Update: I totally forgot about the burnout aspect, work productivity, and words.
A DevLeague student asked me about burnout and how I manage that in my daily life. I've been pretty into "bio-hacking" recently so I decided to share the things I've learned with this student. Since I probably overloaded him with information I decided to write all of it down into a post so that I can share it with more people and have a reference point for later.
8AM - 10PM, Jump Start
One protein shake (at least 30g of protein and minimal carbs, < 4g of carbs, 1 g of sugar). The protein will jump start you metabolism in the morning. The protein will usually keep me from feeling too hungry until lunch.
One tall glass (at least 6oz) of ice cold water. The colder the better. The cold water will shock your body and get you into gear. This shakes that groggy feeling right off.
At least one hour of me time while I finish my protein and cold water. This includes reading hackernews, social media, personal email (no work emails), youtube, and some other activities that may need my attention.
No breakfast (This is more for convenience) If you do have breakfast, make sure the amount of carbs you intake are low. Although this is probably the best time to eat any meal with the most amount of carbs.
Then I'll head to work while listening to podcasts (Nerdist, Tim Ferriss, The Weeds) and catch up on work related news and email. Work till lunch. No coffee.
12PM - Lunch
Lunch is something low on carbs. Carbs and sugar will leads to the dreaded 2PM slow down. I'm also on a slow carb diet but I found this to be generally true anyway. Also, limit how much you eat. Too full = nap time. Drinking a diet coke is allowed. Only diet, sugar will lead to a crash.
By lunchtime, I'm usually starting to get tired and hungry. The tiredness is usually driven by lack of food in my stomach so I know eating will give a short energy boost. The caffeine in the diet soda will help that energy boost hit quicker. Caffeine generally take about 30 minutes to take effect and can last for a few hours but will lead to a crash.
3PM - Crash Avoidance
This is my 1st coffee of the day. And hopefully the only one I will have. At this point, the short energy boost is over and the crash from the caffeine is starting to rear it's ugly head. Sometimes the energy boost will last all the way to 5PM but I know my body will have problems sleeping if I drink coffee that late. Your mileage may vary.
3PM - 6:30PM, 10PM
Work till I'm ready to go home. Listen to podcasts on the way home. If I have a HICapacity related event that night, I will skip dinner. I know this is not good so I'll increase the size of my lunch and move my coffee time up an hour. If I don't have an event, I'll go home and start cooking dinner.
Dinner usually consists of a spinach salad with low carb dressing (currently Newman's Caesar Dressing, only 4g of carbs), two eggs, a meat, and some beans. The beans are carbs but they are slow carbs. The reason this matters is because, as no carb dieters will realize, if you don't have any carbs, you'll wake up incredibly groggy and will find it hard to get out of bed. If you have slow carbs (like beans) you'll wake up fine and still be losing weight over the long haul. So, in closing, beans are important.
8PM - 11PM, Cool Down Period
Work if I need to, otherwise start to relax. I like to make sure I have at least 2 hours of cool down but I've been known to drop it to around 30 minutes if I didn't get into work early enough. This includes watching tv, a movie, listening to music, working on side projects, writing blogs posts, and playing with my cat.
11PM - Slow Down Period
Time to get into sleep mode. I start by taking a 400mg Magnesium gel cap from Nature. Magnesium is often not taken enough by most adult but also has the effect of producing the most effective sleep you will ever get. I honestly forgot why this works scientifically but it works for me. But you need one hour for it to kick in. So in the meantime, I'll read a book. Before I read the book, I'll go through social media one last time for the night then put my phone away far from myself so I don't get tempted. Then I read for about an hour to 2 hours. (Impulse control issues)
12PM, 1PM - Bed Rest
Sleep for at least 6 hours, preferably 8 hours. Alcohol is also known to affect sleep, even when taking magnesium. So I've been playing around with this. If I have to ensure that I have to wake up early in the morning, I'll still take the magnesium but I'll also take a shot or two of whiskey before that. The alcohol is usually spread throughout my cool down time. This has so far guaranteed that I wake up early but sometimes too early. I've woken up at 3AM in the morning and not go back to sleep until 6AM. So be careful.
Protein is the best way to feel full without eating too much and also helps with weight loss as long as you keep your carbs nearly non-existent. The only carbs I intake are green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, cauliflower), some tomatoes (in moderation), beans (only at night), and one weekly cheat day where I can eat all the candy I want.
No more than 1.5 cans of diet soda a day. I actually cheat this and drink closer to two cans. Mainly because I can't just toss the other .5 of a can of diet coke.
Coffee is fine but I have a particular sensitivity to it. If I drink it too late in the day, I know I'll be up to around 2AM - 3AM. Too early in the day and I know I'll crash and either need to drink more (and risk sleeping late that night) or just deal with the crash. I've heard that bulletproof coffee could be a solution here. I just haven't gotten around to trying it yet though.
I will also drink as much water as I can throughout the day. Water is important because I vape and that typically dehydrates the body. This will lead to a productivity slowdown. It's better to be over-hydrated and use the bathroom often, then under-hydrated and mentally drained.
About sleep, I make sure not to use my phone or any LED emitted light at night. This apparently affects the human sleeping pattern and keeps people up later. I've chosen to read a physical book at night to slow down my brain while staving off the effects of LED light. Books worth reading, Zero to One (Peter Thiel), The Martian (Andrew Weir), pick a classic.
Exercise. I need to find time to add in some exercise soon. I've heard it help with sleep and energy in general throughout the day. It looks like a minimum of about 30 minutes a day is the minimum effective dose to see a visible result. I think after 30 minutes, the next effective dose is said to be around 2 hrs.
Metrics. My main metric is my weight. I haven't been exercising at all so I know it's a pretty accurate indication of my how fat I'm losing and it shows as well. A better metric would be weighing myself in a pool with one of those fancy machines, but I don't have access to that. Otherwise, I keep track of what I eat/drink during the and match it to the amount of weight lost per day. This helps to identify what meal combinations aid or hurt my weight loss. I also match it to how easy and how rested I am each day. I do not keep track of this on paper but rather mentally so there is some bias. But I don't deviate much in either category so I know when something doesn't work. There is also anecdotal evidence that supports just writing down your weight everyday has an effect of dropping your weight slowly over the course of months.
I found that the best way to deal with burnout is to always schedule in time during your day for the activity that you like that have nothing to do with work. If you have family, make sure you get home at a decent hour and have dinner with them. Then spend some time with your children. Explore your hobbies during your cool down time. Also, make sure you spend time with friends on the weekends. A person should put in the same amount of effort into having fun as they do into work (especially if you're a workaholic like I am).
The human mind can only handle about 45-50 minutes of intense focus. After that, it needs a "cool down" period or else productivity just keeps sinking lower and lower. I just happen to vape/smoke so I tend to schedule my vaping session in an hourly fashion. This is very similar to the Pomodoro Technique. Basically I'll work for about 50 minutes, then I'll walk outside, get some sun, clear my head and just vape/smoke for a few minutes. When I'm back in the office, I'm reset, so I can put in another 50 minutes of work and be more productive than if I'd just plowed through the work.
The diet allows for one cheat day where I could eat anything I want for 24 hours. This actually helps reset my metabolism so that I can bust through weight plateaus. It also keeps me sane when I am craving bread, pasta, alcohol, or anything I don't eat.
I'm constantly trying to find more ways to improve my day to day and the first thing I've already mentioned. Exercise. Otherwise, I'm looking into more tools to help me focus during the day while working. Keeping better metrics is another tool I can use to ensure that I'm at optimal performance. Quitting vaping/smoking is probably another choice that I could make to improve my overall health but I don't see any short term benefits right now and short list of short term cons that might affect work.
I owe most of the diet information to Tim Ferriss and his blog/podcast/book (4HR Body). With regards to caffeine, I've been dealing with that most of my life so just keeping track of the meals and drinks I've had and tracking how difficult it is to go to sleep has really nailed down how I drink coffee now.
The meals are all from 4HR Body and I've been able to lose a good 15lbs in the course of a month. I've hit a plateau but hope to lose more soon.