Sylva Spoon

Burnout or Discipline

Thomas Bartlett1 Comment
Burnout: fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity.
Discipline: behavior and order maintained by training and control

My week tends to have a fairly set routine: after roughing out around 15 or so items at the Saturday Farmers' Market I have Sunday and sometimes Monday to spend time with my wife and generally relax. I then spend the rest of the week finishing the roughed out work, starting and finishing a few other items along the way. This week I found myself avoiding work. Which is strange, because I genuinely enjoy what I do. I wanted figure out why that was the case.

My wife and I did host a neighbourhood barbeque on Sunday. It was a lot of fun, but more effort than our usual Sundays of walks with the dog and watching films from the sofa. So perhaps I was just feeling tired. On the flip side, we did spend our Monday doing virtually nothing, which was decidedly delicious. I know that I'm susceptible to thinking that if I enjoy a little of something, then a lot of it would also be great. Which is how I sometimes end up eating a whole box of doughnuts on my own. But that's a whole other issue!

After much navel-gazing I decided it was either due to either burnout or a lack of discipline. I've been working more or less the same routine for the last 18 weeks. I've carved a lot of spoons in that time. I also know that I enjoy doing nothing. I get this weird notion that surfing Craigslist and watching another Youtube video on what Dr. Strange's plan at the end of Infinity War might have been will be more enjoyable than sitting in my workshop carving. 

Sidenote: I prefer to think in terms of discipline rather than motivation. Motivation tends to relate more to wanting to do something. If I always waited until I wanted to do I thing, I wouldn't get a lot done. Discipline get things done because you know it needs doing.

The tricky part is figuring out which was the cause. The lazy part of me could convince me it's burnout and sit me on the couch and let Youtube's algorithm feed me an endless stream of videos. Conversely, the disciplined part of me is capable of marching me out to the shed and keeping me there until I end up genuinely disliking what I'm doing. So figuring out where on the spectrum of being burnt-out or lacking discipline is a worthwhile pursuit albeit a tricky one. 

I wasn't fully avoiding work altogether. What I was avoiding was the main task of actually carving stuff. I've recently acquired a small gas forge so I can make my own turning hooks. I played around with that a little this week. I don't have a anvil, so I was using the 'anvil plate' on the back of my bench vice. It didn't work great, a real anvil is still needed, but it was fun to smack some hot metal around. This week wasn't really the right time to fire up the forge. I should have waited until I had access to a proper anvil. I also spent a fair chunk of time putting together some videos. All things that peripherally support the business. But not the main task of making things to sell at Saturday's Farmers' Market. 

The way I was avoiding work was probably the biggest indicator as to why I was avoiding work. The fact that my procrastination was still within the broad realm of 'work' suggested I was being disciplined enough to avoid truly wasting my time. I think mixing in a wider range of activities (more regular blogging again, for example) will keep me from pointlessly avoiding the main tasks that need to be done. 

What tends to pull you away from your most important work? How do you keep yourself focused and on task?