A Copywriter’s Blog
Burnout Ben Levy 23, May

Earlier in the week a friend of mine linked to some article about some thing that had a point but the important thing is it contained the following sentence:

“What I learned is that burning out isn’t just about work load, it’s about work load being greater than the motivation to do work.”

When I read those words, they appeared in my psyche as six mile high letters, written in fire, and surrounded by winged cherubs shredding air guitars and ghost-riding the whip.

I’ve felt burned out before, of course. But it’s often hard for me to figure out why I feel that way. Indulge me just a second here, and fasten your safety belts for my ego trip:

I went through Comm Design at Syracuse University. I survived CP+B as an intern. I can work 72 hours straight, and still write coherent copy and think up client-worthy concepts.

The point is, it’s really tough to burn me out on hours alone. Hours I can handle. Sleep deprivation I can handle. At some point I will start having conversations with an imaginary purple muskrat named Timmy, but the dude has had some pretty awesome ideas in the past, so I’m ok with it.

So it’s never hours that burn me out. It’s that other thing. The thing I wasn’t able to express very well before reading that line in that article. The 40-hour a week temp job doing data entry. The single “easy course” I’d take just for the credits in college. The one stupid project that I don’t really care about I just want it done but I also won’t let it suck and now it’s taken all afternoon and I feel like I’ve just completed a marathon running on the soles of my brain.

I’m not sure that last example even made sense. But it also kinda did. I’ll leave it in.

But now that I’ve seen the cause written plainly, I’ll know what to look for if the symptoms set in again. And I’ll be on the lookout for the opposite: those projects and jobs that I want more than anything, where the amount of work involved is irrelevant. Because when you find those, it’s like a cheesy energy drink commercial. You go hours, days, weeks without feeling tired, and there’s no crash at the end.