Happy December everyone! Ss we arrive at the end of the year, it’s a nice time to look back and take stock of the last 12 months.
Working in tech can be stressful and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with it all. We work so hard to implement ways to make our output so productive using sprints and agile mythologies, we never stop to think the impact that this level of productivity may be taking. Outside of the office, there is an avalanche of information to keep up with – books, articles, videos, tutorials…
There are times when I feel overwhelmed with it all, and I’m sure there are others out there with similar feelings from time to time. So I wanted to outline actionable ideas that can save you from burning out.
Here is how I deal with feeling overwhelmed or fatigued by the tech scene.
1. Mental Stock-Take
When I worked in retail, every few months we would do a stock-take – what stock was moving, and what wasn’t. What would be sent back to suppliers, what could go in a sale, and what would we reorder. Think of your goals and projects as ‘mental stock’.
Write down everything that is going on in your head. The items you are concerned about, stress at work or ideas for products, current side projects – everything. Write it all down, and then prioritise. It’s a great way to show yourself everything you have taken on. Now – with your list – start to prioritise. What are the A and B things you need to work on, and what can you eliminate?
This is a great technique for showing yourself just how much you have going on, and giving yourself permission to either postpone some things and focus on what is important for right now.
2. Goal Audit
Since I got into using Trello to manage tasks, I have the tendency to take it a bit far. Boards for life goals, short term goals, daily tasks… However you choose to manage tasks is up to you, but instead of allowing goals and ideas to pile up, take time to do an audit.
Similar to step 1, take account of everything you hope to work on right now, and eliminate the things that are behaving as ‘mental clutter’. If you have ideas of things you want to work on, write them in a list for the future, then forget about them. Focus on what is important for today.
In addition to clearing up your to-do list, set up boundaries for things that you agree to. It’s important to say ‘no’ when you just don’t have capacity to work on something for a friend or relative. The trick is to say ‘yes’ to the person, and ‘no’ to the task. I’ve outlined the steps on how you can say ‘no’ more in this article.
3. Unsubscribe from Certain Newsletters
Someone on telly once described this as being the digital equivalent of ‘taking out the bins’ and he’s absolutely right. Give the old inbox a good clear out by unsubscribing from the newsletters that may take you in a different direction.
I have a tendency to sign up for lots of emails about a particular topic – like entrepreneurship. Then, these emails start to pile up. They all have the similar sense of urgency about them, aggressively asking me to click on a link to read an article or watch a video.
4. Make Time For You
God that sounds so cheesy – but don’t worry, I’m not going to recommend bubble baths.
Last year, I got a playstation. Is it a productive use of my time? No, but not everything needs to be. If you’re not into games, try putting time aside for a trip to the cinema, bake, meet friends for dinner or check out a gig. Get outside, go for a hike, go to the local coffee shop and read… Anything to take your mind off work and away from screens for a few hours.
Failing to plan is planning to fail, so it can be best to schedule in this down-time. Arrange to meet people, book the cinema or concert tickets – be as proactive about your down-time as you would about organising any other project.
Believe me, I would have scoffed at this one a few years back. But now going for a short run or swimming for an hour really helps me to clear my head.
These are the techniques I’ve been able to use when I feel overwhelmed or stressed with the tech space.
We can’t be 100% career focused all of the time – but no one would expect you to. In order to be productive during work hours, it’s important to shut down and just coast for a while – even if it’s just at the weekends.
As always, if you have any other ideas on how to deal with feeling overwhelmed, I would love to hear from you. Give me a shout over email or on twitter.