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Damage Control; Or, 5 Things I Tried This Week

“I am this close to burnout,” I said to Paul as we were driving back home from his mother’s house last Monday. We were just 18 days into 2016–the mythical “Blue Monday”–but between parenting both our parents since Thanksgiving (one way or another) while observing the holidays with our kids and trying not to let our work go undone, I’ve been feeling a bit crisp around the edges. This week, I tried a few things that I hoped would slow the burn, and I think I managed some damage control.

fireplace alight
This is not what “burnout” looks like

Slowing the Burn: 5 things I tried this week

  • The biggest change I made, and the one that felt the most truly productive, was getting to work at 6 AM two days this week. Winchester goes to dog daycare on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and dropping him off there gets me on the way to work late, which dumps me into the worst of the morning rush hour and gets me to the office in a cranky and irritable state. This week, I did a couple of hours of work from home on those mornings before we left the house, which let me miss most of the traffic jam and allowed me to arrive at the office feeling accomplished instead of already behind. If none of my coworkers complain, I think this is going to be my new Tuesday/Thursday schedule.
  • I ate yogurt for lunch instead of breakfast two days this week.
  • I was out of the office at a training on Wednesday. The training was held at a public library, which was located next to a pond. During our lunch break, I sat outside by the water and read a book.
east los angeles civic center
What January in Los Angeles looks like…
sunrise after rain
…unless it looks like this
  • Before my editors and I agreed that I’d be taking a few months off from doing book reviews for Shelf Awareness, I received four promising February galleys, and I’m reading all of them deadline-free. I’ve already finished one, and I’ve spent more time this week with the second than I did with blogs or social media.
  • And although my diminished, distracted energy level has me feeling more inclined to read books than write about them at the moment, I have signed up to participate in Book Blogger Appreciation Week next month, and am so happy that it’s making a comeback!

I guess I’m lucky not to be burnt out–or snowed in!–by winter weather, at least. How is January treating you?

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10 comments

  1. We’re going through a period of life with a lot of health concerns that involve major adjustments to lifestyle, and I’m feeling a bit burnt out with trying to figure it all out and adjust my parameters accordingly. I am reading a lot more during this time, because reading helps me calm down and seems to stabilize my crazy thoughts. Here’s hoping life cools off for both of us!

    1. Amen to that! Good luck with all of your lifestyle changes–I hope you adjust to them soon and they yield good results! I’m finding something similar for myself–when it comes to settling myself, books still do the trick.

  2. I’m glad you were able to find some strategies to deal with potential burn out. The work adjustment seems like a really smart idea — I love that offices are starting to embrace more flexible work styles that make life easier. Your lunchtime reading looks beautiful. It’s been too cold here to be outside much, but we’re supposed to get some “warmer” weather by the end of the week, so I’m thinking a walk outside will help ease some of my fraying edges as well.

    1. One thing about having a dog and not having a yard is that daily outdoor walks have to happen no matter what the weather–and given that, I’m grateful for Southern California weather :-)! I wish that lunchtime reading spot was closer to my office, but I’m OK trading it for some work-from-home time.

      (Also, you and I need to discuss smoothing some of our fraying edges in Chicago in May!)

  3. I can semi-relate to feeling burned out, although only for a few days (so far) with taking care of an ailing parent. A change in schedule can be good as I’m about to find out next week as my schedule changes with the addition of a new coworker (filling the position of a deceased coworker). I’ll be able to have a couple nights free instead of working which will be good so I’ll be able to see Kim and we might be able to go to some events in town once in a while.

  4. You’re wise to make some adjustments to put your own oxygen mask on first! I have to ask — how did eating yogurt at lunch instead of breakfast make a difference? (Also, thanks for the link to BBAW – that seems really interesting and I will follow!)