Over the weekend I came across an article titled “Smartphones are the New Cigarettes.” Curious, to see if the article was clickbait or something more, I well, clicked on it. I found myself mostly in agreement with the author and felt the sting of annoyance. The gist of the article is that smartphones are addictive and thanks to them, it has become harder for people to concentrate on tasks. This is me in a nutshell, and my annoyance stems from wanting to fight back and reclaim my concentration. Then I realized that concentration has always been a  personal struggle for much of the time. When it wasn’t my smartphone I was usually distracted by something else. In college it was my computer (and early social media sites like LiveJournal), in high school it was TV and/or video games. Sometimes I wonder how I accomplished anything.

As I think about distraction more, I realize that getting distracted is easy because I perceive starting a task to be difficult. In my mind getting started on a task is very much like pushing a boulder. Once the task is started, rolling a giant rock isn’t so bad and there are even areas of inspiration and motivation where the rock just seems to fly down the hill. Of course, getting started on that task is the real killer. Every day isn’t the same. There are days when I’m extremely productive and distraction isn’t an issue. There are other days where I barely budge and the entire day is filled with distraction.

About two weeks ago I was on vacation from my night job. While I worked during the day, at night I couldn’t muster the will to complete the personal tasks I set out for myself. Play video games? Nope. Upgrade my personal website? Nada. Do some spring cleaning around the house? No. I just felt burned out and slept a lot while on vacation. Oddly enough, once my vacation was over I felt more productive at work. A combination of allowing myself to do nothing, while feeling frustrated that I should have done more ironically spurned me into being more mindful of my time after my vacation.

 

The moral of this story is to be wary of creeping burnout and not being afraid to take time off when needed. Fortunately, I have another vacation coming up near the end of this month and I plan to take time off from both jobs.

Have you ever become burned out without realizing it?

Boulders by Mark Doliner of Flickr

Boulders by Mark Doliner of Flickr

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