How a Desktop Detox Saved Me from Total Burnout

Posted February 28, 2016 by Amanda Shofner in Writing / 0 Comments


Remember when I said I had to take time for myself?

Sometimes the decision is made for you. If you listen close enough to your body, it’ll tell you when you need break. And if you ignore it long enough, you’ll wish you didn’t.

Which is sort of what happened to me last week.

News flash: You can’t keep going and producing and working constantly without hitting a wall eventually.

So I decided to do something I haven’t done in nearly a year—I took a break from writing. I took a break from editing. I shut down my desktop and didn’t worry about any of it for four whole days.

Four days isn’t really a long time, but it was enough reverse my burnout and make a few things clear:

Relaxation isn’t an option.

Society has an obsession with being “busy,” and it’s pretty damn dangerous. If you’re not careful, taking time for yourself becomes something you feel guilty about. Mix that with my own tendency to overwork, and it gets ugly fast.

I used to take the weekends off. I haven’t for the past few months, and it wasn’t until I took my Desktop Detox that I realized it.

Going forward, weekends will be more about me. I’ll read more and work less. I’ll get outside and enjoy the nice weather, or at least use the porch more.

The view from a Minneapolis porch

Scheduling author time is a secret burnout-busting weapon.

Yeah. YEAH.

Not being on my computer for a few days made me realize how often I usually find myself at my desk. It was a lot. Too much.

Scheduling time to write or edit—or whatever—is good to force yourself to get it done, but it’s also a fantastic way to keep yourself from doing too much.

During my Desktop Detox, I learned where I have natural pockets of time perfect for authoring. It’s time to start using those pockets for actual productive work.

When I get crazy productive, it’s not because I spend a lot of my time working—it’s because I use my time efficiently.

I haven’t been doing that, and it shows.

Crazy Hair

Evaluating priorities on a regular basis is a must.

Setting goals is good. Knowing what you want out of life is good, too. But priorities in life shift, and your schedule has to shift with them.

When my life got crazy, I should have pulled back and taken more time to myself. I didn’t because I thought my priority was keeping my book moving forward.

You and your health should always be your number 1 priority.

Because if you’re not healthy—if you get sick or have constant headaches or whatever happens to you when you burn out—your work suffers, too.

Take your own detox.

I took a detox from my desktop, because that computer represented work. It was short—just four days. Perhaps your detox needs to be away from your phone if you can’t seem to set it down. Maybe it’s from your laptop, because you don’t have a desktop computer.

What’s stopping you from taking time for yourself? What’s your addiction? Give yourself a break from it and see what you learn.

Me? I learned that I need more time spent like this:


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