The proliferation of 24/7 internet access and a never ending to-do list can take its toll on body, mind and machine. Is it time for you to take a break from tech?
You might have experienced tech burnout if you work alone since there are no boundaries, no particular working hours and certainly no IT department.
As of October 2015 I’m recovering from general fatigue and a dead PC motherboard.
Too Much Tech
In addition to client web design work, my typical day includes monitoring social media, answering emails, writing white papers, creating training materials, learning software and maintaining a dozen personal WordPress websites.
Then there is the podcasting, video creation, blogging, outreach, link building and online forum participation. When I’m not doing that I’m devising marketing campaigns and attending networking events.
It’s time to take a breath!
Bad Habits & Overworking
If you can afford to hire help, there’s an excellent book about outsourcing by Chris Ducker called Virtual Freedom.
This detailed guide opened my eyes to the dangers of persistent micro managing and the benefits of lightening your load.
Other poor habits I’ve formed relate to repetitive strain injury (RSI) including a painful right hand and lower forearm from mousing.
If you have achy wrists and whatnot, you might want to look at doing some carpel tunnel stretching exercises.
I’ve also had a sore neck from a monitor that is too low down on the desk. This has been remedied by temporarily placing the monitor upon a Michael Palin travel book set.
Burnout & Reset
It’s not just my own physical health that is being worn down.
Burnout has affected the hardware devices too. When you’re using computers and powering up devices daily, the lifespan of the equipment is reduced.
Last week (Tuesday September 29th) the CMOS battery on one of my PCs died.
Usually this would be a simple fix but the battery was welded to the motherboard – which meant having to replace the motherboard at a cost comparable to a new computer.
Without my main machine, I felt anxious. Thankfully I had backed up my data regularly to my Seagate USB storage device so I was able to mitigate the consequences of what felt like losing a limb!
A new computer was ordered the same day and the old one was cannibalised for parts. I had to wait a week for the new baby but downtime was minimal because I have another PC at the ready.
The next day (Wednesday October 1st) I went for a relaxing morning walk in the local woods where I foraged wild apples and edible berries with a friend. This was important because I was able to break some of my programmed habits by escaping the technology prison drudgery.
The simplicity of nature is beneficial, especially when you get to pick free food. Scrumping nature’s garden is my birthright, as far as I’m concerned.
Today (Tuesday 6th October) my new machine arrived. The motherboard features a shiny, vastly superior Intel CPU compared to the previous bog standard AMD CPU.
Below is a photo of me backing up the old solid state drive which already has a Windows disk error at bootup.
I’m grabbing all the data before the thing fails completely. It’s awful slow.
Are You Busy? Wrong Question
If you’re like me, you’re “on” all the time. Switching “off” feels weird because you’ve formed the habit of being busy.
It’s interesting to notice people always ask the question, “Are you busy?” as though a “yes” response is a mark of success. To be busy is to imply security for your job by placing a favourable spin on overworking.
The question should instead be: “Are you productive?” or “Are you profitable?”
In the early days of learning web design, I would stay up till around 5am every night pushing myself to gain the knowledge needed to master CSS, WordPress et al. I’d frequently forget about mealtimes and rarely saw family or friends.
Apparently, it takes 21 days to form a habit but I estimate I lived this way for about 500 days straight. Not good! I’ve since cut down on the silly hours.
What I Did On My Weekend Off 🙂
This last Saturday gone (3rd October) I decided to return to a hobby I love: music composition.
I dug out some composition software from an old CD and made 10 minutes of ambience to help me sleep.
Take a listen below:
If you’re a one man band, lone wolf, free agent, consultant, whatever – you might be at risk of burnout. A department of one is overwhelming.
I’ve been enjoying the revitalising effects of regular exercise to make up for long hours staring at a screen.
Every Friday an hour of intense, sweaty cardio hits my reset button and guarantees an excellent night’s sleep.
Each exercise session leaves me feeling so fresh, I imagine I’ve put myself though the human equivalent of the Windows disk defragmenter.
Other analogies include a completed rubix cube or perfect game of Tetris.
How do you release tension, relax and give yourself a break from technology when it is so pervasive?