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A simple rule to help you overcome burnout

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The other day, a close friend and I were texting about something hard happening in her life. I asked how she had been doing lately, and she gave it to me straight: “I feel like I’m doing everything I can to stay sane, but no matter what I do, it doesn’t balance the scales.” Enter distressed emoji.

My friend’s insightful (and extremely relatable) observation reminded me the Belgian researchers Isabella Roskam and Moïra Mikolajczak, who study parental burnout and effects. While burnout can feel a lot like stress and even anxiety and depression, it’s not just about the presence of…

For your next big thing—whatever that thing may be—consider going at it alone

Illustration © Ross McCammon

Because I’m writing this story alone, I don’t need to discuss with anyone how to start it off. So it will start with a story (an efficient story, I promise) about how for years I fundamentally misunderstood my mother’s experience raising me. It will end with a call to action, but this is how it’s going to start.

My parents split up when I was only a few months old. As I grew older and began to understand what raising a child actually entails, I built a narrative of struggle around my mother’s life. The image was: My mom was…

Understanding time is essential for finishing things

Photo: Casio

The first watch I ever wore was a Casio F91W-1. The cheapest kind — black plastic. Despite its lack of frills, it was the greatest productivity tool I ever used.

The watch is a simple item: You can set alarms, timers, and most importantly, you can set a little beep to go off every hour. That alone did wonders for my understanding of time—I was able to set deadlines for myself and create work-life boundaries.

With every beep, my attention was drawn to the current time. I noticed how fast I could write a certain amount of pages, how fast…

You’re doing a lot—and you’re good at it. Stop trying to make it look easy.

Photo: PBNJ Productions/Getty Images

Last weekend, I hosted a birthday party for my nephew. At one point, I was shuttling between the stove inside and the grill outside to finish the taco filling for the kids and grilled chicken for the grownups. When my sister asked how she could help, my first instinct was to say that I didn’t need any. Then I realized I was being ridiculous and asked her to grate cheese and chop lettuce. We chatted while we prepped.

What almost stopped me from accepting her offer? The desire to make things look easy.

This tendency sits at the junction of…

Stop sidelining what’s important in favor of what you can check off your to-do list

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Human beings crave progress. That craving distorts what we work on. Vital pursuits with less tangible progress are frequently sidelined for trivialities we can check off a to-do list.

Think of the last time you updated your computer. Just having the progress bar made the wait more bearable. The inching left to right may have been inconsistent. It may have been downright misleading, as the frustration at witnessing it stall forever at exactly 99% can attest.

But imagine how much harder it would be to wait if the progress bar weren’t even there.

On why we feel the need to be productive in the first place

Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

For the last day or two, I’ve been thinking about this excellent Vox essay by Beatrice Forman titled, “The soothing, slightly sinister world of productivity hacks,” partly because while it’s nominally about the new generation of air-quote, Influencers (some of whom are not legally old enough to drink), who are doling out productivity advice on TikTok, it’s also about venerating work for its own sake.

I share Forman’s repulsion to the surface idea of it. I think work can be deeply gratifying but it is not inherently**, and I know this because I’ve worked the customer service desk at a…

How to track your routines when the idea of tracking anything fills you with existential dread

Photo: Mayur Kakade/Getty Images

I have never been someone who enjoys organizing, de-cluttering, or doing anything administrative. I am comfortable with some level of chaos and my inclination to impose order on it is fairly selective. I want structure for big projects and tasks (running an organization day-to-day, getting long-term projects with a lot of moving parts done), but I’m ambivalent about the micro stuff.

So while I know that habit tracking helps habits stick, it’s always felt to me like one more administrative thing to do. Even opening an app has been too much of a chore. …

Even if your work feels mundane, there’s a way to find meaning in it

In Japan, phenomenal customer service is not limited to just high-end luxury shops and hotels. If you walk into any regular store, you will likely be greeted by an employee who will politely welcome you in, bow to you, and rush to help you as soon as they realize you need assistance. Their uniforms are crisp, clean, and appearance clearly cared for. The shelves are put together, the products aligned and organized. …

🔥 Tip: Leave your work “while it’s hot.”

If you’ve ever watched, well, television, you know that screenwriters end episodes with cliffhangers so you’ll be eager to come back for more. You can use this technique to motivate yourself to finish everyday tasks. On Forge, Felicia C. Sullivan explains that when writing, she practices the Hemingway method, leaving the page she’s working on “while it’s hot.” She writes: “I stop work in the ‘middle’ of things so I can easily resume my flow during my next time block. I always have something to return to that will excite me.” One…

Tip: Add that no response will result in you taking an action.

If you’re like many people, you end your emails with the chipper sign-off: “Let me know! Thanks!” And then once you hit send, you sit there in mild distress, wondering if or when that person will ever actually let you know. In those times when you can’t move forward with your own responsibilities until you receive an answer, it helps to include a deadline with your message. Twitter user Angry Rose shares this advice: “Pro-tip: When constructing emails, make sure you write in some way that no…


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