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The Sunday Session:

'A one minute read to set you up for the week ahead'

Is Your Engine Warning Light On?:

5 signs you are doing too much!

Read Time : 1 minute


The monumental advancement in car technology in recent decades has taken the guess work out of diagnosing mechanical issues. With zero input from the driver, sensors within the car recognise any faults and cause a warning message to be displayed. The driver then takes the car to an auto-mechanic who plugs it into a computer which shows exactly where the fault lies.


Worryingly, similar diagnostic tools to track, monitor and evaluate our physical health, readiness to perform and mental wellbeing are not readily available, and those technologies that are available are only in the hands of high-performance sports teams and athletes. Although some great companies such as Garmin and Whoop are trying to introduce these technologies to the average athlete, the price of entry is still very high. 


Until this technology is widely available, we must stay alert to ensure we recognise when our engine warning light comes on. Although this list is not exhaustive, it reflects the most common warning signs that I have encountered while coaching clients.


Always Tired, Always Caffeinated (ATAC) Syndrome


Commonly the first sign of a client close to burnout is the constant perception of tiredness. Although still performing at a high level, the morning alarm is met with dread and every ‘How are you?’ is met with ‘Tired but good’. Even when they go to bed early, they do no wake refreshed.


Worse yet, when awake they rely on a constant I.V drip of caffeine to keep them performing optimally. A coffee in the morning, an energy drink with lunch and a pre-workout before the evening training session. When this stimulant is removed, many struggle with lethargy and adherence to personal commitments plummets with professional commitments taking precedent.


If you shudder in fear at the thought of a caffeine free week, it is likely you should check your engine warning light is not on!


Never Done Syndrome


You leave the office, classroom or business everyday feeling like you have not done enough. You are constantly anxious and overwhelmed by how much work is left to do and struggle to disconnect from work. Even when you are on holiday you make time to check e-mails, ‘just in case’, and do that extra bit of preparation. 


As a result of this overwhelm and increased workload, whether personally perceived or real, your job satisfaction diminishes overtime along with your general level of happiness.


Everything Becomes a Chore


Perhaps the biggest and most worrying sign that you are doing too much, is that you begin to view absolutely everything as a chore. Even things you once loved, drinks with friends, walking the dog, going to your favourite restaurant, hitting the gym, or going to your book club, feel like mundane, monotonous chores. You meet these social occasions with dread and put them off in favour of sitting in front of the television, even though you know you shouldn’t.


You Stop Taking Care of Yourself


With your calendar filled with continuous tasks, meetings, and engagements, combined with the constant perception of tiredness, the time you dedicate to self-care diminishes. One missed gym session spirals into two which spirals into two months, booking and attending a hair-dressing appointment seems like a chore and the thought of late night shopping for clothes after a hard day at work does not appeal.


This is usually a very early and obvious sign that you are overdoing it. Even if you’re in denial about it, close friends will usually let you know, so be aware and listen to those friends you trust.


Revenge Bedtime Procrastination (RBP)


RBP, as coined by Matt D’Avella, occurs when you feel you do not have enough control over your schedule during the day so you try to steal back personal time late into the night.


This time is usually filled with unproductive, yet enjoyable activities. It’s the reason many adults will play computer games, binge on Netflix or watch sports events until 3am even though they have work at 9.


With life so full of work and responsibility during daytime hours, they are willing to sacrifice the energy, rest and motivation that comes with a full night of sleep for some 'downtime'.


RBP can become a catalyst, which exacerbates other warning signs, creating a vicious cycle of personal and professional deterioration.


As always, awareness is key. We must recognize these warning signs and put a plan in place to ameliorate and remedy them. Next week’s Sunday Session will focus on just that.

Question I am reflecting on:

Am I doing too much?

Am I showing any signs of over-reaching?

Have a great week,

David O’Hanlon

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