Staving off burnout

Filed under Musings;

I lead a fairly healthy life: I exercise in the summer by bicycling and in the winter by dancing; I follow a vegetarian diet; I’m not a couch potato save for the occasional DVD; I read a few dozen books a year; and I maintain an active social network. All things in moderation.

Lately, I’ve had difficulty keeping that balance. The past few months have warranted that I spend more time on some aspects of my personal life than previously budgeted for. I’ve tried to do this while remaining committed to all my previous activities and obligations, but it isn’t working. I don’t have as much time for cooking new dishes, walking to work, or getting a good night’s sleep; instead, I get home from the office and focus on my next deadline, my next podcast, my next blog post. It’s not that watching the next season of Red vs. Blue or going for a horseback ride are priorities, but play is a critical component of a healthy lifestyle, and I’m not giving my mind enough of it. It’s gotten to the point where I’m instead looking forward to intersections with red lights, because it’s the only time I’m not moving.

Over the years, I’ve learned to say "no" to new opportunities. Not as easy is stepping away from existing ones. Right now, I find that’s what I have to do — and, in the name of balance, the area that I need to cut from is the Apple II, where I’m currently dedicating a disproportionate amount of time and energy.

In case someone misunderstands that statement or fears the worse, let me state in no uncertain terms:


But for me to better fulfill each role I’ve gladly adopted over the years, there need to be fewer of them. That’s where you come in. I’d like readers of Apple II Bits to vote on what are the most and least important projects I focus on. To that end, I have identified ten unique Apple II projects I work on and am asking you to rank them from most to least important. No two items can have the same value. Each of them usually results on a product or goal, and I need to know which ones you find valuable and which ones don’t amount to much to many.

It’s impossible for you to know what projects I enjoy, or the ripple effect each task has on the others (for example, the synergy between this blog, Juiced.GS, and Open Apple is impressive, even though they’re theoretically independent operations). That’s why this poll will not directly determine what to abandon, reduce commitment to, or delegate. The ultimate decision is mine, and this poll is one more piece of data I will use to inform that decision.

(Just for fun, I threw in one non-Apple II commitment, as I suspect its ultimate ranking, whatever it may be, will prove highly amusing.)

The poll runs through noon EDT on Monday, April 2, 2012. Thanks to all who will help determine the course of my life! (Just kidding.)

  1. I wanted to put “1” on everything !


  3. No problem. Change the rules. Kobyashi Maru.

    Truth is, unless there are 100 levels, they can’t be ranked reasonably. “Least” just isn’t a fair valuation for any of those tasks.

  4. It’s meant to be comparative — there are 11 levels because there are 11 items. I don’t want to see what my to-do list would look like for there to be 100 levels.

  5. No, I honestly understand the problem, and until you spelled it out I didn’t really realize how much you do. You rock, and whatever you have to put on back burners or farm out is fine with me.

    Heck, you can even put the GF to #1 on the list!

  6. Can you do less of more things? For example, post 1x a week instead of 2x to your blog, or get guest posters? Make the podcast quarterly? Take a summer hiatus from some of your projects (like they do on TV shows?)

  7. Sarah: Reducing commitments is indeed an option, as are abandonment and delegation.

    I will point out that, in my experience, recruiting, herding, and editing bloggers is usually more trouble than blogging. :-)

  8. Oh well. You could always do a retrospective or clip show ;)

  9. Eek! The last thing the Apple II community needs is its own "Shades of Gray".

  10. Erik Bautz-Holter says:

    Ken, I’m glad to hear that you are taking steps to reduce your workload. It’s better that you continue doing 50% of what you are doing now, than 100% for another year and then it all stops.

    It’s difficult to prioritize on your behalf since I personally very much enjoy all of your work. I have disciplined myself though, and voted “according to the rules” :-) For your own sake make sure you are prioritizing the projects you enjoy most. For the Apple II community I think it would be good if you consider the projects that reaches most people and potentially would “fall apart” if you leave.

    Good luck!


  11. You think _you’ve_ got burnout! Try spending 2 years on an Apple II project! :-)

    It’s alllllllmost done!!!!

  12. I certainly don’t mean to tout my efforts at the expense of anyone else’s. But the nature of my projects is that they’re never done. The completion of every issue of Juiced.GS, every episode of Open Apple, and every blog post for Apple II Bits just means it’s time to start thinking about the next one. They’re ongoing commitments that have busy and slow times but never completely go away.

  13. Ken:

    I look at that list and am overwhelmed. I think I’d have to figure out what could be dropped or what could be delegated before being able to prioritize.

    I strongly recommend delegating spending time with the girlfriend. Much like Juiced.GS, you’ll never be done.

  14. Are you offering to pick up that chore for me, sir?

  15. Too much responsibility for me.

  16. Scott Miller says:

    I think referring to your girlfriend as a chore is a first step.

    Now you only have 10 items to prioritize. ;-)

  17. Andrew Roughan says:

    I think closing the poll before releasing the podcast that referred to it has limited the input you could have received. I’d like to be able to see the list at least.

  18. Andrew: Any end date for the poll will limit input, and this blog and the Open Apple podcast are not coordinated, as you’ve observed. I’m satisfied with the results I received and will be releasing them shortly. Thanks for your interest!