Article: On Burnout

by on August 12, 2017

Much of the time, I try to keep the content on this site separate from my day-job. There’s no real intentional reason other than the overlap is rather small between Apple-centric news, my tech opinion articles, or linked posts, and what I do that brings in a paycheck, network administration. Besides that, even across numerous jobs, and college before that, running this site has always been something that I enjoy, rather than just more work.

Typically, when work does pick up a bit, postings tend to slow down here, and vice-versa. I think that’s pretty natural for a side project to get attention when you have the mental energy to devote to it. Furthermore, there are some days that I don’t want to see or think about something that lights up or plugs in when I get home from work. While I enjoy both, I started to think about colleagues who do web development or consulting on the side, and started questioning if I was just not ambitious or leaving money on the table.

Instead, that led to thoughts about downtime, unwinding, and most importantly, how computers have become so unappealing to me. I love technology, but things like a hard drive replacement or undoing Windows problems outside of work are about the last thing I’d put on a list of fun ways to spend an afternoon. Macs used to be the exception, but as popularity has grown, it’s often led to some cringeworthy troubleshooting for someone that is still trying to treat it like a Windows machine. If it is a recent Windows-convert, sometimes a quick fix snowballs into questions about every.little.thing. I appreciate that they have decided to try something new and think once acclimiated, they will find the Mac experience to be pretty good, but I can’t substitute for the great training that Apple does at their retail stores.

That’s not to say that I don’t have sympathy for those who are less comfortable with technology or want to help, but I’ve also been inadvertently punished and end up grouchier and more frustrated than if I referred them to someone who would actually be paid for the services they required (Apple Store, local repair shop, Google, etc.) Perhaps my modus operandi has shifted back towards less helpful for things that aren’t in my immediate job description and this site, but I’m slowly feeling a little less burnt out.

I sort of come back to the baseline that it would seem out of place for someone to ask their doctor friend about every little medical issue, or a mechanic friend to fix automotive issues without paying a bill, so why should it be any different with someone who has an interest or career in technology fields? I’ve even had some acquaintances want to bring me their broken computer, as though putting things back in working order would be something I’d just enjoy, like a puzzle. Clogged up 16GB iPhones full of photos seem to be the other larger-scale project that somehow I should be able to wave a magic wand with. Typically, the idea of managing photos or spending the 99¢/month and turning on iCloud Photo Library both seem to be tall orders, and somehow I should know a third option.

That’s not to say I don’t mind being asked advice—I recognize that I do have experience with some things and certainly can take a second or two to share a thought. I’d like to think that I’m walking that fine line of helpful and not hurting myself.

Like that fine line, I hope this post was on the fine line of complaining and offering some caution. Maybe you related to one or more of the instances I’ve provided, and this can serve as a bit of a reminder to take time for yourself. It’s really easy to get bogged down with your day job, and then get things piled on your plate from friends and acquaintances because you’re “the computer person” and you might feel obligated to help because you’re being nice. You can politely decline or serve as a referral agent, and if you do want to do a little side consulting, it’ll feel opt-in, rather than something you have to do. Furthermore, this may help reduce the burn out, in that technology will once again be the mix of things you have to do and things you want to do.

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