Recently, I was under a large strain at work. I had never worked so hard in my life and at first, it was exhilarating. By the end, I was completely burnt out. I'm still recovering from the trauma of working 70+ hours a week, but I'm trying to take time to reflect on the experience.
I now have some pretty conclusive proof of my skills as a developer, which I'm pretty proud of. But what I'm really excited about was how I made decisions: intuition. When I had several choices, I didn't have to spend time evaluating my different options because I could feel which one would work. This is mostly, I think, thanks to have having done things the wrong ways in the past.
When you push a machine to its limits, the weakest parts of it will break first. In my case, I'm interested to see what parts of my professional skills fell apart under strain because those are the skills I need to improve.
These were things like the ability to compartmentalize. I've never been good at checking my feelings at the door, as I am an emotional person. When I was having a great day, I would be super productive. If something was bothering me, then it would be hard to push through and concentrate. That's something that I started to work on about a month ago with meditation, and it's been going well so far.
Another thing I saw drop off precipitously as I became sleep deprived was my creativity. At first, I was bounding with new ideas for code architecture and design. By the end, I just wanted it to be over. It's not easy to know that how you feel isn't really how you should feel.
So that's it. I'm working on improving my ability to focus in hectic situations and getting back into some creative outlets (like this blog post!). I'm going to Montreal tomorrow with some friends to take some photos, too.
I've now been to the brink of burn out and I'm more familiar with my own limitations. In a lot of ways, I think I've grown as a person and a professional during the past two months, but it's not an experience I ever want to repeat.