I made two New Years’ resolutions this year: to start blogging here again, and to get 20-30 active minutes per day on my Fitbit. (Yes, I know Big Data is reading my Fitbit. Librarians come in two varieties: those who are extremely paranoid about Big Data and those who are extremely un-paranoid. I am the second flavor.)
That means returning to thinking about what particular vocation-related question is plaguing me this week. Since it’s in the news, I settled on burnout. I am not a millennial, but I am certainly suffering from burnout (it’s one reason, though not the only one, that it’s been eight months since I last posted here.)
Just as Anne Helen Petersen says in the BuzzFeed article, I feel like I ought to be working all the time. You can blame technology for this – certainly it’s made it worse, as I spend way too much time looking at my email on my phone and have been convicted about it ever since I read this article. But honestly, I got burned out eleven years ago when I had no internet at my house and went in to campus to use the Web for three hours a day. I got burned out thirty years ago when we had typewriters. I was Type A before it was a thing and I am congenitally unable to stop treating every moment like a to-do list. Modern social media and smartphones just make it worse.
So let me tell you what I did between Christmas Day and New Years’ Day. I didn’t turn my computer on. I checked email once a day on the phone (because one of my gigs required it. Life with a multitude of gigs may well be the subject of my next post.) I slept in a lot. I read a completely frivolous book about the Dakota apartment building in New York, and I read parts of Lord of the Rings, which I always begin reading on the first Sunday in Advent every year. I ate Christmas cookies and listened to Christmas music (Christmas ends on January 6, folks.) I drank coffee and tea. I wrote no articles, managed no websites, read no books that I needed to review, and ran no church services. And on January 2, I felt refreshed and almost-kind-of-sort-of ready to do all my jobs again.
Was it enough? No. Was it a start? Yes. (Hence my being back.) Was it terribly hard and not very encouraged by the social systems around me? Absolutely. Do I still ignore my Toggl timer when it says to take a break? Yes. Will my new resolution (I’m not sure it reaches the status of a Resolution) to not check my email on weekends hold? We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.