I’ve been thinking about burnout.

If productivity is Light, navigating burnout is the act of striking matches.

The initial spark provides some sense of relief, but soon the flame burns out and what remains is a blackened twig, unable to reignite. So you grab a new match, light it, and watch it burn; repeating the process until the matchbox runs out. Without light, the ever-consuming darkness will render you stagnant. What happens then? 

How do you cope with burnout?

By dissociating? By sleeping it off? By talking about it? By forcing yourself to work through the pain? By being hyper-organized? By not being organized at all?

I’ve found that fostering relationships with people and spending time with them outside of the work-school context allows for a breath of fresh air. Another coping mechanism I employ is alone time. As an introvert, spending time by myself is how I recharge, and it also gives me time to contemplate my weekly obligations and schedule them accordingly. 

Of course, burnout is somewhat unavoidable, but I believe that mine can be managed through the complete organization of my schedule, priorities, and lifestyle. 

how would one design a time-management system that prevents burnout?

Is it even possible? Could it help users stay productive while mitigating stress levels? 

What if we created a scheduling system that analyzed your activity based on the efficiency of your schedule? 

A system designed to live on the fringe of your mind, automatically measuring your activity and observing your capabilities, only to notify you of when you may be at your wit’s end. I realize this may make people uncomfortable and paranoid. The system could track your projects, plans, productivity, and location, providing empirical data to measure your abilities and efficiencies. 

It could be extremely detrimental to your mental health… or it could motivate you.

This system would not work for everyone. It may help users stay on top of their workload, balance their lives, and become the most efficient versions of themselves. But it may have the opposite effect, implying that a person’s productivity is an indicator of their value, thus reducing their self-worth to a percentage calculated by the system. 

This post has gotten progressively dark. Does anyone have an extra matchbox?

Perhaps burnout isn’t so bad…