The title for the Entrepreneur article was, “The Co-Founder Behind Slack Shares What He Did 140 Times Last Year Alone -- and How It Helped Prevent Burnout”.
Slack's co-founder and CTO Cal Henderson, answered 20 questions posed by the magazine. It was question 18 that got to the tease of the article title. How do you prevent burnout? Cal’s response was “listening to audiobooks. I listened to 140 books last year. Because an audiobook requires proper mental focus, it forces me to stop thinking about whatever I was thinking about before.”
Huh? It did not initially make sense to me. I am sure Mr. Henderson works some pretty intense hours as it is. 50 to 60 hours is probably normal for him? When I checked into my Audible account and searched for business books, I found that most of them took at least 6.5 hours to read. Even speeding up the narration to 130% or better, that is still about 5 hours. So that means that listening to 140 audio books would take 637 hours or 12+ hours a week.
Proper Mental Focus
Then I looked back at his quote, specifically, “Because an audiobook requires proper mental focus, it forces me to stop thinking about whatever I was thinking about before”. OK, maybe so.
I have been dancing with burnout sporadically for the last year. For me it shows up by Friday afternoon. The thought of being on the computer almost makes me nauseous. It takes all of Saturday, doing little more than couch surfing and napping to feel human.
I checked out Psychology Today for their take on burn out. I found, “The Tell Tale Signs of Burnout ... Do You Have Them?”
First off, they said, “burnout is a state of chronic stress”. That fits for me. The “chronic” part is not so much the work part of the equation. I do not mind 50+ hour weeks. I do not track it. What gets to me is the 24/7 worry and brain engagement. Unless I am sleeping, I am thinking about work. I did not used to be like that. Anxiety was also not a word I thought of too much. I do now.
That was the aha moment. 12 hours a week of engaging in an audio book. Might my brain dis-engage from the hamster wheel of the startup grind?
My first book this week
I have to say, I believe the key for me is that the book is audio. I can listen, start, stop, replay…fall asleep and go backwards until I recognize where I was. I feel excited about what I am learning. I get excited to share it with my team.
The top three signs of burnout are:
- physical and emotional exhaustion
- cynicism and detachment
- feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment
I have experienced all of those.
This week, they are not as present. The added benefit of reading is that I am not working and I have not felt moments of exhaustion. I guess reading business books provides cover to my guilt, for not spending that time working. The time spent reading is a tonic.
It is hard to feel cynicism and to be detached, as I listened to Bono speak about how he applied OKR’s to some huge world problems (last chapter in the book, you will love it).
How can I feel anything but “effective”, when I am listening to the author detail how I could implement “Objectives and Key Results” into my businesses as he has guided countless others?
What do you do?
Are you feeling burnt out (at times?). How have you coped? What has worked for you?
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