Volunteer Burnout

There have been a couple of excellent post about burnout by people who are working with or writing about WordPress on a full-time basis. I was interested in the other end of the WordPress spectrum. People like myself, whose full-time job is NOT working with WordPress (all day, every day) but who contribute a few hours during the week and weekend. In other words – Volunteer Burnout.

The first post I am referring to was actually the weekly podcasts on WPTavern. Jeff Chandler talked about suffering from burnout and how he dealt with it. The second was a post by Drew Jaynes on his website WerdWords.com.

I have been volunteering with WordPress.TV for about 2 years and have really enjoyed myself. The team is comprised of some great people, some of whom I have met in person. Everybody is always positive and upbeat which makes for great working relationship.

It seems like the feeling of being burned out first hit me in February. This can be a slow time as there is a lull in scheduled WordCamps after the beginning of the New Year and all of the videos from the previous year have been submitted and processed. This year was a little bit different as the team was making a push to get existing WPTV videos uploaded to the new WordPress TV YouTube channel. It just so happened that I had a couple of weeks and weekends free to help with this process and apparently I spent WAY too much time working at this.

Now, it was during this time that I felt a reluctance to working on videos. I dreaded the thought of editing, downloading, uploading, converting slides, creating intro / outro panels, etc.

After I had spent a couple of weeks in slowdown mode, I posted the following question on the Facebook group All About WordPress:

Looking for some feedback or advice. This is for people who contribute to the WordPress Community but do not work full time with WordPress. As an example: I am the IT Manager for an engineering firm and my WordPress duties take about 4 hours a week. I volunteer with WordPress TV a few hours a week, typically 2 to 8 hours evening and weekends. Trying to find out how people deal with burnout. Thanks in advance!

I got some great responses…..

Ivicc Delic: Walking, running, relaxing, going to movies,… usually enjoying in these activities with my best friend and my life partner – my “better half” smile emoticon

Craig Allen: I take Sundays off to recharge, which also helps me focus and not procrastinate on Saturday to be more productive then.

Dawn Blumetti Golden: I like a little TV Comedy at the end of the day. Before I go up to bed/sleep I watch some recorded comedy off the DVR. 2 half hour shows or one hour long show takes about 40 min if you zip past the commercials.

Rhiannon England: Balance! Unless it’s an emergency, weekends off. And vacations/holidays are actually GOOD for you!

Sionann Garcia: Set business hours and stick to them. No weekends. Get out and see/do something in nature. Floating in a pool helps me a lot.

Nile Flores: Like Shan, I’ve set business hours. Anything I decide to do outside of them… it’s on me. Other than that, I listen to loud music (rock n’ roll or heavy metal), and sometimes read online or an actual book (omg… those actually exist.) Sometimes I’ll watch a movie or go out instead.

If I know Nile, she has the volume jacked up to 11!!

I certainly appreciate everybody’s input and I have changed my habits. I did not stop working on videos completely, just a slowdown for a few weeks. Although I do feel bad that I did not contact my team members first to let them know what was going on. Oh well, live and learn. So, I am back to normal (or at least my version of normal) and plugging away at my duties with WordPress TV. Life is good. I have a couple of WordCamps I am planning to attend in the next few months. It will be good to get away.


WordPress Help

So, you have created a WordPress website, found a theme, added plugins & widgets and created some content. Now you want to jazz up your site by making some modifications. Where do you go for help?

There are probably thousands of websites offering help to WordPress users but as a beginner it can be very intimidating. A quick search of “WordPress help” on Google comes up with 1 billion results in 2.6 seconds.

An excellent place to start is to go to the WordPress Codex website. This is the “online manual for WordPress and a living repository for WordPress information and documentation”. You can sign up for a free account and search through the forums for pretty much any topic about WordPress.

One thing to keep in mind, as a beginner or casual user, you can probably find a fix for your problem somewhere on the Codex site. There is a 99% chance that your problem has already been posed and a solution posted on the forums.

Find website that post articles about WordPress and join in the discussions. Sites like WPtavern, WPbeginner, Your Website Engineer and Blondish.net have a lot of great content. There are many, many sites that offer WordPress related content. Take your time and find the people whose content you enjoy reading.

Searching on Twitter can lead you to some great resources. Find people who are making comments on WordPress or WordCamps and follow them.

Facebook has many pages dedicated to WordPress. Join groups like All About WordPress https://www.facebook.com/groups/AllAboutWP/ and read the comments.

Don’t be afraid to attend a WordCamp. WordCamps, as described on WikiPedia, is the name given to all WordPress-related gatherings, both informal unconferences and more formal conferences. You can find the schedule for upcoming events at http://central.wordcamp.org/ My first WordCamp was in Columbus in 2010 and I was hooked. For a registration fee of $20 to $40 you receive a quality experience that will make you want to come back for more. WordCamps usually have a least 2 tracks and you will definitely find yourself having to choose between sessions that are scheduled at the same time. You will have the opportunity to meet people that are leaders in the WordPress community and network with people who have interest like your own.

WordPress MeetUp groups are another great resource. These are small loosely organized groups that meet on a monthly basis and discuss various features of WordPress. You can find a group near you at the MeetUp website: http://wordpress.meetup.com/

There are a lot of resources available to WordPress users on all levels.

Have fun on your journey!