The reason I’ve been away from this blog so long is actually the topic that brings me back to it: burnout.

Burnout is something I’ve dealt with off and on since high school.  I get charged up and motivated for a goal, take on a lot of projects and responsibilities, and feel great for a while.  But over time I start to lose my joy in it, and I get tired and cynical about it. 

I had hoped that it wouldn’t happen this time around, as my life is filled with people and activities that I really love and care about.  What I’m finding though, is that a sense of mission is not an antidote to burnout.  I personally love the idea of being on the go all the time, energized and engaged in as many things as possible, always pushing toward a goal.  I’m still learning how to make that attitude sustainable.

My boss approached me at work today and let me know that I was approved to participate on a committee that I had asked to become involved in.  She was concerned about whether I’ve taken on too much.  (Her actual words were “We want to make sure you’re not going to keel over on us.”)  I’m hard pressed to respond to that.  I never feel like I’m doing enough, although between school, work and regular life I’m stretched pretty thin.  I get frustrated that I can’t do all the things that I would like to do, particularly because I feel like I should be capable of doing them.

I’m attempting to find a way to make all of this work.  I think the keys will be organization and efficiency.  I will freely admit to allowing myself to get bogged down by two things: obligation and emotion.  I allow my tasks to stress me out, so they become scary, and I spend too long procrastinating and too long doing prep work that probably isn’t necessary. 

I’m trying out a new organizational scheme that allots me a certain amount of time each day for all the things I need to do.  This includes mundane things that usually get forgotten, like doing dishes and packing a lunch.  It also includes a finite amount of time for homework.  My hope is that if I stick to a rigid schedule, I’ll actually end up doing more than if I pack in several hours in one night because overall I will avoid classwork less.  I also hope that my stress level will go down due to having everything I need to remember written out.

Librarians and other professionals: how do you recommend taking full advantage of the opportunities in your life and career, and doing your best work, while maintaining your life’s balance?

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