Category Archives: Work

Obsession & Burnout-2

Obsession & Burnout are back to haunt me. I have blogged about it before, but this time, things are a bit worse.

So, the background is, that after months of doing very light-level work, I have been handed a challenging project. Not an impossible project, not an easy one, moderately challenging. Others would be excited for this opportunity (actually were). However, I have already started obsessing about it all the time. My free time everyday, weekends and sleep time has been taken over by obsessively thinking about this project.

Some of this thinking is productive; that is I do accomplish some positive outcome, but most of it is irrational fear. Haven’t slept much last few nights.

I believe the reasons for this are

  1. Lack of useful distractions away from work because of the lockdown (more apparent during the weekend). Examples of this includes going out to spend time with family, friends & family friends. I have not much to look forward to, all week.
  2. Lack of physical boundaries between work and leisure. Earlier, work happened in the office (mostly) and leisure happened elsewhere. Now there’s only one place for both (home), so it has become difficult to switch off from work mode when the day or week is over.
  3. My usual hang ups about obsession, that were always a part of me.
  4. Uncertainty about future events, some of which are beyond my control.
  5. Fear of failure, which is more or less irrational.
  6. Hectic schedule with both parents working and trying to handle a kid.
  7. Guilt of not spending enough time with family, forcing that to happen and being absent emotionally even then and not doing work either.
  8. Thinking about all the above amplifies the condition.

I plan to follow the steps below to deal with this situation

  1. Practice mindfulness everyday, and make it a part of daily life and log mood daily.
  2. Use organisation hacks like making lists for everything, tracking all To Dos etc.
  3. Writing down things that cross my mind at the end of the work day and when not working and can be done later.
  4. Establish chronological boundaries when it comes to work.
  5. Establish physical boundaries within the house when it comes to work (This might prove a bit difficult)
  6. Finding an engaging hobby (TV generally doesn’t help) to take my mind off such thoughts during leisure time.
  7. Wait for this to blow over, as such phases don’t last more than a few weeks.

For now, I just want one night of good sleep, to recharge my health and sanity, for which I will use a friend’s help.

Recurring Nightmare

I have been having this one recurring nightmare for years. There are different variations, but the basic theme is the same.

Theme – I have not managed to graduate from college, because I haven’t passed anywhere between 6-14 exams after my last semester. Now, I am at a stage that I have to clear all my remaining subjects in the next exams, or I have to do my graduation all over again. Also, I lose my job if I don’t produce a valid degree.

Variations – In some of these nightmares, I am determined to study hard and pass this time around, but when I open my books, all the pages are blank, so I cannot study. In some variations, I do manage to study, but end up sleeping through the exam day, waking up in panic in the evening. In some cases, I am not even aware of the exams till the last moment and I end up rushing to the exam centre with no preparations.

In real life, I did manage to graduate almost 14 years ago, but by the skin of my teeth. I passed some subjects (EMF) by some fluke (I studied only a few topics and those are the ones which appeared on the exam) or after multiple attempts (Mathematics-1 took 5 attempts).

However, when I I truly lucked out was during the 8th semester exams. I had appeared for both 7th (failed subjects) and 8th semester exams during my last attempt and had only attempted the bare minimum questions in some of them. I was more surprised than relieved when the results were announced and I realised I had passed in all of these exams and graduated successfully. Later, when the mark sheets were released, I realised it was another fluke.

Nightmare
Fluke!

You see, I had actually failed in Subject 5 above, but, our university had a provision of grace marks. However, the rules were very specific and I had never received grace marks ever, before this. Some rules

  • You would get up to a total of 10 grace marks per semester only.
  • You would only get grace marks if it enables you to pass in all subjects in that semester
  • You would get grace marks only in certain specific denominations
    • Exactly 10 marks in one subject (I would get grace marks only if I score exactly 30 in that subject. 31 would also not do)
    • Exactly 5 marks each in 2 subjects (Need to score exactly 35 in 2 subjects)
    • Exactly 2 marks in 1 subject (which is what I got)

Even though I failed in Subject 5, I was awarded 2 grace marks and I passed that subject and graduated. If I had 1 mark more or less in that subject, I wouldn’t have graduated when I did. Maybe the fact that I graduated because of such a fluke is what triggers these nightmares. Strangely, when I wake up and realise it was all a nightmare, it still doesn’t make me feel better. What a nightmare!

The kicker? The subject that I couldn’t even get passing marks in was related to Computer Networking and I am now a network engineer.

Weirdest Birthday Ever

This year, I had the weirdest birthday ever. Normally, my birthday is spent with a close family lunch and a wider family dinner. This year, however, I had to travel to Bangkok for work & since this was my last week in this particular company, I didn’t say no.

I went on the company trip and planned my family to visit me on the weekend before my birthday and stay till the day after my birthday, but because of the Covid-19 situation, their trip had to be cancelled. On top of that, my birthday was a Thai holiday, so I was staring at spending my birthday alone.

I started the day waking up late and having a leisurely breakfast at the hotel.

I saw a couple of movies, and then was surprised by the Hotel staff with a birthday cake. The cake was delicious and heavy, so I skipped lunch.

Weirdest Birthday
Cake!

In the evening, I took a long walk to Benjakiti Park, took the Skytrain From Asok to Phrom Phong station and spent some time at the Emquartier mall. After roaming round the Glass Quartier, the Waterfall Quartier, I headed for dinner at the Helix Quartier.

The Helix Quartier is a beautifully designed section of the mall. As the name says, it has a gently sloping walkway in the shape of a Helix without a clear distinction between different floors, with restaurants lining both sides of the walkway. I found a nice Korean Organic Chicken and Rice place and had a hearty meal.

Organic Korean Chicken and Rice

After dinner, I went back to the hotel, alone, watched some TV and fell asleep, thus bringing to end, the weirdest birthday ever.

Obsession & Burnout

Last few weeks I have been obsessed with some project at work. It was something I was dreading not doing for some time, but eventually took up because no one else would do it, resulting in burnout.

Now, I am a Network Engineer by profession and this project requires skills in Linux, PHP, Perl etc. so was challenging at first, but eventually I got hooked and it took over my life. Some examples of the madness include

  1. Waking up in the morning anxious to go to office (But not in a good way)
  2. Sitting at my desk for hours without moving
  3. Ignoring all other projects
  4. Not realising it was already night and I have a home
  5. Going home and researching about the project on my phone
  6. Not able to sleep thinking about the project
  7. Having dreams about the project

After 2 weeks now that almost all major challenges are over, I am left spent, exhausted and close to burnout.

Need some time to divert my thoughts to something else.