It’s so hard to get through work assignments and personal projects with my current limited mental energy.

To build on a recent post about how I know I’m still in burnout, here’s a concrete example that I just finally put together.

Though I’m often busy doing a variety of things much of the day—including parenting, household chores, errands, and other tasks—I can only do intense work these days for an hour or two, max, per day. Whether that’s close reading of privacy policies (“day job”), or writing and editing the book I’m working on, I can only dig deep and focus for a short while. Then I just lose the ability. I tell myself I’ll come back later and do more work, but it doesn’t seem to work.

So if I spend the mental energy I have available to me doing work that I get paid for, that doesn’t leave any brain power for my book. And vice versa. (No wonder I’ve not worked on my book most of this year. We have bills to pay.)

This puts me in a precarious position, because I really want to get this book done (it’s important for it to be out there in the world, even if it doesn’t end up making me much money), but the effort I have to put into it takes away from the mental energy available for direct paying work, work that is required for me to do if we’re going to make ends meet.

Previously, before my massive autistic burnout a few years ago, I might have had another hour or two of focused work in me per day, especially if I changed up what I was working on partway through. But, no, I have never had eight hours of deep focus work in me. I’m sure most people don’t. But I don’t have (much) paying work available to me that doesn’t require this deep focus. Anyone want to pay me to stuff envelopes or collate paper?

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