Burnout and Staying Productive.

The "B" word

Hey Everyone, Thanks for stopping by and taking your time to check out my post.

I wanted to take my time to go over my thoughts on Burnout and staying productive while learning and discovering on your cyber security journey, or any other en-devour in your life.

Before I get to it, I also want to explain what motivated me to write this.

I have been on my own journey and learning path regarding Cyber security from studying and passing my eLearnSecurity - eJPT certificate to studying for my eCPPT exam then on to OSCP in the near future.

Also studying and practicing on platforms like Hackthebox, Tryhackme, Pentesterlabs and also trying to get involved with bug bountie hunting. I've also taken on a challenge from a friend on twitter called #100DaysOfHacking, where I take steps everyday to get better by building a consistent habit of doing at least one activity to help me towards my goal for 100 days. Thanks WearyAndroid for the challenge I am currently up to day 21 as I write this.

As I have gone along on my journey I have noticed something...

Have you ever got to the point where you are so damn productive and motivated to study, learn, and hack all the things!?...And then all of a sudden you become exhausted and lethargic. You keep going but things are not clicking like they where at the start of the week? But... You keep pushing anyway? Making your self more tired? Then maybe start to feel depressed and start to doubt yourself?

This is normal and its called burnout and It's a very real thing whether we like to admit it or not.

WHAT IS BURNOUT?

Two important definitions of burnout are:

  • "A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations." – Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson.

  • "A state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward." – Herbert J. Freudenberger.

Between them, these definitions embrace the essence of burnout, with the first stressing the part that exhaustion plays in it, and the second focusing on the sense of disillusionment that is at its core.

Anyone can become exhausted and burnt out. Burnout usually strikes individuals who are highly committed to their work: You can only "burn out" if you have been "on fire" in the first place.

Usually exhaustion can be overcome with proper rest, a core part of burnout is a deep sense of disillusionment.

The modern mentality a lot of us prescribe to is "hustle hustle hustle" and "work hard" and "Try Harder" which is very true but... the funny thing is if we start to suffer from burnout and exhaustion we start to become unproductive, unfocused and slow.

Therefore setting ourselves back from our goals and motivations sometimes for long periods of time which is not what we want.

I know it sounds cheesy but remember the story of the tortoise and the hair? Slow and steady does win the race and burning out can set you far back in your studies and in life.

It can take the joy out of things and even affect other areas of life including relationships, health and well being. Does not sound very productive does it? The brain and body is a machine sometimes maybe we need to apt-get update and apt-get upgrade or body and mind as well.

SO WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

How can we stay on the hustle train longer and longer gathering momentum along our journey so we can smash through obstacles to overcome, learn faster, be better and smarter?

One book that has helped me immensely with productivity and time management is Limitless by Jim Kwik which i suggest you check out.

He mentions a few key points in regards to this topic let me share them with you.

1. A GOOD BRAIN DIET

Resiliency expert Dr. Eva Selhub often likens the brain to a high-performance vehicle. “Like an expensive car,” she writes, “your brain functions best when it gets only premium fuel. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress—the ‘waste’ (free radicals) produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells.

”She goes on to note that when your brain is forced to run on inferior fuel, it can’t possibly do everything it was built to do. Refined sugar, for example, contributes to impaired brain function, leads to inflammation, and can even cause depression (something you might want to consider the next time you reach for a tub of ice cream to contend with a tough day).

2. BRAIN NUTRIENTS

As we’ve discussed, diet affects brain function. But what if you aren’t able, because of your schedule or lifestyle, to regularly eat a rich brain-food diet? Research has shown that particular nutrients have a direct effect on your cognitive ability. I always prefer getting my nutrients from real, whole, organic foods

3. EXERCISE

“Exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills,” writes Heidi Godman, the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. “In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.

I can almost hear some of you complaining or making excuses as you read that last paragraph: Exercise is boring. You don’t have time for it. You can’t afford a gym membership. But the simple fact is that exercise is enormously valuable if you want to unshackle your brain.

Think about it: When you’re active and moving, you feel sharper, right? Some of us even need to move around in order to get our brains operating at top efficiency. That’s because there’s a direct correlation between exercise and brain function. And you don’t need to become an Olympic athlete either in order to keep your brain sharp. There’s lots of evidence to show that even 10 minutes of aerobic exercise a day can have enormous benefits.

4. KILLING ANTS

ANTs are “automatic negative thoughts” and, if you’re like most people, you place limitations on yourself in the form of these thoughts at least some of the time. Maybe you tell yourself that you aren’t smart enough to learn a skill that you’d really like to have. Or perhaps you repeat on an endless loop how pushing yourself to accomplish something is only going to lead to disappointment.

ANTs are everywhere, and there isn’t enough ant spray in the world to get rid of all of them. But eliminating them from your life is an essential part of unhinging your brain. The reason for this is simple: If you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them. If you regularly tell yourself that you can’t do something, or that you’re too old to do something, or that you don’t have the smarts to do something, you won’t do that thing. Only when you move on from this kind of destructive self-talk can you truly accomplish what you want to accomplish.

5. A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT

A clean environment goes beyond air quality. Removing clutter and distractions from your surroundings will make you feel lighter and improve your ability to focus, so take time to Marie Kondo your mind and remove any unnecessary stuff.

6. STRESS MANAGEMENT

We all experience some level of stress in our everyday lives, sometimes a great deal of stress. Whenever we experience stress, a hormone known as cortisol is released to alleviate the physical rigors of stress on our bodies. If this happens occasionally, it’s not a problem, but if it happens with great regularity, the buildup of cortisol in our brains can lead it to cease functioning properly.

But there’s more. “There is evidence that chronic (persistent) stress may actually rewire your brain,” says a piece on the Harvard Health Blog. “Scientists have learned that animals that experience prolonged stress have less activity in the parts of their brain that handle higher-order tasks—for example, the prefrontal cortex—and more activity in the primitive parts of their brain that are focused on survival, such as the amygdala.

It’s much like what would happen if you exercised one part of your body and not another. The part that was activated more often would become stronger, and the part that got less attention would get weaker.

This is what appears to happen in the brain when it is under continuous stress: it essentially builds up the part of the brain designed to handle threats, and the part of the brain tasked with more complex thought takes a back seat.” With such clear evidence that stress can be debilitating to your brain, finding ways to reduce or avoid stress becomes critical.

7. SLEEP

If you want better focus, you need to get good sleep. If you want to be a clearer thinker, you need to get good sleep. If you want to make better decisions or have a better memory, you need to get good sleep. According to the National Institutes of Health: Quality sleep—and getting enough of it at the right times—is as essential to survival as food and water.

Without sleep you can’t form or maintain the pathways in your brain that let you learn and create new memories, and it’s harder to concentrate and respond quickly. Sleep is important to a number of brain functions, including how nerve cells (neurons) communicate with each other. In fact, your brain and body stay remarkably active while you sleep.

Recent findings suggest that sleep plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake. The takeaway: getting enough sleep—and getting enough quality sleep—is essential if you’re going to make the most of your brain and hack all the things

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

If you struggle to get something done with some amount of regularity, there’s a good chance that you feel guilty about this and you beat yourself up over it. It’s likely you give yourself a much harder time about it than you actually need to. We already know that unfinished tasks create tension in your brain. If you layer guilt and shame on top of this, you’re making it even harder to get a task done, and you’re making yourself miserable and therefore less productive.

“Feeling guilty when you’re away from work or study, when you aren’t in a position to do anything about it, is not helpful, and can be painful,” writes Dr. Art Markman, a professor of psychology and marketing at University of Texas, Austin. “It will make you feel worse about things in general and spoil time that you could be spending with friends, family, or engaging in an enjoyable activity's. Shame, though, is a different story.

There is evidence that people will explicitly procrastinate to avoid shame. Feeling shame about work you have not completed is likely to make the problem worse, not better, making it an emotion that is almost never helpful.

Feeling bad about your lack of progress is likely to make it more difficult for you to stop procrastinating. So, give yourself a break.

POMODORO ANYONE?

The pomodoro technique is a simple time management methodology that has helped me immensely!

If you have never heard of it nor tried it, i encourage you to check it out and give it a go It has helped me understand the value of time.

  • Improve the quality and quantity of study and information retention
  • Helps exercise your willpower and procrastination
  • One The best way to eliminate burnout.
  • Keeping motivation levels high

Why does it work

Research suggests that our natural ability to concentrate wanes between 10 to 40 minutes. If we spend any longer on a given task, we get diminishing returns on our investment of time because our attention starts to wander.

The Pomodoro technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo based on the idea that the optimal time for a task is 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break Each 25-minute chunk is called a “Pomodoro.”

The Pomodoro technique works for reasons related to memory, specifically the effect of primacy and recency.

The effect of primacy is that you’re more likely to remember what you learn in the beginning of a learning session, a class, a presentation, or even a social interaction. If you go to a party, you might meet 30 strangers. You’re most likely to remember the first few people that you meet. The effect of recency is that you’re also likely to remember the last thing you learned (more recent). At the same party, this means that you’ll remember the names of the last few people you met.

I urge you use the Pomodoro technique for your study sessions because they help you retain information better and work longer by taking more breaks! Cool huh!

I hope this post has been useful and has giving you some insight and clarity. The great thing is you can apply this right away and notice improvements.

Until next time... Hack all the things!

Comments (1)

Jin's photo

Excellent post on burnout! I need to try some of these techniques myself~