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Reflecting on a minor burnout

My happiness is directly tied to my productivity. A perfect day is when I make something. More than that, when I finish something.

I love making content. So the question is why am I not making. While reflecting some of these doubts have been popping up in my head.

How do you keep going? Can you really burn out? You call that a sentence?

Do you really have no good ideas? Do you have any ideas at all?

A while ago I had an idea for a video. I had momentum, I was writing consistently and posting on Youtube once per week. All was well.

So you wanna ride that in this city?

I got excited about the idea and went along with it. The traffic is getting really bad around here and I hate wasting time in the car. I tried to solve it with a Boosted Board.

It came in the mail and I took it for a spin. Then it hit me. I’m going to ride around town and make a point of recording all the potholes and rough sidewalks.

With this video, I wanted to show (and prove to myself since I already bought it) that even in a city with bad roads and sidewalks, one can easily use an electric skateboard as a transportation vehicle.

It sounded great in my head. But I was up for a treat.

The shooting went fine, I did a round trip around a few blocks and with a few exceptions, the ride wasn’t too rough. The point was made.

Then I sat down to edit. All these ideas turned out far more difficult to execute than I thought. And even when I did do them after all, it wasn’t making any sense.

I struggled with it for four days and two nights. I wanted to finish by Tuesday night. I changed the structure twenty times.

After all this agony, I finished it at 6 AM on a Wednesday morning and posted it the same day.

It turned out fine. I learned a lot. But I was exhausted for the next few days and I didn’t make a video for the following week. Then it got busy at work and I didn’t make a video for another week. Then some traveling and no video again.


Three weeks later, no videos.

Zone of Proximal Development

It’s easy to forget this one fact when you’re self-educating.

The zone of proximal development is the extent of new ability you’re able to put on while learning something new. If you aim too high, you will get discouraged. You get exhausted, you grow resentful and judgemental. Suddenly no idea is worth pursuing, and no sentence is good enough for the inner critic.

If you aim too low, you’re not learning anything. To learn efficiently, you must stretch within that zone again and again. This way the zone moves slowly towards the once impossible.

A great teacher stretches you within that zone. But when you’re learning by yourself, you must learn to balance your “lessons”.

Small but consistent steps. Slow but steady. Just like the tortoise.

For short:

Aim low enough today.

The video was so far outside of my zone of proximal development that I had to push really hard to get it done in time. Which in turn jeopardized all the other areas I’m trying to improve.

It is necessary to stretch, but my priority is to keep doing this indefinitely as well stay healthy and be useful to my family. So I need to as well take small steps consistently.

Do little today.

Put in a good day's work and close the laptop.