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Burnout, Cognitive Exhaustion, and Quiet Quitting

Burnout, Cognitive Exhaustion, and Quiet Quitting

No, you’re not stupid. You’re not lazy, either. You’re just spent. Eat healthy food, keep portions moderate, get enough sleep, get at least a little exercise at least once per day, and for heaven’s sake, put breaks in your calendar and protect them. And always bill for the time you spend on non-visible creative work.

Those who bill for hours worked must add “downtime” so that they can do the more active-looking work. Sometimes we call this “padding” hours. Padding is actually about hedging risk when we don’t know how much visible work there is (meetings, hands on keyboard) versus thinking. (Yes, thinking.) If a client asks me how long it takes to complete a deliverable, I’m not going to quote the time I spend typing and analyzing data. That’s only some of what’s required to produce the work. The subconscious mind MUST be afforded time to generate ideas and organize them before we can put words on a page consciously. We must always include that time in the budget and be diligent about billing for it.

As a rule of thumb, if I expect a writing project to require 1 hour of keyboard time, I will include 2-3 more for subconscious processing and playing with the ideas. If I don’t, I’m losing 2-3 hours of billing that might look like loafing but are an absolute requirement to engaging in VISIBLE activities required to achieve a result.

Failing to account for work that others can’t see forces the brain to switch to a mode that, at the moment, some might call “quiet quitting.” The subconscious mind will enforce limits and conserve resources if you push it too hard, as is true of workers and their managers.