Have you ever been so exhausted that you quit your job?
You may have been experiencing burnout.
Burnout is characterized by overwhelming exhaustion, detachment from your work, and a sense of ineffectiveness.
And while anyone can experience burnout, if you have ADHD, you may be more susceptible to it.
Before you get to the point where quitting feels like your only option, there are steps you can take to set healthy boundaries and start feeling more like yourself again. Read on to learn how you can recognize burnout in yourself, and what to do if you’re experiencing it!
How Does ADHD Burnout Feel?
There are some clear signs that you’re burning out, but ADHD can make the descent to burnout harder to detect. These warning signs include:
- Lack of motivation - not wanting to do the things you need to do or the things you love.
- Exhaustion - feeling overly tired both mentally and physically.
- Irritability and mental fatigue - feeling short-tempered, mean, or like you snap easily.
- Physical discomfort - body aches, low energy levels, and general pain.
- Negative outlook - the tendency to find something wrong with nearly everything.
- Emotional dysregulation - feeling weepy, sad, or unable to smile or connect with others.
Generally, burnout starts with taking on too much. Exhaustion creeps in, and you feel like every day is working against you because you are constantly overwhelmed. You may start to feel like the entire world is spinning out of control, or like no matter what you do you can’t keep up (or catch up).
If this resonates with you, you might be on the road to ADHD burnout.
Why People with ADHD Can Be More Susceptible to Burnout
So why does ADHD make some folks more susceptible to burnout? There are a few common ADHD traits that often result in behaviors correlated with burnout (taking on too much, working too long, etc.):
- Hyperfocus - ADHD is not exclusively about attention deficits. In fact, hyperfocus is the opposite – a deep, intense concentration to the point of being oblivious to your surroundings. Per WebMD, hyperfocus is a state of highly-focused attention that lasts for an extended period of time. You concentrate on something so hard that you lose track of everything else going on around you. When hyperfocus sets in at work, it can be hard to unplug or be aware of the people and environment around you.
- Time Tracking - Losing track of time is one thing, but if you find yourself losing track of hours without realizing it, that could be related to burnout. People with ADHD perceive time not as a sequence of events the way others usually do, but as a diffuse collection of events viscerally connected to the people, activities, and emotions that fill them.
- Difficulty Prioritizing - Do you take on too much and then struggle to prioritize it? When someone asks for help, does everything often go to the wayside so you can jump in? Or maybe the daunting anticipation of the tasks ahead prevents you from starting. Per ADDitude, ADHD impacts your temporal processing abilities, which can affect executive functioning.
Combating ADHD Burnout
If you think you may be suffering from ADHD burnout, there are a few ways to take back control. Here are three tips for combating ADHD burnout:
Reserve Your Yeses - Pump the brakes when you recognize the early signs of ADHD burnout. Start reserving your yeses right away. Say no, and practice not apologizing. It is okay to say, "I have a lot on my plate right now and cannot take that on. Thanks for thinking of me." Saying no is nothing to apologize for, and it should be celebrated! You are working to protect your energy above all else.
Practice Over-Estimating - If you think you could knock something out in a day, give yourself a week. Overestimate on time and allow yourself the grace to have a little more time than usual to complete projects. Slowing down when starting a new job or role will help you produce high-quality work and prevent ADHD burnout.
Drop the Mask - Be honest with your employer and friends. Let them know that although you seem to keep up internally, you struggle. Identifying ADHD burnout from the outside can be extremely difficult. Your honesty and transparency will position you to determine if your environment is supportive and inclusive.
How to Support Colleagues Dealing with ADHD Burnout
The experiences above may not resonate with you personally, but perhaps you’ve noticed other people you work with describe or experience them.
If you’re a manager, there are several ways you can support colleagues with ADHD (as well as neurodivergent employees more generally) to help prevent burnout. Ask for clarity on when they have felt the most supported at work. Discovery questions like, “how did you feel at that time?” or “how was the pace of that project?” can help you to understand their actual capacity.Download this free guide if you’re looking for more ways to support your neurodivergent coworkers. Work with your DEIB and HR team to develop new neurodivergent inclusivity standards to help you stay ahead of the ADHD burnout cycle.
Not Everything Is Engineering: Logicworks’ Courtney Pearce on Taking on Tech from a Sales Perspective
Courtney Pearce’s background isn’t one you’d expect to find in a tech sales position. But as a motivated self-starter, it makes all the sense in the world that she’s been so successful in her role as Solutions Specialist at Logicworks.
If you ask her what she’s most proud of about her time so far at Logicworks, she’ll say her growth over the last four years.
“Even though I came from a technology company that was selling software, selling infrastructure and infrastructure managed services is very different. There was a learning curve. And when I started four years ago, I was the only woman. So I felt like there was this uphill battle of educating myself on the cloud platform. Now, I'm one of the top sales reps and have consistent top performance. So I'm most proud of my growth over the last four years.”
Courtney has a lot of wisdom to impart to those interested in taking on the sales side of tech. We sat down with her to learn more about how she broke into the tech world by utilizing her retail experience.
An Unexpected Path Into Sales
Courtney started college as an Orthodontics major but eventually realized that science wasn’t her calling.
“Although I'm a great student, science and math were difficult subjects for me,” she admits. "I ended up taking a random textile and clothing elective and it was my favorite class.”
She enjoyed the breadth of the program and decided to become a Textiles and Clothing major.
“You got the opportunity to learn the sociology behind why people wear clothes, the chemistry behind dying, how to make fabric, then creating a line from start to finish and marketing that to the class,” she shares.
Although fascinated by the program, her career journey didn’t lead her to the fashion industry but rather to an adjacent career in retail.
“I ended up accepting a leadership position for a big box department store,” she says. “At 23 years old, I ran a 35 million dollar store. It was a great experience and I learned a lot.”
After two years of working in retail for various name brands, she found her way into a tech company through a recruitment role.
Breaking Into the Tech World
While Courtney was working at a recruiting firm, she was approached by a security tech company with a position as a technical recruiter. She was interested in the role and applied, but didn’t get an immediate response.
“I didn't hear back, but continued to follow up,” she recounts. "One night, I got a phone call that said, ‘You're not a good fit for the technical recruiter role, but we have this new group that we're building out called business development and they're working directly with sales. Based on your experience and the fact that you're willing to follow up, we think you'd be a great fit’.”
At the time Courtney knew nothing about the tech space but that didn’t stop her from interviewing for the position.
"I spent an entire week browsing the website, watching all their product marketing videos, and tried to wrap my head around what this security company did," she explains.
During the interview, she blew them away with her knowledge of the company.
“I gave my five-minute spiel and I think that impressed them,” Courtney shares. “I had taken the time to research the company, and not having had a tech background, I tried to comprehend what they do.”
Hired as a business development rep, she had the opportunity to build the team from the ground up.
Reaching New Heights at Logicworks
Courtney continued to rise in the ranks, but she eventually felt that she had hit a plateau. With a desire to try out something new, she looked to Logicworks who offered her the career advancement she was looking for.
“I had reached my potential with my previous employer. There wasn’t anything new for me to learn. I wanted to figure out what was next in my career. There was an opening at Logicworks for a Solution Specialist to be based in Boston. That was enticing for me.”
When Courtney moved to Logicworks she was able to explore job autonomy.
“It gave me the opportunity to move into a territory that I'd been working in for many years, but also run that territory like my own business,” she explains. "There was nobody else working within that space, and I could create the process that I wanted to.”
Now at Logicworks, she experiences the constant changes of a cloud system.
“I'm constantly learning,” she shares. “We're constantly evolving our services, what products we're providing, and how our services are integrated as the cloud is maturing. It keeps me interested every single day.”
Now as a sales lead, Courtney focuses on building relationships with current and potential clients.
Coincidentally, the relationship-building skills that Courtney uses on a daily basis come from her experience in retail.
“I think coming from retail, you have to be able to talk to anyone,” she says. “You're getting a lot of different customer personalities, so it allows me to be comfortable talking to strangers, which I think is key in sales.”
Along with sales experience, Courtney's internal drive has been key in propelling her forward.
“Being a self-starter and watching YouTube videos on what the cloud is, what AWS is, and taking that time on my own to learn and absorb as much as I can are, at the end of the day, the kinds of things that you can prepare you to enter the tech space,” she explains.
Ultimately, it was the skills she learned in retail and her self-taught understanding of tech that have led to her success.
Advice for Entering the Tech World Through Sales
If you're looking to enter the tech world from a sales angle, Courtney offers this advice:
- Find companies that resonate with your values. “Whether you like their product and think that product is solving a pain point in the marketplace, or you align with the company's values, work for a company whose mission you support,” Courtney advises.
- Be pleasantly persistent. “The biggest thing that helped me was when I reached out and nobody responded, and then I followed up and nobody responded, and then I followed up again and they called me. Being pleasantly persistent shows that you’re interested and invested in the organization,” she explains.
- Do your research. “Take the time to figure out what the company does and what they are all about. Educate yourself above and beyond the basic training material to ensure that you have the right knowledge base to be successful in the role.”
If you are looking to grow within the tech space, check out these open positions at Logicworks.
If you ask for advice about how to get a job at Google, taking an improv class is probably not something you’d expect to hear.
Yet, Monica Silva Gutierrez, Senior Program Manager at Google, found that improv not only helped transform her into the effective leader she is today but also empowered her to ditch the mentality of what she calls, “second class citizen” syndrome.
“Taking feedback is not easy for a person of color. When I used to get constructive feedback at work, this ‘second class citizen’ syndrome would creep into my mind, telling me I’m not good enough and I’m never going to get a seat at the table,” she shares.
For Monica, the principles of improv helped her to take feedback and run with it, rather than taking it personally.
“Improvisation really helped me learn how to integrate professional feedback and innovate on it, which is very much a part of the culture at Google,” she says.
We sat down with Monica to find out more about how her varied experiences influenced her career trajectory and her journey toward embracing her heritage in her professional life, and the advice she has for other Latinas to find their footing in the tech world.
From Texas Border Town to Change Management Powerhouse
Monica grew up in a border town in Texas and felt the pressure early on to assimilate to American culture for the sake of her success. She had taken the last name of her non-Latinx stepfather, and she has a white-passing appearance, which made assimilating easier.
“I was never really in touch with my ‘latinidad' as we call it because I was always trying to fit in. I have white-presenting features, so I could pretend,” she reflects.
She went on to study political science at St. Mary’s University, a Hispanic-serving school. Being around thousands of young adults just like her opened the door to her Latina identity a little wider.
“I'm glad I went there and had that experience, to be surrounded by people who looked like me and came from similar places,” she says.
After graduation, Monica’s career took her through some pretty interesting — and diverse — experiences. She worked as a Political Assistant on the Clinton/Gore Presidential Campaign, at the White House in the Department of Energy, as Director of Events at a meditation ashram (where she learned about improv), and as an executive in the nonprofit sector for democracy and social justice reform organizations.
The common thread throughout these experiences has been Monica’s aptitude for taking a practical approach to managing change.
“Throughout my career, I’ve built teams, grown them to scale, and helped them pivot and change,” she explains.
The Value of Sponsorship
While working in the nonprofit sector, Monica struck up a friendship with a tech founder through her meditation community. This person became an invaluable sponsor who opened doors for her to work at the intersection of nonprofit and tech.
“He took an interest in me and my career, and had access to opportunity, which I didn't have,” she says.
When her sponsor was working as a VP at Google, he tapped her for a Chief of Staff position. Google was focused on building an inclusive culture where everyone belongs, and he was certain that Monica was the best person to navigate these changes. She wasn’t so sure.
She remembers thinking: “I'm not a typical hire. I don't have a CS background. Also, I'm more of a generalist, and Google tends to hire people who are specialists and experts.”
However, after studying up on Google culture and preparing for her interviews with the help of a recruiter and career coach, she got the job. She then spent years successfully guiding the company through a major pivot, utilizing and building on her existing skills to help organizations transform from the inside out.
Hard Conversations, Reclaiming Identity
Monica is proud to work at a place that isn’t afraid to have hard conversations and to act on the conclusions of those conversations.
“Google is on the right side of some really tough values conversations that corporate America is going through. It's curious, and it wants to find ways to solve problems with compassion. Compassion is in Google’s DNA,” she shares.
Having these hard conversations with compassion provided the space for Monica to explore her identity more. Finally, the door to her latinidad was fully opened and she now feels that she has reclaimed her Latina identity.
“There were two versions of me: one at work and one at home,” she remembers. “But Google is a place where I could explore myself more, and I've been given permission to be me. Because Google is willing to have those tough conversations, I was inspired to publicly ‘come out’ as Latina.”
Part of that coming out was changing her married name to a combination of her mother’s and grandmother’s maiden names to honor the Latina matriarchs of her family.
She has also prioritized building community as the co-founder of the employee resource group (ERG) Latinas@Google, as well as uplifting Latina talent whenever she can — she learned through experience the impact a sponsor can have, and it’s a lesson she’s never forgotten.
“Someone else took a chance on me, and I want to do the same for others. I see so much potential and heart in the Latinx community and I want to shine as much light on that as I can,” she says.
3 Tips for Latinas in a Shifting Tech World
Monica thinks that the tech landscape for Latinas still isn't ideal but she's optimistic. On the one hand, excellent talent can go overlooked; on the other hand, the needle is moving toward more equity and inclusion.
“I think there have been many improvements around hiring and retention, as well as Latina talent filling more visible roles. I think leaders are listening and want to know how they can help,” she says.
For Latinas who want to find their footing in the tech landscape during this time of transition, here is Monica’s advice:
- Even if you don’t tick every box, put your hat in the ring. Sometimes you’ll be right for the job, even if you don’t meet every single requirement, so apply anyway. Monica recalls that a junior engineer she sponsored didn’t think she had what it took, but when she applied, she was promoted. “Now her team has grown three times. She's in a new org, under new leadership who recognizes her, her ability, and her impact,” she emphasized.
- Find a community, and collectively articulate your needs to leadership. Monica points out that leadership is listening, and now is the time to clarify needs through ERGs or other collectives. “We have to get really crystal clear about precisely what it is that we want and need,” she explains.
- Don’t be afraid to bring your cultural values into the workplace. Monica says that one value in her culture is taking care of others and that this has given many employees comfort and peace of mind during corporate restructuring. “I'm usually the one in the room that advocates for making sure that people are well taken care of, fully informed, and supported through change. I think that has a lot to do with my culture,” says Monica.
If you’re looking to be on the right side of important corporate tech conversations, Google is hiring!
Network with technology leaders and IT professionals at this hybrid event
PowerToFly is proud to partner with Blacks in Technology in raising awareness for their upcoming amazing hybrid event.
BITCON is the annual conference for the Blacks In Technology community hosted by Blacks In Technology, LLC (BIT) and the 501(c)(3) Blacks In Technology Foundation.The 2022 conference will be a hybrid of in-person and live streamed main stage, attended by IT professionals, university students, and a variety of afro-technologists and futurists.
This year they anticipate that over 1,000 attendees will come to Disney World for a “conference for the culture”. You’ll be joined by technology leaders, IT professionals, influential investors, global influencers,and policy makers from the world’s largest companies, government agencies, and promising new startups.
Learn more and register here: bitcon.blacksintechnology.net
Attend workshops and training sessions from beginner to expert. Topics and tracks include: Web 3, cryptocurrency, NFT, metaverse, AI & ML, gaming & e-sports, cloud/DevOps, cybersecurity, data science, social responsibility & policy, career development, entrepreneurship, and storytelling.
Participate in one of the largest career fairs for diverse tech talent. Dozens of companies are looking for top tech talent and they are leaning into diversity. Participate in live demos of augmented reality and metaverse applications. Join the $5,000 Madden Xbox tournament, or the $10,000 pitch competition in the backdrop of the happiest place on Earth.
The three day conference begins Wednesday October 26 and concludes Friday October 28th at Walt Disney World’s Coronado Springs Resort. Book through the Blacks In Technology room block for a discount and book your air travel through American Airlines for a discount on flights.
For all of the details, visit the BITCON website at bitcon.blacksintechnology.net.