Skip to content

Matthew Passmore

Website strategy & development

When the burnout comes

An unfortunate part of adulthood is contending with recurring shit-storms of overwhelm and burnout. Add self-employment into the mix and the liklihood of periodic big blue funks is nailed on. So many roles to play, so many responsibilities. Sometimes you're winning, but often the mental load is just too much and leaves motivation levels rooted to the floor.

During these darker times, I have a little checklist of actions and thoughts for reference. These are things I can do today. Now. Just enough to get a little bit extra in the tank before tackling the bigger underlying causes. Maybe tomorrow, maybe not. Let's just concentrate on survival first. The checklist is a little reminder that there is a way out, a path back to lighter times.

It's an unedited and unpolished set of points, but I share in the hope there may be something that helps you get moving again.


  • Clear the decks. Give myself permission to do nothing.
  • Be brutal in minimising inputs.
  • Switch off from Self Development.
  • Remove distracting apps from devices (set-up email alerts so don't miss anything important).
  • Remove email from mobile devices.


  • Rig the game in my favour.
  • Create margin.
  • Add structure to day;┬átime-boxing, for example.
  • Use a post-it note to manage today's tasks i.e. something disposable, visible, constrained.
  • Set iOS Screentime limits.
  • Liberal use of OSx Focus app.
  • Don't over-commit. If anything, under-commit.
  • Computer shutdown at 5pm and then do something enjoyable, preferably with real-life people.

Think small

  • Focus on a single daily 'highlight'
  • Re-jig day to tackle most important work when energy highest. Use early-morning for work, shifting reviews to evening / pre-lunch.
  • Trust the process of little and often. The score will take care of itself.
  • Focus on small Next Actions
  • Nudge important projects in a positive direction with repeated small efforts.
  • Turn time-tracking off.


  • Break the normal routine e.g. work elsewhere, watch a film whilst working, cook a treat.
  • Eat healthier and drink a shit-tonne of water.
  • Strict sleep routine.
  • No alcohol.
  • Take a bath at night.

View all posts