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I was too burned out to name this talk


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Learn about how to identify burnout and recover from it.

Published in: Self Improvement
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I was too burned out to name this talk

  1. 1. I was too burned out to name this talk (but we will talk about overcoming burnout anyway) Major Hayden @majorhayden Texas Linux Fest - June 1, 2019 Photo: David MarkTitle credit: Jerry Chen @jcsalterego
  2. 2. Major Hayden Principal Software Engineer, Red Hat 🤖 Kernel testing automator (CKI Project) 😺 Maintainer of 📻 Ham radio operator (W5WUT) 🤦‍♂ Hoarder of domain names
  3. 3. Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. Burnout, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can be serious for certain people at certain times. If you know someone who is struggling, please be the help they need or get help for them. If you are struggling, do not work through it alone. Get help from a trusted friend or professional.
  4. 4. Startups are challenging environments Photo: Erdenebayar Bayansan
  5. 5. Your sphere of control Spheres of control in startups What your company does “I have a large effect on the direction of my company. It’s great!” 😀
  6. 6. Spheres of control in startups Your company’s market “But no matter what I do, we are still a tiny fish in a big pond.” 😔
  7. 7. Big companies are different, but the same Photo: Daniel Tuttle
  8. 8. Your sphere of control Spheres of control in big companies What your company division does “I play a large part in my section of the company! 😀”
  9. 9. Spheres of control in big companies Your company “But no matter what I do, our company keeps sinking.” 😔
  10. 10. Anecdotes are great, but what is burnout? We can’t fight it if we can’t define it.
  11. 11. Burnout is an interpersonal phenomenon. Photo: Michael Lokner
  12. 12. Burnout is a product of the interactions and relationships between people.
  13. 13. “A clear link has been found between a lack of control and burnout.” “On the contrary, when employees have the perceived capacity to influence decisions that affect their work, to exercise professional autonomy, and to gain access to the resources necessary to do an effective job, they are more likely to experience job engagement.” -- World Psychiatry, Official Journal of the World Psychiatric Association
  14. 14. Some industries are burnout prone by their very nature, such as IT, Photo: Tristan Schmurr
  15. 15. Photo: Skitterphoto information security,
  16. 16. Photo: TheEssexTech and emergency medicine.
  17. 17. “It’s hard to do a job where you do a really good job but then have bad outcomes. You get into those “what ifs”. If you can’t shut it off, it’s really hard.” -- Rachel, Physician Assistant
  18. 18. Being busy is not a fix for burnout. Photo: Wikipedia
  19. 19. “Here’s how the busyness paradox works: When we’re busy and have that high-octane, panicked feeling that time is scarce — what one participant called the “sustained moment of hecticness” through the work day — our attention and ability to focus narrows. [Researchers] call this phenomenon ‘tunneling’.” -- “Preventing Busyness from Becoming Burnout” Harvard Business Review
  20. 20. Photo: Photorama We lose up to 13-14 IQ points while stuck in the busyness paradox. Source: Scientific American Mind, Jan/Feb 2014
  21. 21. Are you burned out? Check your behavior against these three stages:
  22. 22. Stage 1: Emotional Exhaustion Negative attitude is common Physically/mentally exhausted Source: EMSWORLD
  23. 23. Stage 2: Depersonalization People around you “deserved what they got” Subverting other people Dehumanization Source: EMSWORLD
  24. 24. Stage 3: Loss of satisfaction/accomplishment No love for the work or workers Loathing the workplace Feeling stagnant Source: EMSWORLD
  25. 25. Photo: skeeze How do we recover from burnout?
  26. 26. Embrace constructive behaviors Constructive: ● Share your feelings with other people. ● Transform feelings into something tangible, such as artwork, humor, writing. ● Take time off. ● Have healthy interactions with other people. Destructive: ● Consume drugs or excessive amounts of alcohol. ● Put barriers up around yourself. ● Avoid sharing any feelings. ● Give into the suffering. ● Believe that you deserve to be burned out.
  27. 27. Three paths to recovery: Get in Get up Get out
  28. 28. Photo: pxhere Get in: Recommit to your work
  29. 29. Get in: Recommit to your work This works when: ● You enjoy what you do and you enjoy your coworkers, but you are burned out. ● You find yourself saying “the only reason I stay is for the people.” What you do: ● Talk honestly with your manager. ● Identify areas where you want more control/autonomy (and how that provides value). ● Find ways to be more open with your manager/coworkers before problems become a big source of stress.
  30. 30. Photo: rawpixel Get up: Take a break
  31. 31. Get up: Take a break and examine options This works when: ● You enjoy some of what you do, but you do not feel fulfilled. ● You are trapped in the “busyness paradox.” What you do: ● Take real time off and do something YOU enjoy. ● Don’t do nothing (you will end up thinking about work). ● Think about what work makes your soul feel good. ● Consider other roles (up, down, sideways) to get onto a better path.
  32. 32. Photo: LEEROY Agency Get out: Leave your job behind
  33. 33. Get out: Leave your job behind This works when: ● You love the the work you do, but you do not want to keep doing it for your company. ● When you disagree with your company’s direction. ● Your coworkers have created a hostile work environment that cannot be repaired. What you do: ● Get your finances in check. ● Give yourself some time off to detach. ● Seek out friends who do what you like at other companies. ● Never burn bridges, rage quit, scorch the earth or leave abruptly. (You may need these connections later.)
  34. 34. If you don’t remember anything else from this talk, then at least remember this: The only way out of an interpersonal problem is through help from other people.
  35. 35. Keep the lines of communication honest. Keep the lines of communication open.
  36. 36. Rats subjected to chronic stress recovered after four weeks of rest and relaxation. Human medical students did it in four weeks, too. Source: “Burnout and the Brain” from Association for Psychological Science
  37. 37. Burnout is not the end.
  38. 38. Thank you! Major Hayden @majorhayden Photo: David Mark
  39. 39. Additional reading Collopy, Kevin T. “Are You Under Stress in EMS?”. EMSWORLD. October 2012. Maslach, Christina and Leiter, Michael P. “Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry.” World Psychiatry. June 2016. Michel, Alexandra. “Burnout and the Brain.” Observer. February 2016. Mullainathan, Sendhil and Shafir, Eldar. “Freeing up intelligence.” Scientific American Mind. January/February 2014. Schulte, Brigid. “Preventing Busyness from Becoming Burnout.” Harvard Business Review. April 2019.