and not many people would know him for it. Don’t they ask, how can it be art if it’s not created leave alone seen?


Much was at stake though. He was running behind deadlines and so to keep up, he gave up on the type of art he wanted to produce for more mainstream work which at the time, seemed easy and fast.

This too proved to be a roller coaster ride.

If he wasn’t missing a day or two of sleep in order to exceed his expectations and get that “you did good,” he was on the receiving end of remarks like, “You are not doing what you were employed for. To grow, you must create and there’s not much creativity happening in your work now is there?” This would only mark the first of many setbacks to come including,

  • The quantity of work he produced; it reduced as time went by in the same way his motivation and what had led him to take the job in the first place, faded.
  • His anxiety started to grow bigger than his drive to work and it became debilitating. As a result neither could he trust the quality of work he produced nor could he feel confident in his skill. As a result, he was rendered unreliable because he couldn’t meet the constant demand of his work
  •  Later, what he’d thought to be a little anxiety for not meeting deadlines, morphed to constant worrying, feeling agitated, restless and experiencing intense fear that would leave him at the verge of panic attacks. This altogether disabled his work and he felt himself crushing especially since losing his job felt more life-threatening than mere burn out. He felt trapped.

What to do?

Since he was feeling even more hopeless and cynical much, to even contemplate discussing any of this with anyone, he decided to embark on a journey of self-treatment.

Furthermore, it was hard to get anyone to believe what he was going through, when there were no visible signs to substantiate his claims. So, like the strong African man he was expected to be, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

*****

When you get used to unrelenting stress, especially when you’re in a phase of trying to find green(not greener) pastures, you might not recognize it when you take the road to burnout. Especially since you cannot imagine anything worse emanating from doing something you have always wanted.

That’s when you meet burn out, the menace that encroaches on both the employed and self-employed, regardless of whether one is doing something he/she considers a passion or a pain.

According to Help guide, burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by chronic stress. Just like in the case above, it leaves you overwhelmed, emotionally and mentally drained and unable to meet constant demands.

How do you recognize you’re on a way to burn out?

  • For starters, if you can’t seem to find the motivation and excitement that you once had, when you did something. It could be work or home activities.
  • You are exhausted all the time. Mentally, physically and emotionally.
  • You become cynical about something you once loved and you feel it’s a total waste of energy.
  • You find your day and the tasks you have to undertake mind-numbing, overwhelming and nerve-wracking.
  • You feel overworked but not appreciated. Hence you withdraw from responsibilities.
  • Sleeping patterns change and this spills over to your physical health. You no longer feel mindful of your self-care.
  • You develop a sense of self-doubt, lack of confidence in your skill and you start isolating yourself from others.
  • You feel agitated/irritated and you end up taking out your frustrations on others.
  • You take longer to get things done as compared to before. Procrastination becomes your new saviour and if ever you get things done, you have to rely on food or drugs. For instance, if you never liked caffeine, now you become a brand ambassador.
  • You feel trapped, unaccomplished and helpless.
  • Whether its work or home you feel empty and beyond caring.

To deal with burnout;

  • Be more sociable. Not through social media, but face to face conversations. Open up to a good listener and this will relieve much of the stress you’ve accumulated.
  • As for social media, stay away from it as being bombarded constantly with information and things you could less care about, can leave you more mentally exhausted and drained even without doing much that requires energy.
  • Connect with people or a cause that is meaningful to you. By having an avenue that gets you away from what could be burning you out, you can restore your motivation.
  • Rest. Implement healthy sleeping patterns to give your mind and body time to recharge.
  • Avoid negative people and set boundaries. Learn to say no because you can.
  • Take time off from work. A break can help you find new activities, causes or people to engage with, thus setting you on a journey of recovery.
  •  Nourish your creative side. This is the antidote to burnout.
  • Exercise and eat healthy to restore your physical and mental energy. After all, productivity depends on energy and not time.

Speaking of which; here’s what Genesis will teach you on productivity and personal development.

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