The Intersection of Burnout and Productivity

Author - Miles Oliver
Published - September 1, 2023

Burnout has become a concern for a lot of writers. It can turn what was once your primary passion into a toxic influence on your quality of life. As a result, it’s always in your best interests to address burnout at the earliest opportunity. 

This is often easier said than done, though, isn’t it? Various factors can contribute to the onset of the condition and you could well be deep in the weeds of it before you really notice it's an issue. Perhaps more frustratingly, the close intersection of burnout and productivity can make it really easy to mistake a health issue for a natural side-effect of hard work. 

So, let’s focus on this particular challenge a little closer. Where can burnout and productivity intertwine and how can you best mitigate the effects?


Recognizing the Causes of Burnout

To address any challenge effectively, it helps to have a good understanding of the root causes. With burnout, you can find that some of the influences are related to some of the hallmarks of productivity. It’s important to get a grasp of these, as this knowledge can help you to establish where you might be pushing a little too far, enabling you to take active steps to pull back in a way that is good for both your productivity and your mental wellness. 

Some of the productivity-adjacent causes of burnout can include:


Unmanageable workload

As a freelance writer, work can be somewhat feast or famine. This can make it really easy to say “yes” to as many projects as possible when the opportunity arises. Filling up your calendar to bursting with tasks may feel like you’re maximizing the time available to you. 

However, in reality, it can also see you taking on what is an unmanageable workload. This is particularly likely if you try to sustain a high volume of work over an extended period. The extra work, in conjunction with other influencing factors, may mean your attempts at productivity result in symptoms of burnout.


Security fatigue

Security is vital in your writing career. Not only could malware and ransomware disrupt your activities, but you also need to protect any client data you interact with. This means that taking consistent and stringent protective measures can feel essential to your continued productivity. 

Unfortunately, excessive focus on security measures can result in security fatigue. Over time, you may find you start to pay less attention to security processes, utilize unsafe password practices, and even demonstrate risky online behavior. Not to mention that it can contribute stress that impacts your mental wellness. You can ease the overall burden and reduce the risks by utilizing less attention- and labor-intensive security practices, such as passwordless protocols and artificial intelligence (AI) driven threat detection software.


Understanding the Symptoms and Their Impact

So, we’ve looked at how the causes of burnout can be connected to apparent hallmarks of productivity. However, another point of intersection is between the symptoms of burnout and your productivity. This can be a particularly difficult problem, as it has the potential to create a detrimental cycle. Your attempts at productivity lead to symptoms of burnout, which impacts your productivity, which causes you to push harder, which results in more or worse symptoms. Part of interrupting this cycle is to recognize the symptoms and their impact. 

Some of the issues to watch out for include:


Feeling overwhelmed

As a creative professional, it’s easy to feel a little daunted by the tasks in front of you occasionally. However, when this sensation becomes overwhelming, things start to become problematic. You might feel a sense of anxiety at the prospect of the next day’s work, even though you consider writing to be your passion. You may have the impression that the amount of writing and administration you have to get through is insurmountable. As a symptom of burnout, these overwhelming feelings may make it difficult to make decisions or move forward, which affects how productive you are. It’s important to look out for this symptom, particularly if it arises in circumstances that you had no problems managing previously.


Tiredness or exhaustion

Perhaps the most well-known symptom of burnout is tiredness or exhaustion. This may take a physical form, with you feeling sluggish, sleeping long hours, or ironically even losing quality sleep due to your excessive fatigue. You might also experience mental forms of exhaustion in which you don’t feel quite as sharp or as emotionally robust as you once were. Naturally, this tiredness can translate to slower progress in your work or a drop in the quality of your output. The last thing you want is to have to commit extra energy you don’t have into correcting errors or rewriting. Therefore, maintaining an awareness of drops in your mental or physical energy is essential to identifying potential burnout.


Making Positive Adjustments to Boost Efficiency

We certainly don’t want to be all doom and gloom on this subject. While burnout is a serious issue for writers, you can make some efficiency adjustments that allow you to be more productive and help you feel better. There are certainly preparatory elements that set you up for a productive day, like prioritizing your sleep and making time for a nutritionally balanced breakfast. Even scheduling face time regularly with your loved ones or meditating can give you the emotional reserves to get through your tough days. However, it’s also worth exploring the components directly related to your work.

 These include:


Reduce toxic influences

Oftentimes, an influence of both dropped productivity and burnout is the presence of a toxic workplace. As a writer, it’s important to identify the elements of toxicity in your environment and work to reduce these. These may be distractions that keep you from focusing entirely on your tasks. It may be clients that insist on micromanaging or steamrolling over boundaries. You might even be creating a toxic productivity issue for yourself. Addressing toxic components can lead to greater productivity and less stress.


Take regular breaks

One of the misconceptions about independent workers is that their perceived freedom results in lazy behavior. In reality, you probably find you take far fewer breaks than the average full-time office worker. Ironically, this is neither conducive to solid productivity or your health. Make certain you’re building frequent break times into your day and sticking to them. This doesn’t just mean a single lunch break either. Schedule time to take a few minutes away from your screen, moments to get a healthy snack, or just step outside for some air.



Burnout and productivity can be closely related, which can certainly make it challenging to navigate a healthy working practice as a writer. It’s important to understand the productivity-related causes of burnout, like unmanageable workloads, so you can head them off at the pass. Being aware of which symptoms directly disrupt productivity can also prepare you with some useful warning signs. Making adjustments to your routine that serve both productivity and result in health outcomes is a key preventative tool. The last thing you want is for toxic influences to suck all the joy from your writing career, so it’s worth taking a little extra time to find a healthy balance between work and wellness.



Miles OliverAuthor bio:  Miles Oliver is an independent writer with a background in business and passion for psychology, news, and simply helping people live happy and fulfilled lives. He has lived and traveled all over the United States and continues to expand his awareness and experiences. When he is not writing, he is most likely mountain biking or kicking back with a cup of tea.






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