The Freelancers’ Show 059 – Overcoming Burnout

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Panel Eric Davis (twitter github blog) Ashe Dryden (twitter github blog) Evan Light (twitter github blog) Jim Gay (twitter github blog) Charles Max Wood (twitter github Teach Me To Code Rails Ramp Up) Discussion 01:13 - Coping with Burnout Taking up hobbies Outside job stressors Exercise 07:21 - Overcommitting 09:59 - Expectations Having children Setting boundaries PPC Principle = Production vs Production Capacity (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey) 16:32 - Work/Life Balance Your personal definition of relaxation 20:26 - Depression 22:27 - Coping Mechanisms Partner support Talking through it 29:43 - Preventing Burnout Don’t push your limits Regrets of the Dying Frustration Driven Development by Evan D. Light Picks Slate Magazine | Boston bombing breaking news: Don't watch cable. Shut of Twitter. You'd be better off cleaning your gutters. (Eric) Happier (Evan) Happy: The Movie (Evan) Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin E. P. Seligman (Evan) If You're Too Busy to Meditate, Read This - Peter Bregman (Evan) A Wet Towel In Space Is Not Like A Wet Towel On Earth (Ashe) Mou (Markdown App) (Ashe) No Equipment? No Excuses: 20 Exercises You Can Do At Home (Ashe) My Best Mistake: Too Much Success - Gary Vaynerchuk (Jim) Unplugging the TV (Jim) Battlestar Galactica (Chuck) Downton Abbey (Chuck) Downton Abbey at 54 Below - Season 4, Episode 1 Sneak Peek (Chuck) @freelancershow (Chuck) Next Week Project Management Transcript CHUCK: Alright, I'm still adjusting volume here. JIM: Am I too loud? EVAN: Oh, no! But, you're way too deep... [laughter][hosting and bandwidth provided by the blue box group. check them out at] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 59 of the Freelancers Show! This week on our panel we have, Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello! CHUCK: Ashe Dryden. ASHE: Hello! CHUCK: Evan Light. EVAN: Hellooo! CHUCK: Jim Gay. JIM: Hello! CHUCK: I'm Charles Max Wood from This week's topic is going to be "Dealing with Burnout". Just to give you a little bit of background, I actually chose this topic because I am dealing with burnout. Anyway, I thought it'd be interesting to talk about it to see if you guys experience this and -- EVAN: No, never! Ever! JIM: Alright, it's been fun! [laughter] EVAN: That's it. CHUCK: I'm totally burned out on these guys, I'm leaving. EVAN: You have a nice model object. CHUCK: [laughs] Anyway, I got off this project a couple of weeks ago, and I don't know! I just haven't been able to really sit down and want to write code. And, it was really hard for me because I was burned out all through the month of most Ruby Conference. I enjoyed talking to people, but usually I wind up messing around with code and stuff during the conference and I'll come home and go the whole bunch. I really enjoy writing code! And, I'm really not enjoying writing code...And so, I was wondering what you guys do to cope with this kind of thing? EVAN: [inaudible][laughter] EVAN: I'm serious! I just work a little bit less and maybe I don't produce many hours and maybe I spend more time doing complete things that have nothing to do with the computer. ASHE: Yeah. A couple of years ago, I had a really bad case of burnout. It probably last to close to a year. I just hated doing work every single day and I started picking up hobbies. I had nothing to do with sitting in a computer like I picked up meeting, which for most people who know me like I'm not like a very domestic does-curly-girl-type thing, so picking up meeting was kind of different for me, which I love doing now and I really enjoy doing that; rode my bike more, spent more time outside. I was trying to get like my work-life balance back in order, so it's only working a maximum of 8 hours a day. [Chuck laughs]


CHUCK: Alright, I'm still adjusting volume here. JIM: Am I too loud? EVAN: Oh, no! But, you're way too deep... [laughter] [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 59 of the Freelancers Show! This week on our panel we have, Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello! CHUCK: Ashe Dryden. ASHE: Hello! CHUCK: Evan Light. EVAN: Hellooo! CHUCK: Jim Gay. JIM: Hello! CHUCK: I'm Charles Max Wood from This week's topic is going to be "Dealing with Burnout". Just to give you a little bit of background, I actually chose this topic because I am dealing with burnout. Anyway, I thought it'd be interesting to talk about it to see if you guys experience this and -- EVAN: No, never! Ever! JIM: Alright, it's been fun! [laughter] EVAN: That's it. CHUCK: I'm totally burned out on these guys, I'm leaving. EVAN: You have a nice model object. CHUCK: [laughs] Anyway, I got off this project a couple of weeks ago, and I don't know! I just haven't been able to really sit down and want to write code. And, it was really hard for me because I was burned out all through the month of most Ruby Conference. I enjoyed talking to people, but usually I wind up messing around with code and stuff during the conference and I'll come home and go the whole bunch. I really enjoy writing code! And, I'm really not enjoying writing code...And so, I was wondering what you guys do to cope with this kind of thing? EVAN: [inaudible][laughter] EVAN: I'm serious! I just work a little bit less and maybe I don't produce many hours and maybe I spend more time doing complete things that have nothing to do with the computer. ASHE: Yeah. A couple of years ago, I had a really bad case of burnout. It probably last to close to a year. I just hated doing work every single day and I started picking up hobbies. I had nothing to do with sitting in a computer like I picked up meeting, which for most people who know me like I'm not like a very domestic does-curly-girl-type thing, so picking up meeting was kind of different for me, which I love doing now and I really enjoy doing that; rode my bike more, spent more time outside. I was trying to get like my work-life balance back in order, so it's only working a maximum of 8 hours a day. [Chuck laughs] EVAN: I'd also suggest that there's another possibility, too, that it might not actually have anything to do with coding itself. Maybe, there's something else in your life that is out of order and it just happens to be affecting your day job. For me, I found that to be entirely normal that my job might be A-Ok and I'm just not having as much fun with it, but it's because there's something else outside of my job that is making me uncomfortable. And if I resolve that, then everything else tends to get by. CHUCK: Yeah, I think that's a lot of what I'm going through. I'm kind of curious to see what Jim and Eric have to suggest before I really dig into some of the things that I've been doing. JIM: Well for me, I remember when I was in college in my graphics design program and I was doing a lot of stuff on the computer, and I actually almost switch to being a ceramics major. I would spend my time in the ceramics studio using my hands and not sitting in front of a computer screen, and I really want to get back to it. I have 4 kids now, so they tend to take up a lot of my free time and I haven't done it a long time. But, I absolutely love to being able to physically manipulate things and not have to sit and move things around and just sit thinking. So, even just getting up and [inaudible] things out, writing a story about something, but physically doing something, for me, it helps me kind of break through a barrier when I'm feeling burned out on something. CHUCK: That's interesting. It sounds a lot like what Ashe was saying just with meeting; it's something that doesn't really gauge your mind the same way. It's just something that kind of gives you some amount of space while you're doing something with your hands. JIM: Yeah. I also did a lot of, at the last house that I own, I did a lot of renovation. Doing the stuff I liked, I would get compliments from people on the work that I've done, but I would read about something for like 6 weeks before I ever intended it. So, it was researching problem solving in same kind of things that you do in programming, but then I was able to actually "Alright, let's start knocking down walls and wiring things", things like that. CHUCK: Yeah, I get that. Eric, do you deal with this? ERIC: Yeah. I get kind of mild cases of burnout quite a bit; I'm actually kind of going through it right now. I kind of do a mix with what Jim and Evan said where, like Evan, I basically reduce my workload and for me, I try not to code all the time like I do a lot of writing, a lot of marketing stuff. So, I'm not really deep in code and so if I do burnout, I can just kind of change the ratio of how much code to write an ideal in that sense to help. But, I've had a project or two where it just was so intense that when it was done, I would make out a break and I would have to take a couple days off and just do nothing like basically read a couple of books, mostly fiction books, watch Netflix, just lounger on the house and be a bum for a week or two. Surprisingly, after a week of that, you kind of get annoyed and like "Okay, I want to go create something again". And by that time, I'm out of the burnout and able to get back into it. Another thing that works really good for me is, just moving like exercise and stuff like that. So last year, I was running, think about everyday for about half an hour to an hour, and no matter how tired or burned out I was from the day before, that half hour run was like enough to get me energized to go through it again the next day. And, I kept that at the entire time until I actually injure myself, but that's a whole different note. CHUCK: Yeah. Some of the things that I have been doing is mostly what you guys have said. The big thing that made the difference for me the other day was actually I did go for a roam; I went for a roam for about an hour. And, I'm pretty sworn out because I hadn't collected that for a while, and I think that's probably part of my problem. But, I felt a lot better that afternoon and I did actually get a few [inaudible] of work in before I was just came onto this...Need to throw out my hands real quick... EVAN: As someone who doesn't exercise often enough, I know for a fact [inaudible], exercise is just great for eating stress, just general stress. When I do it regularly, even if it's just every other day, I'm just generally happy across the board. CHUCK: Yeah. I think a lot of us saw that way. The other thing is that, this project that I was on, it just suck up a lot of time. And I have a lot of other things going under me; I'm going to record 4 podcasts during the week, I've been doing this Ruby on Rails Course, and things like that. As you can imagine, I've been pretty busy, and that's been a lot of it, too. I just feel overwhelmed, so I don't even want to come into my office and sit down because I have so much stuff going on. ERIC: Oh, that's kind of, for me at least, I found that's kind of a source of a lot of my burnout; basically overcommitting. I don't remember, it's [inaudible] who have said it, but basically if someone's asking you to make a new commitment, like in your case, Chuck, like the new podcast, it's either a "Hell, yes I'll do that!" or it's a "No!" And basically, I think about that one whenever I look at like new projects or new products, and I kind of use that as a gauge like "How committed am I to this idea because I know I'm going to overcommit again and that's going to cause me to burnout". That's actually helped me for the past 6 or 8 months to kind of not put too much on my plate; not to overcommit. ASHE: Yeah. I think that sense of being overwhelmed by things definitely contributes a lot to me feeling burnt out. I moved a couple of years ago from Lucky to Madison; one of the things that I did was I kind of like pulled back from doing any kind of community organizing or conference organizing. And, just not having people demanding things of me all the time, make huge difference for me. CHUCK: Yeah, I think that's a big part of it. What I'm planning on doing this afternoon is actually clearing off my white board and just writing down all the things that I think I need to do and then basically just say "Well, I can do this one, and this one, or this one", and just decide what I'm going to commit to and then everything else is just put on hold. In that way, I don't feel so ruin because it's like "Look, I only really have this two or three things going on." ERIC: Yeah. One thing I want out of a book was to kind of look at your life as like a puzzle. Each component of your life is a puzzle piece, and some parts, like family, might be a bigger one than, say, exercise, or work, or whatever. But, they kind of come up with a system where you have 6 large puzzle pieces. And like for me, I know work takes about 2 pieces because it's such a big aspect, and you only have 6, and you can only work on 6 size things at a time. And if you need to do something else, you got to need to stop on something, tell someone "I'm not going to do this thing already", or you need to kind of shuffle things around like scale back on work in order to do more podcast. And, ever since that I've had on my wall basically 6 3x5 cards colored by like my work life or my personal life, basically, whenever I get really stressed out, I look up there and figure out like "Is that something that's on those 6 cards?" If it's not, I just try to ignore or try to get rid of that new commitment. That's work pretty well, too. Six seems to be a good amount that you feel you can do enough, but also not enough to actually overwhelm you. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. JIM: The other thing that comes to my mind, as I'm listening to everybody, is changing expectations; going to your client or clients and saying "I'm going to burnout!" and just being honest with them. I often feel like I have to always perform and I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure that I'm delivering as much as possible at every minute of every hour. But ultimately, everybody's human and everyone's going to understand, or at least should, if they're going to be your client, should understand that you need to take care of your health and there's no way you're going to be a good resource for them or good developer or anything if you're feeling like you're going to collapse at the end of the day or week. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I think it's a better way to go than just kind of flaming out on them where it's just like "Okay, well why haven't you worked for the last week?" "Well...", if you can tell them upfront "I'm heading for a cliff". JIM: Yeah. ERIC: I've done that with one client where I told them, "I'm doing a bunch of work for you. When this contract's over, I'm not going to be able to do this much and it's either I'm not going to be able to [inaudible] at all if you have to have this quantity, or I can work at a limited schedule of you". And I told them that "It's just, I can't sustain this and run my business and all the other things that are not specifically for you". And, they understood and they're actually okay with actually reducing the commitment. And so, that actually helped me out, and they still got some help from me. JIM: One thing that I've noticed is -- I was on a project where there were some death marches going on; things had to be completed by a certain day and are just impossible feat -- that having children actually changes people's perception of your needs. So, regardless of the fact that other developers didn't have children are sort of got to pass because of it say, "Hey, I've got kids, I'm not going to stay here all weekend and work on this project", which was great for me, but is bad in general. I think, people naturally react to that and say "Oh well, he's got a family/she's got a family". But ultimately, we all need to be healthy and we all need to be in top shape to perform. I'm actually, on my next project, I'm going to be upfront and say "Look, I'm going to take naps. I may disappear in the afternoon and be gone for 20 minutes or 30 minutes, it's so that I could perform better. So if you have problem with that, then I don't think it's going to work out". Or, say "I'm going be in late because I got to go for a run", or something like that. But as long as the communication is still happening with the team, I want to make it clear to everybody that my health is really important for me to be able to perform my job. And, I want to encourage that with the rest of the team as well. EVAN: To add on there something you said there, Jim, I tell all my clients about Kim, about my wife. And so, they understand when I tell them that my work day typically ends at 6 pm sharp because I have to go play caregiver after that. And, they understand sometimes I may be more burned out because of that. I don't see it as making excuses; I think you hit the nail on the head at the beginning of what you were saying that it's really about setting expectations. And frankly, it's also about setting boundaries, and it's critical that we set boundaries. Otherwise, the clients will treat you as you're always available whenever they're working. And, that just usually isn't so unless you happen to be on the site with them and they can see when you're working. ASHE: The other thing, too, is that, setting up those boundaries isn't unreasonable and you shouldn't feel like you're being mean, or that you are not providing as full service to a client as somebody else would. Because you're doing not only what's best for you, but it's also what's best for the client. If you're working 12-hour days every single day, they're not getting the best work out of you; you're getting frustrated more easily, you're not able to take care of yourself. So, things in your personal life are slipping, and that stress is going to work its way into your relationship with them one way or another. JIM: I wanted to bring up a point about this, too, particularly for people who are there new to freelancing or inexperienced or something. Because I remember, all types of advices like this like raise your rates and learn to say "No" to things, that setting those expectations changes the way that people respond to you. So, if you're new to freelancing, approaching your work-life balance and saying to your client "There are certain things that I need to do; (for example), I'm feeling burnt out. I need to take care of myself. Otherwise, I'm not going to be able to perform", you're not in a position where you're just whining and you're being selfish. But, there's a greater impact there that your client -- they obviously, I'm sure on a personal level, want you to be healthy -- but, in order for their project to succeed, you need to take care of yourself. And so, if you're starting out, making sure you set those expectations early or as soon as you realized them, is really going to be the best thing for your career in general, I think. EVAN: I keep keying off of what you're saying, Jim. I actually disagree to the extent that I think it is perfectly selfish and at the same time, I don't think that there's anything wrong with that. It's selfish, but it should be important to the client as well. If we are not taking care of ourselves, then we are violating the PPC Principle in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I can't remember what that means exactly or what it stands for, but [inaudible] means is the difference between killing the goose to get the golden egg and then take care of the goose and get more golden eggs over time. We're not going to be able to keep Production versus Production Capacity; we're not going to be able to maintain the same capacity if we don't take care of ourselves. Stepping back further, based on what you said, Jim, and I'm going back to what I said again, I think a lot of with burnout really says or [inaudible] a signal of sort, is just that there is something out of balance in our lives. And again, it might your, but often, it's not work; we just feel it when we're working because, well, working is a very large obligation in our lives that we have to perform on an ongoing basis for several hours a day. So I guess of all the environments, we're going to feel discomfort in work and just probably the one who are most likely to sense it. CHUCK: Yeah, it's really interesting that, I think, what you're saying is really true that things just were totally out of whack. It was out of balance for me mainly because I was spending so much time on work. And I think, things just kind of swung way back the other way once I didn't have that full time commitment anymore; I think that's part of the deal. I'm really considering what hobbies or things that I could pick up that are kind of that, that working with your hands kind of thing, because I think that's really kind of the space that I need to be in. EVAN: At the same time, maybe, you don't need anything new; maybe you just need to spend more time undressing those other parts of your life and less time on the work, too. The reason I suggest that is, like any good experiment, you work with the variables you already have maybe before adding another variable. CHUCK: Yeah, that's also true. ERIC: But, there's also something to say for trying something new and being completely new to something and not -- like we're talking about knitting earlier in the chat, we're talking about crochet. I mean not knowing which end of the crochet hook to whole like for someone who is intelligent, knows programming like at the back of their hand, being at that point where they don't know how even the most basic part of this works where there's like 7-year old 2nd crochet, it's humbling and it kind of makes you think back like "Look, this is just a body of knowledge that I haven't learned yet. There's a whole world out there of things that I can try and experience and learn from". I actually tried to learn crochet and I can't just because of how my hands work; I keep poking myself of things, which I don't know if it's coordination or just the amount of repetitive stress injury from typing on the keyboard, but I tried it. And just the fact of trying it and doing it with my wife for a couple of months, it was really interesting and it's an experience that I'm really happy to have done. ASHE: Yeah, and I think it's important, too. I mean I was talking to Evan how learning something new is hard, but I like it if it kind of puts you back into that beginners mind and helps you remember what it's like to be somebody who's trying something for the first time. And, it's really good for your brain like it helps form new neural pathways so it would actually makes you smarter to learn new things. EVAN: At the same time, maybe, you're also learning enough new things during the day, and relaxation might not include learning something new. It depends. And in which case, maybe, relaxation really means just that: lounging, relaxing, not necessarily challenging yourself more because we usually have lots of challenge during the day in our jobs and with our families and what not already. So, I wouldn't take anything that many of us is saying as a best practice, [laughs] obviously, just for consideration. ERIC: I think the key is just to try a bunch of things. Try, like you said, Evan, like basically relax and just sit on a chair and do nothing about job. And then also, maybe try a lot of physical activity like build a brickwall or go exercise. Try a bunch of things to see how it works! Because burnout is not like one actual source cause the burnout; it was going to be a whole bunch of factors that layered on top of each other. And, maybe exercise is going to help 3 of those factors, 4 of those factors, and maybe you're vegging out it's going to help another 7 or 8. But, you might not actually get over burnout until you actually address them all or doing something that kind of mitigates the role of heaven in your life. JIM: There's also the impact that your personal life might have like, for example, Chuck, I know you've got several kids, I've got several kids, and the thought of like "Oh, let me leave the office early and go home" means you're just kind of maybe overwhelmed with lots of things to do with kids or other family... ERIC: What do you mean, Jim? JIM: [laughs] Sometimes, it may be going to your spouse and saying "Look, I need to just do nothing for one hour. Can I please just go and disappear and not have a responsibility to anyone for an hour?" So, there's also that. CHUCK: Yeah, I can see that. The other thing was that, I think it was to the point where I was actually getting like depressed and physically ill like I didn't feel well; I didn't feel good about myself. It got really bad there for a while. And it's just this week that I'm really kind of coming out of it and feel like I can put in a few hours here or there every day to get things done. Thankfully I had some money put away so that I could take the time off, and I think that's kind of a big deal, too, but it's tricky. I think it's different for everybody. And I think, different times, the different burnouts, it varies as well. JIM: One thing that comes to mind for me is, just having a bunch of people who you can talk with, friends or other freelancers in the same situation, and just [inaudible] about your problem and just complain, sometimes it's good to get as long as those sessions don't last too long; it's just to get some things off your chest. And, feel like there's somebody up there who understands what you're going through is, I find, good. Like any time I've been an employee somewhere, and the company is tanking, and everybody's going to lose their jobs, everybody gets together and complains - that's a good stress reliever. CHUCK: Yeah. ASHE: Yeah. One other things that I did when I was burned out, so many mention balance both work, and I noticed that there were a lot of things that I kept saying "I wish I could do X, I wish I could go to the movies, I wish I was reading more books". So, I made a list of all those things, and then like went out of my way every week to try and do those things. Because sometimes, you think of these things, but right then you don't have the time. But, it made me happy to be able to go and sit in the park for a couple of hours and read a book. Or, be able to go to the movies with friends. CHUCK: Yeah. And that's a big part of it, too. It was that I thought like I'd still, after the contract ended, I still couldn't go and do all that stuff. JIM: So, what are you doing? Or, what did you do? CHUCK: One of the things I did was, I went and just went for a roam for an hour yesterday; that really made a difference. I also spent a few hours yesterday just with my wife and part of it was just sitting around with her. She also wasn't feeling well, so I mean I was also hoping take care of the kids and things so I kind of got spent time with them as well. But yeah, I mean just stuff like that. And I've watched extraordinary amount of Battlestar Galactica, which is still my favorite show of time. Just things like that. And, I've been catching up on sleep, I'm still not there. I'm trying to cutback on my caffeine, and that's not working. But, just different things like that really made a big difference. And I think at this point, like I said before, I just need to list out all the stuff that I'm worrying about and just kind of clear my hat and get it taken care of. The running and things helps with that, but just being able to quantify this, because I think a lot of the rest of what's left to the burnout is actually just overwhelming, and so if I can quantify it and I can cross some things off my list, then I'll start feeling better about it. The other thing that's kind of help and kind of not help at the same time is that I picked up another contract after having two weeks off. It helps in the sense that there's something that I need to be doing, and so it kind of drives me to come in here and sit down and write some code. It does help to do that, but at the same time, it's another thing that adds stress so I think it's a net; it balances out. But anyway, in the long run, I think those are kinds of the things that I'm doing. I'm allowing myself to let some things that maybe important, but less important, letting those things slide and just being able to say "You know what, I can't do that", and so I don't! I kind of just make sure that if anyone's counting on me doing that, but they know that, being okay with it. JIM: For me, very recently, I started getting up early because I found that if I was staying up late trying to catch up with things that I was doing like, for example, trying to finish writing my book, I was doing it late at night and I would get into working on something late at night. And then, I would get up in the morning I'd be exhausted and I'd be cranky. So what I started doing instead was, making sure that I got to bed early and I used melatonin to help train my body to go to sleep earlier when I wasn't used to go to bed early. And I would set an alarm to wake myself up, an hour or an hour and a half earlier than everybody else. I've been doing that for, I don't know, at least a month, I think. And it has definitely changed the way I see my day. I was never really like a night person or a morning person or anything in particular, so I didn't have a particular bent on whether or not getting up in the morning was a good thing or bad thing. But, I got up in the morning and now I get up and I sort of begin my day and I can do whatever either minimal task I need to get done or I can write into a topic and start getting ready before even seeing anybody in my family and not going to make myself cup of coffee and small breakfast, or something like that, and I'm ready to go. It has definitely changed the way that I behave for the better because at night, I have to go to bed because I know what time I'm getting up in the morning, and it's going to hurt if I stay up late beyond a certain hour. But the other thing is, if things are really not working out well and I need extra sleep, well, I'm used to getting up an hour or 2 hours earlier than everybody else, so no big deal! I'll just snooze and cheat one day. EVAN: Yup. CHUCK: Yeah, I have to say one other thing that has really made a difference for me. It's not something that's really like help me get over the overwhelm or the burnout or whatever you want to call it. But just something that made a big difference anyway was, I was talking to my wife, we were driving over to my parent's house or something, and I was talking to her and I said "Well, I'm worried about this and that", really, I just need to make sure that she interrupted me before I finished and said "Make sure that you're enjoying your job", and what I was going to say is "Make sure we're paying the bills". And honestly, just having that kind of support from my wife and just her making it okay for me to kind of deal with this on my own terms without stressing out over that. And for the most part, if you love what you do and you're doing things that make a difference, I mean it usually works itself out so that you can pay the bills. But, just knowing that it's not this major thing, I mean sure, she'd be stressed out and probably a little upset if I wasn't able to make the bills, but in the long run, it's more important to her that I'm happy in my job. It's just a huge thing to know that I don't have to impress her, I don't have to worry about that kind of thing. I'll be able to make the bills, but at the same time, it's more important to make sure that I'm enjoying my job and doing what I'm doing. That's what's really important to her. And it's an interesting contrast from when I started freelancing because she was totally panicked for that one, when I first started taking clients instead of going and finding a real job. So anyway, if you can get that kind of perspective from your partner, or spouse, or whoever your significant other is, it really makes a big difference. ASHE: It's funny, though, when I noticed myself burning out, I noticed that there are a lot of things that kind of get off of my life. Usually, I get burned out because I've been working too much or I've been working on too many things, and I noticed that other things in my life start to slip, too, like I'm not riding my bike as often, or I'm not eating as well, or I'm not socializing as often as I need to. And kind of getting all of those things back in line and being very intentional about my actions and kind of keeping track of those things so I can help myself start forming those habits all over again, is really important and it helps me a lot. CHUCK: Alright well, are there any other pearls of wisdom the you guys want to share about this? Or, should we just end it a little early and get into the picks? ERIC: Do not hang a laundry out today, it might rain. [laughter] EVAN: This is also true on the East Coast, yes. CHUCK: Oh, we're just getting through the rain here. Anyway, I think there's been some terrific advice here, and I definitely want to second everything that everybody shared because I think all of it really comes down to getting some balance; we talked about a lot of ways of doing that. So hopefully, that helps some other folks; definitely help me. And, it also helps just to be able to sit and talk about it, I know somebody mentioned that, but I mean just talking through it with you guys has helped me to make me feel better. JIM: Yeah, the one thing that comes to mind now actually is, trying to come up with ways to prevent burnout from happening like adding variety to your day. Like every once in a while, when I was travelling to one particular client, I would just go different way. It was through neighborhoods and I could just add another road to my path, and it's a new twist on a typical thing. I think you can do that in your code as well; try out a library that you don't use and just make something different. So hopefully, you can stay off of the burnout before it happens. CHUCK: Yeah. I think another thing that makes a difference is that, I let a lot of stuff go when I was working with this full time contract. And honestly, when I got off that full time contract, it was "I am never doing this again. I'm never going to work this many hours for this long ever again". I mean I can see putting in 40 hours here or there if a client or something else really demands it, but you figure out where your limits are and just really don't violate them. Don't push it. I should've made my health a little bit more of a priority, if you don't know, I have Type 2 Diabetes and it's totally out of whack because I didn't exercise and I didn't eat well. Just stuff like that; I let my health go, I let my spiritual life go, I let a lot of other things go, I didn't spend as much time with my family, and...figure out what those boundaries are and figure out what you're not willing to sacrifice, and don't sacrifice it. I think that plays into a lot of it, too. ERIC: Well, it's like that post, I think Evan picked it a long time ago. It was like a nurse on people's death bed, it's like what they really actually cared about and -- EVAN: The Five Regrets of the Dying, I'll go link it. ERIC: Yeah. And I mean like really think about like how important is this thing that's stressing you out or that's causing burnout, and what are the big important things in your life? Go out from that way instead of worrying about "I have this list of things that I need to get done". CHUCK: Yeah. Any other things to add as far as not burning out? ERIC: Just a general advice, I mean take it easy like I've been slowing myself down because I'm not only here for so many years, and after that, I'm done. I don't need to rush through it; I'm trying to enjoy the scenery. EVAN: Yes, I'll have one other thing, which, since Eric [inaudible] the Five Regrets of the Dying, it brings me back to a presentation where I mentioned it. And that also, burnout is a pain and frustration, which was what the presentation about. And really, it's a message you're doing something wrong; it might also be, possibly, that maybe you're also not respecting your own needs by doing what you're doing for a living. Maybe you should be doing something else, too. So, I think the gist of -- one thing I guess we didn't really say is 'Stop', actually just stop and listen to what you're feeling and try to figure out what it is that's causing you feel that makes you happy with (what) you're thinking is. CHUCK: Yeah. Alright! Well, let's go ahead and do the picks. Eric, what are your picks? ERIC: Recently, there has been just a lot of kind of news/events or whatever, and I basically been trying to ignore it basically because the news cycle tends to be all about the drama, the tragedy, and overhyping things, and I just learned that over time. But, it's always hard for me to explain that to people like why I'm ignoring all these things and I don't want to talk about certain topics. And then, I follow this blog post that kind of on Slate that's called "Breaking News Is Broken", subtitle is "Don't watch cable news. Shut off Twitter. You'd be better off cleaning your gutters." It actually sums it up quite nicely. It's pretty relevant to current events, but you can kind of use the same idea, too, in the kind of breaking news or any kind of those like really emotional subjects that everyone's talking about that there's not a lot of facts around yet. And so, I'll put the link in the show notes for that. CHUCK: Awesome. That's kind of interesting take on things. Eric, what are your picks? EVAN: You just picked Eric...[laughs] ERIC: So, I saw this interesting article... [laughter] CHUCK: Did I say Eric? I meant Evan. ASHE: It's awesome. CHUCK: I totally meant to say Evan. [laughter] EVAN: Okay, this is how burned out Chuck is. I just thought I would point that out. CHUCK: Eric, what are your picks? ERIC: [laughs] So, there's this article on Slate... [laughter] CHUCK: Oh, man... [laughter] CHUCK: Alright, Eric...or Evan. I did it again! JIM: We'll see how many more times you could do this... CHUCK: Okay, Evan, go ahead! [laughs] EVAN: [inaudible] of Eric Davis, today Evan Light! [laughter] EVAN: Alright, okay, two things. One of them that I picked just before Ashe can so she's mad at me, one of them is an app that, well actually, Ashe twitted about when I didn't know she was going to pick it this week -- [Ashe laughs] EVAN: Called "Happier", which I also twitted about and promptly adapt it. I recommend an app kind of similar to this before, but Happier is different in, I think the app that I recommended about a year ago was called Happiness. Whereas, Happiness is more of a personal journal, Happier is actually a social network-y sort of thing (don't be turned off) because it's a social network-y. It's a social network sort of thing where you log the top 3 things in a day or things in a day that make you happy when they make you happy. And sure of course you can take photograph and you can tag it with the kind of category of happiness that it gives you, and keeps account or tally of different things that make you happy by category. But then it also lets you share them with friends or share them with everyone; and when you share them with friends or with everyone, these people can smile at what you've been posted so kind of like 'liking' it, I guess, and they can comment on it. The reason that I like it is, well someone who doesn't really like Facebook, I never really liked Facebook, it just lets you focus on the positive, that's reason 1, so no complaining. Reason 2 is that it's built upon a notion and positive psychology that a regular gratefulness practice will make you overall a happier person over time. If you want to know more about that, you can go see -- actually, I guess I'll have to link these two -- the movie "Happy", and then (I can't remember the name of the book), but not right this seconds, we'll have to link it. But, there's a book that Happy is kind of based upon that tell you more about positive psychology. So, that's one. The other one, and it's been in my Pocket list for a while when I finally read it a few days ago, it's called "If You Were Too Busy To Meditate". I don't think we've talked about meditation too much on the show before, but way back when I was in high school, I was an angry kid, show me a high school who wasn't. And started studying the Aikido, and there was a regular meditation practice that's part of that, and it brain-dead my anger a lot; I was a much happier person as a result. So, it occurred to me to read that article and it pushed me back in the right direction. I started meditating again, I guess [inaudible] 3 or 4 now, and it's already helping me. So, read the article, give it some thought. And if you're curious for more pointers on meditation, then maybe I can link with you and you can ask me and I'll tell you all about them. CHUCK: Awesome. Ashe, what are your picks? ASHE: So, I also have 3 things that make me happy. One of them is an article about the fun in the international space station, especially Canadian astronaut named Chris Hadfield, do all kinds of experiments open-space and then they make videos of them and they put them on YouTube. The one that I just saw the other day was "What Happens When You Bring Out a Wet Towel in Space", and I thought that that was really neat. The second one is app that I found called "Mou", it's a Markdown Editor. It's actually really nice to kind of get out of the way. I know a lot of people prefer, I think the app is just called Markdown. But, I really like this because it's all in one place; it just makes it really nice and easy to work with large values of text. The third one is a "List of Exercises That You Can Do at Home" without any equipments and with very minimal time. And, it kind of goes through like how to do a proper sit-up or how to do squats, these kinds of exercises that you can do for your whole body without having to go to a gym or leaving your house. CHUCK: Awesome. Jim, what are your picks? JIM: One article I actually came across just today that Gary Vaynerchuk wrote on LinkedIn, of all places, I think it's like "My Past Mistake, Too Much Success", where he talks about 5 years of his life where he did too much. He worked all the time and he didn't take off anytime to spend with his family. I remember seeing him speak in several different places; saw him at RailsConf one year, and he's impressive, he's intense, but one thing that I definitely recognize is that he's doing so much. He even talked about how he would spend his time on his phone thanking people, just sending them short notices either Twitter or email or something like that. And so, it's really interesting to me, to read this article, to hear about how he wishes he had just taken the weekend off and flown to Paris with his wife and just spend more time. So, that's a great read. The other pick that I have is trying this with friends or people that you live with. My old roommate and I were working and we wanted to get back into doing more ARC in our free time; we never seem to have time or we'd waste our time sitting in front of the television together. And so, what we started doing was things like unplugging the TV. So, I'd love getting home before my roommate came home and I would see him coming and planked down on the couch and try to use the remote to sit there and veg out for a bit, and I would have "I want the TV and you just...Aggh!" But he get up and go to do something that was ultimately better for him. So, stuff like that. Those are my picks. CHUCK: Cool! I've been so tempted to ask Eric what his picks are again, but I haven't. [crosstalk] CHUCK: [laughs] Alright. So my picks, my first pick is "Battlestar Galactica", I'm pretty sure I picked it on this show or other shows before. But honestly, this is my second time through it and it is, honestly, the best show that I've seen on TV. One of the other shows that I've been watching on TV, I watch it with my wife, is "Downtown Abbey". If you've been watching Downtown Abbey, there is a video on YouTube, it's a spoof on what season 4 episode 1 is going to be. [laughs] And I just, I laughed, and laughed, and laughed. I have to give Josh Sesser credit for posting that. I don't want to spoil it, but basically it's "Well, we decided that we were going to do a musical version of Episode 1", it's funny. Anyway, those are my picks. And then also, I just want to point out that we are switching over. This is the first official episode of The Freelancers Show. We do have a new Twitter account,, [laughs] and I am having the worst time. We're also going to  be moving everything over to So, we'll wrap this up! We'll catch you all next week! JIM: Well-rested next week. CHUCK: Yes!

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